The council, appellant and inspector agreed the proposed redevelopment of the vacant buildings for housing constituted inappropriate development in the green barrier, which was by definition harmful. However, adopted local plan policy permitted development in such areas where they would not contribute to coalescence of settlements or unacceptably harm the open character and appearance of the green barrier. The inspector noted the replacement dwellings would have a reduced footprint compared to the existing monastery, associated dwelling and outbuildings, would be lower in overall height terms and occupy roughly the same area as the existing buildings. For these reasons the inspector held the proposal would not threaten coalescence between the two nearest villages and would have a positive impact on the openness of the green barrier.
The inspector considered that as the site was previously developed land, was in walking distance of a bus route, shops and services, it constituted a sustainable location for the new homes and was a better option than leaving the site vacant. In finding no harm to the purposes or character of the green barrier from the proposal, the inspector held exceptional circumstances existed to justify granting permission in this particular case and this was regardless of the housing land supply position.
Inspector: A Thickett; Written representations