Housing near estuary refused

Outline proposals for 110 new homes on overgrown farmland outside an Essex village failed to win the support of an inspector.

In the context of a shortfall in housing land supply, the inspector held the adopted settlement boundary was out of date and noted that emerging spatial strategy also excluding the site from settlement limits had been found unsound by an examining inspector. On this basis the inspector gave only very limited weight to conflict with spatial strategy in her decision.

The site lay close to an estuary encompassing designated SPA and Ramsar sites of importance for wild birds and an SSSI. The inspector agreed with Natural England that increased recreational pressure from the proposed development could have a significant effect and required mitigation through a combination of on-site open spaces and off-site measures. She noted the s106 obligation as framed would allow three quarters of the dwellings to be occupied before a strategic alternative green space was operational, a shortcoming which would not secure full and effective mitigation. On the basis of potential for significant harm to European sites she decided the presumption in favour of sustainable development did not apply and permission should be refused.

In the overall balance, even on the assumption of a more rigorous s106 that would enable the tilted balance to be applied to her decision, the inspector decided that harm to settlement pattern due to detachment and to the rural landscape setting of the village, to on-site biodiversity and a scheduled ancient monument earthworks, together combined to outweigh the benefits of market and thirty per cent affordable housing and dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: Helen Heward; Inquiry


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