Exception to standard method justified in urban extension refusal

A major mixed use scheme for 228 homes, including six self-build and affordable housing, spine road, land for doctors surgery, care home site, pub-restaurant, amenity open space and an allotment site outside the edge of a settlement in Bedfordshire has been refused for harm to the intrinsic beauty of the countryside outweighing the socio-economic benefits of the proposals, regardless of the housing land supply position.

In terms of housing land supply, the inspector accepted that there was a clear and convincing justification for the council using the strategic housing market assessment approach in demonstrating a more than five-year supply of housing land, and not the national standard method which would have reduced the supply to only 3.64 years. This was because he agreed that the inaccuracy of the 2014-based sub-national population projections rendered them not fit for purpose in the standard method. The inspector referred to the High Court challenge of the New Road, Clifton appeal decisions (DCS Number 200-008-550) to reiterate that an exception could be made to the NPPF and PPG in this case.

Turning to the visual impacts of the proposal, the inspector held the site had an open rural character with rolling arable fields which made a positive contribution to the local landscape. In reviewing the appellants' arguments, the inspector held their assessments of the visual impacts of the scheme were understated and the mitigation effects of their proposed new landscaping of the site overstated. He also felt the existing strongly defined boundary of the settlement avoided a creeping urbanisation of the countryside conserving its rural setting and should be retained.

Inspector: Roger Catchpole; Inquiry

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