National park setting impact cited in homes refusal

Concerns over landscape impact have led to refusal of plans for 154 homes in open countryside on the edge of a Staffordshire town.

The council accepted that it could not show a five-year housing land supply, so the tilted balance in favour of development in paragraph 11(d) of the NPPF applied. In considering the scheme’s impact on landscape, character and appearance, the inspector found that the appeal proposal would be highly visible from a range of viewpoints. In his view, it would relate poorly to the adjoining settlement form, protrude unnaturally beyond a tree line into a valley landscape and cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the site and wider landscape. In his view, the appellants’ landscape and visual assessment completely downplayed the proposal’s impact on the valley farmland landscape.

Even though the site was located two kilometres from the boundary of the Peak District National Park, he afforded considerable weight to the park authority’s concerns that the scheme would harm the park’s setting by intruding into open landscape. In his view, it would create an unsympathetic, strongly urbanising presence, disrupting long-distance views of iconic topographical features in the park.

The inspector concluded that the proposal failed to recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, contrary to paragraph 170 of the NPPF, or to conserve the national park’s landscape and scenic beauty, as required by paragraph 172. He opined that while the first arm of paragraph 11(d) did not apply, since it was only the setting of the national park that would be affected rather than the park itself, he concluded that the scheme’s adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh its housing, economic and biodiversity benefits when assessed against NPPF policies as a whole. 

Inspector: Mike Hayden; Written representations

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