Village homes backed despite conflict with hierarchy

The social and economic benefits of 80 new homes outweigh limited harm to the character and appearance of an area of Bedfordshire with a five-year supply of housing land, an inspector has decided.

The homes, including a 35 per cent affordable quota, were proposed in open countryside adjacent to but outside the defined settlement boundary of a village as defined in adopted and emerging development plans. The inspector acknowledged that this brought the scheme into conflict with adopted policy, affording this factor full weight in the planning balance.

The council argued that the site was in a constrained area of open countryside between two villages, making an important contribution to the setting and sense of place in both. The area was also defined in saved local plan policy as an important gap where development was to be resisted, it pointed out. But the inspector considered that the siting of the proposed homes and extensive landscaping would ultimately enhance the existing abrupt settlement edge.

She also held that the proposal would not result in visual coalescence of the two villages, due to the separation distances involved. She found no conflict with local plan policy in these regards. Despite the conflict with the settlement hierarchy, she could see no significant harm from the proposal in other respects and afforded the benefits of the new homes, ecological enhancements and jobs created greater weight in the planning balance. 

Inspector: Jennifer Vyse; Hearing


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