One of the main issues in the appeal related to compliance or otherwise with the housing policies of the local plan. The site was in a village identified as part of a group of villages suitable for housing growth. However, the council maintained the site was not needed because the housing requirement for such villages had already been met and the site was otherwise not suitable on character grounds. The inspector held differently, however, considering that the modest scale of the proposal meant material exceedance of the housing requirement was not an issue and the thrust of the plan’s strategy would not be undermined despite having 16 years left to run. Although the inspector acknowledged the connectivity between the villages by walking and cycling was limited due to steep valley topography, he noted that the villages had been designated for growth in the strategy and had until now not had any. The facts that permission had previously been granted for six dwellings on part of the site and the whole site had been included in the council’s housing land availability study as suitable for 10 houses also affected the inspector’s determination.
In terms of character and appearance, the inspector considered that the integrity of the landscape would not be compromised by the development. This was in part because within the appeal site the dwellings would be set close to existing housing and only marginally extend the pattern of development to just beyond a nearby school. He considered the low density combined with the extent of proposed planting belts would ensure that the proposal could be accommodated within its context. He found no harm to the landscape setting of the nearby area of outstanding natural beauty or the setting of the village.
Inspector: Stephen Wilkinson; Hearing