Agreement held insufficient to support homes permission in principle

A signed planning agreement provides insufficient certainty to justify granting permission in principle for six houses on the edge of a Surrey village, an inspector has decided.

The grassed site lay within five kilometres of a heathland special protection area (SPA). The inspector noted that under article 5B of the Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 as amended, permission in principle must not be granted for "habitats development", defined in PPG as development likely to have a significant effect on a qualifying European site such as an SPA. She recognised the potential for added recreational pressure from future residents, individually and in combination with other projects.

To mitigate the effects on the SPA, the appellant had submitted a signed and dated unilateral undertaking providing for a financial contribution towards suitable alternative green space and monitoring. The inspector was also provided with a legal opinion stating that, notwithstanding advice in paragraph 022 of PPG that planning obligations cannot be secured at the permission in principle stage, there was no legal impediment to the appellant entering into a section 106 obligation. She agreed to consider the undertaking but found it too inflexible to take account of potential changes in the plans at the next stage of permission, among other shortcomings.

On other issues, the inspector rejected arguments that the development would be limited infilling under a national policy exception to inappropriate development in the green belt and found additional harm to openness and local character and appearance. In the absence of very special circumstances to outweigh this harm, irrespective of impact on the SPA, she dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: Helen O’Connor; Written representations

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