The redetermined appeal involved a site with a long drawn out planning history. The council had adopted a part 2 local plan setting out new development boundaries after the close of the inquiry but before the secretary of state had reviewed the scheme. The secretary of state noted that the proposal was in clear breach of these settlement boundaries and the saved strategic plan settlement boundary policy that underpinned them, a point recognised by the inspector. The crucial issue was the weight attributable to this strategic policy and an adopted neighbourhood plan.
The secretary of state agreed with the inspector that the relevant policies for determining the appeal were not out of date despite inconsistency with the NPPF in the wording of the strategic settlement boundary policy, which aimed to protect the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside rather than just recognise it. The inspector had concluded that this policy should be afforded limited weight because the site was located next to newly proposed development, the local landscape was not significant and the council had breached other settlement boundaries in the past to ensure a five-year housing land supply.
But the secretary of state held that the changed circumstances meant the policy should be afforded significant weight, given the clear loss of open countryside. This finding was supported by his review of the area’s five-year supply position, which in his view was favourable. He also disagreed with the inspector that the weight attributable to the conflict with the spatial strategy in the neighbourhood plan was only moderate, regarding it instead as significant. He concluded that the conflict with the development plan was paramount and dismissed the appeal.
Inspector: Melvyn Middleton; Inquiry