Applicants Anthony, Steven and Jill Rew appealed against Teignbridge District Council’s failure to determine their outline application within the prescribed timescales.
The application sought consent for a mixed-use residential-led development that would include 1,210 homes, up to 12,650 square metres of employment floorspace, two care homes, community facilities, a local centre, open space and associated infrastructure.
A full application for the change of use of the site's existing agricultural buildings to a hotel, restaurant and bar was also considered as part of the appeal.
The appeal was recovered by the secretary of state in July 2018 and inspector Frances Mahoney held a public local inquiry between 26 March and 10 July 2019. Mahoney recommended the appeal should be allowed and planning permission granted.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick advised that the principle of whether the outline application was acceptable was not in question as the site had been allocated in the Teinbridge local plan.
However, he advised that the proposed development would cause “less than substantial harm” to the Grade-I listed parish church of St Mary the Virgin, on the “mid to upper level of a sliding scale”, that “should be weighed against the public benefits” of the scheme.
Jenrick noted that the development would provide 1,210 homes and a policy-compliant affordable housing contribution of 20 per cent, and granted these two factors “very significant weight” in favour of the proposal.
Plans for two care homes and community facilities were attributed “moderate weight” in favour, while the scheme's economic benefits were given “significant weight” and highway improvements “moderate weight”.
Overall, Jenrick judged the benefits of the proposed development to be “collectively sufficient” to outweigh any harm to the significance of the church.