Landscape and heritage harms trump homes in Hardy country

An outline proposal for 120 new homes in open countryside on the edge of a settlement in Dorset have been refused with heritage and valued landscape harms overriding the many benefits, even in an area of housing shortfall.

The appeal site was located near to a grade I listed manor house dating from the 15th century and associated listed buildings in a courtyard complex. The inspector held the proposed housing would permanently harm the setting of this complex and its special interest from the irreversible change to the agricultural land historically associated with it and from the visual intrusion of the proposed housing itself. Additionally, the inspector held the proposal would detract from the character and appearance of the surrounding conservation area, encompassing a deserted medieval village, through loss of views.

In landscape terms, the inspector held the site could be considered a valued landscape under paragraph 170 of NPPF for its scenic quality, conservation interests from a hillfort, deserted medieval village and the listed manor house complex and recreational value due to nearby walking trails and literary associations with Thomas Hardy. She concluded that there would be harm from the proposal in terms of the wider landscape form and context and significant visual harm to the landscape when in close vicinity, particularly form views linked to the heritage assets. In the heritage balance under paragraph 196 of the NPPF, the inspector concluded the public benefits of the scheme did not outweigh the harm to the heritage assets. As a consequence, paragraph 11 d) of the NPPF was engaged and the inspector concluded the harms were such that the proposal would not accord with the development plan taken as a whole. 

Inspector: Zoe Hill; Inquiry

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