Totality of harms renders needed housing unacceptable

Forty-two dwellings on arable land at the edge of a west Sussex settlement have been refused for harm arising from the conflict with the adopted settlement strategy for the area, harm to the setting of heritage assets and harm to the appearance and character of the countryside, not outweighed by the benefits of the new market and affordable homes in an area identified as having a shortfall.

One of the five main issues the inspector considered related to conflict with the council’s settlement strategy. In this issue, the lack of a neighbourhood plan was a source of dispute between the council and appellant as the adopted settlement strategy allowed for development outside of settlement boundaries if brought forward through allocations in a neighbourhood plan, but none currently existed for this area. The inspector considered that this did not create an issue of absent policy rendering the strategy out of date and instigating the tilted balance in the NPPF, as the appellant argued. Rather, he felt the proposal still represented a conflict with the plan-led settlement strategy as the site was located in the countryside outside the village boundary and the absence of the neighbourhood plan did not change this fact. This was despite going on to find there was a lack of a five-year housing land supply for the area contrary to the council’s assertion otherwise.

In the planning balance, the inspector found sufficient harm arising from the conflict with the strategy, heritage and landscape policies to amount to overall conflict with the development plan, and insufficient public benefits to outweigh the heritage harm, despite affording all the policies marginally less weight because of a, albeit limited, housing shortfall and some inconsistences with the NPPF. Finally, he opined the benefits of the scheme, whether considered individually or cumulatively as material considerations, were not such to outweigh the totality of harm he identified. 

Inspector: David Cliff; Inquiry

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