Rural exception site refused on scale and design grounds

A rural exception site for 13 affordable and 11 market homes at a former poultry farm in open countryside on the edge of a settlement in Gloucestershire was refused, in the tilted balance, with the affordable housing, landscape and design policy conflicts outweighing the benefits despite the clear need for market and affordable housing in the area.

A key issue in the case was the location of the proposed development on the edge of a small rural hamlet with no service provision. Although the inspector accepted the proposal would contribute to an identified need for affordable housing in the area, he considered it would not meet the adopted joint core strategy policy relating to the location of rural exception sites, a policy he afforded substantial weight despite the housing shortfall. This stated that rural exception site proposals should be within or on the edge of a settlement and should be of a scale well related to the settlement both functionally and in terms of design. The inspector held the proposal would not achieve this because it represented development at depth and out of a scale with what was a traditional linear settlement of only 17 dwellings. In terms of its impact on the appearance and character of the area, the inspector held a residential development of the site, at the quantum proposed, would appear as an urbanising out-of-character intrusion into the open countryside resulting in further relevant policy conflict. 

In terms of the market and affordable housing ratio, the inspector considered that the appellant had not robustly demonstrated that the scheme could not sustain a greater proportion of affordable homes given that the viability assessment submitted used an alternative use value based on a policy-compliant rural exception scheme to set the benchmark land value which would have inflated the land value and skewed the results. The inspector concluded that the harms and policy conflict he had identified would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the proposal’s benefits when assessed against the NPPF’s policies taken as a whole. The presumption in favour of sustainable development did not, therefore, apply.

Inspector: Andrew Smith; Hearing

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