Homes accepted near waste management site

Residential uses would be acceptable on allocated employment land close to a waste management site in Gloucestershire, an inspector has decided.

The appellants proposed a housing-led mixed development including 215 homes, 2.24 hectares of commercial and 280 square metres of retail uses, public open space and associated works on agricultural land outside a large village. The site had been allocated for employment use in the emerging local plan because of its proximity to an existing and allocated waste management facility.

The inspector held that the principle of development on the site had therefore been accepted. In finding that it was suitable for housing, he dismissed local residents’ concerns about settlement boundary breaches and the area’s capacity to accommodate housing growth above the level allocated in the local plan. The council had not refused permission on this basis, he noted. In any case, he afforded limited weight to the plan’s policies in the light of an agreed housing land shortfall in the area. 

The council’s main concern was the site’s location near the waste management site, which was safeguarded under an adopted waste core strategy, and potential for odour affecting residents of the proposed homes. But the inspector considered the appellants’ odour impact assessment (OIA)) to be a robust document that remained unchallenged by the council.

In his view, the council had not properly considered the OIA results and had paid too much attention to the mere existence of an adverse effect without putting it into its proper context. The council’s case, he found, had failed to acknowledge that the modelled impact would affect 26 dwellings and occur only for 175 hours during one year of the long lifetime of the appeal development. This would have a moderate rather than substantial adverse effect, he decided.

The inspector noted that the Environment Agency and the waste planning authority had not objected to the proposal. He concluded that potential odour impacts did not amount to a cogent reason for refusal. The only harm that would need to be weighed in the balance against the appeal scheme was the potential risk of moderate odour impacts on a limited part of the site for a limited period, he reasoned. This was a very modest drawback in the overall balance against very significant social and economic benefits from new homes and jobs, he concluded.

Inspector: Harold Stephens; Inquiry

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