The mainly grassed half-hectare site lay at the side of a house on the edge of a large residential area. It was surrounded by development on three sides and separated from the wider green belt by a bridleway, which provided a permanent and recognisable boundary. Beyond the bridleway lay protected ancient woodland.
In the inspector’s judgement, building homes on this relatively small area could be seen as rounding off previous development rather than a precursor to further loss of other green belt land, which in his view would continue to prevent urban sprawl and coalescence. While giving substantial weight to harm to the green belt from the appeal development, he concluded that this was significantly moderated by the creation of a clear and more defensible boundary.
In the context of a persistent underdelivery of housing in the borough and an out-of-date time-expired local plan, the inspector acknowledged that some sacrifice of green belt will be unavoidable to provide enough homes. In his opinion, the appeal scheme’s contribution towards meeting housing needs outweighed very limited harm to the green belt, providing the very special circumstances necessary to justify allowing the appeal.
Inspector: Jonathan Price; Hearing