The former builder’s yard adjoined a church in a built-up residential area of the town and had been laid out as an urban park in 2009, although it had, prior to that, been granted outline permission for housing. The inspector noted that the trees to one of the roadside frontages had recently been felled and that the park looked unkempt, but she considered this latter factor was most likely due to the lack of maintenance during the coronavirus pandemic.
The inspector referred to the NPPF in her deliberations which advised open spaces should not be built on unless shown to be surplus to requirements, they were to be replaced by equivalent or better provision or development was for alternative sports and recreational provision. Not one of these criteria were even attempted to be met in this case and so the inspector concluded the proposal was contrary to local and national policy with consequential detrimental effects on the health and well-being of local residents. She also considered the park had visual amenity value in a densely built-up part of the town, contributing to the wider network of green space and green infrastructure and its loss would harm local distinctiveness and would not contribute positively to place-making, even despite the loss of the trees at the site.
The appellant had argued the proceeds from the sale of the land for housing would enable improvements to the church building and community outreach work. However, the inspector noted no mechanism was proposed to secure the delivery of such community benefits and there was no substantiation that such benefits would outweigh the loss of the open space. She dismissed the former residential permission at the site as a fallback as it was in a different plan period and before the designation of the site as an open space.
Inspector: Sarah Manchester: Written representations