After calling in the applications, the secretary of state recognised that the proposals were not in accordance with the local development plan but went on to consider other material considerations. In this respect, he noted that the council did not have a five-year housing land supply, with a deficit of around 1,300 homes. He concluded that its spatial strategy was out of date and the presumption in favour of sustainable development in paragraph 11 of the NPPF applied.
After assessing whether the impact on protected green belt and a registered park and garden provided a clear reason for refusal, he agreed with his inspector that the green belt and heritage policy tests in the NPPF were satisfied, given the range and magnitude of the scheme’s socio-economic benefits. These outweighed harm and provided very special circumstances for development in the green belt, he concluded.
The substantial economic and social benefits of the golf resort proposal included an estimated 1,686 jobs and £1.1 billion generated. The secretary of state saw this as particularly significant in an area with high levels of deprivation and economic inactivity. He also held that the project represented the optimum viable use for the historic park in which it was proposed, in accordance with PPG. As the proposal was predicated on a successful bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2030 or 2034, he agreed with the inspector that both developments should only proceed if this was secured, as covenanted in a section 106 agreement.
Inspector: Karen Ridge; Inquiry