Recently excavated remains do not constitute PDL

Key worker accommodation in the north London green belt and within a conservation area has been refused as inappropriate development, harmful to the openness of the green belt and the character and appearance of the surrounding conservation area.

The scheme had been advanced on the basis of the exception set out in the second bullet point of paragraph 145g of the NPPF allowing the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land which would not cause substantial harm to the openness of the green belt, and would contribute to meeting an identified affordable housing need. 

The appellant contended that the site had been derelict and unused since 1928, and that parts of the former dwelling remained visible. The appellant proposed seven key worker units in a single new building on the site. But in assessing the previously developed land status of the site, the inspector raised numerous concerns. These related to the fact that the remains of the former building seemed to have been the product of recent excavation and exposure, the fact that the building was demolished nearly a century ago and the fact the site appeared to have been more recently used as a garden associated with an adjoining former convent. The latter, he noted, were specifically excluded from the definition of previously developed land in the NPPF. As to the contention the proposal would bring forward key worker housing, the inspector noted the unilateral undertaking provided to secure the housing had not been signed or dated and afforded it limited weight in the planning balance. 

In the overall green belt balance, the inspector held the openness of the site had become a well-established feature and the historic presence of a building on the site did not alter his view that substantial harm would be caused to that openness by the proposal and there were no other considerations which outweighed this harm. The inspector found further harms relating to the proposal’s impact on the appearance and character of the conservation area through loss of historic open space, loss of landscape views and the prominence, size and unsympathetic design of the building which again, he opined, were not outweighed by the public benefits of the unsecured housing.

Inspector: Benjamin Webb; Written representations

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