Waste water risk to wildlife prevents housing

Redevelopment of a single large dwelling with sixteen houses in a south coast town was rejected by an inspector.

In the absence of a five-year supply of housing land, local plan policy allowing additional housing sites outside the urban area boundary subject to specified criteria was engaged. However, the council claimed conflict with a criterion requiring development to minimise any adverse impact on the countryside but the inspector found only a minor incursion into a strategic gap and site boundaries clearly defined by a cemetery and roads.

A further issue had arisen since the council refused the application, concerning the potential harm of waste water from the proposed development on protected marine wildlife habitats subject to special protection. Natural England advice published in June 2019 stated that high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients from householder waste water were resulting in dense mats of green algae harming protected habitats and bird species, and advised that new development should be nutrient neutral while acknowledging that achieving this would be difficult for small developments. In the absence of suitable mitigation techniques, which were not yet sufficiently evolved, the inspector decided a Grampian condition was inappropriate. Taking the precautionary approach required by habitats regulations, he dismissed the appeal, finding the welcome boost to housing outweighed by potential harm to important habitats.

Inspector: David Wyborn; Written representations

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