Urban extension proposal refused as premature

Prejudice to an emerging local plan, heritage harm and conflict with a neighbourhood plan have prompted the secretary of state to rule out an urban extension in Hampshire.

The outline proposal comprised 700 dwellings, a primary school, a local centre and open space on land adjoining a town. The council’s emerging local plan, which excluded the site from its housing allocations, was at an advanced stage, so the secretary of state afforded it moderate weight in his deliberations. He agreed with his inspector that allowing the development on appeal would predetermine the location of a significant urban extension that the plan-making process had revealed as inappropriate for the district. In light of the criteria in paragraph 49 of the NPPF, he considered that prematurity could justify refusal. 

The proposal would also affect the setting of a nearby listed farmhouse, which the secretary of state considered would cause considerable harm. In his view, this was not outweighed by the scheme’s benefits, especially in the light of a healthy housing land supply position well in excess of five years. He also agreed with the inspector that the scheme’s effect on the site’s landscape character would be significant and adverse, unacceptably diffusing a clear and crisp transition between town and country and detrimentally affecting the town’s setting.

Other factors weighing against approval included conflict with the spatial strategy in the recently adopted neighbourhood plan and the loss of 23 hectares of best and most versatile agricultural land. While recognising that existing local plan housing policies were out of date due to inconsistencies with the NPPF and settlement boundaries that did not reflect housing need, the secretary of state concluded that the heritage harm gave a clear reason for refusing the development and the framework’s tilted balance in favour of sustainable development did not apply.

Inspector: Nick Fagan; Inquiry

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