At the outset the inspector gave limited weight to the council’s housing distribution policies which restricted development outside of settlement boundaries as she felt their wording was not in conformity with the Framework in that they referred to exceptions. In assessing the harm arising from the scheme, the inspector opined that due to the presence of new development to the north and east, the appeal site was contained by built form, had limited visual connection with the wider countryside and was located amongst domestic development. As a result, she held the proposal would not be out of character with its surroundings or the character and form of the settlement. The inspector noted the settlement was a designated service centre and had a wide range of services and facilities. The appeal site was within easy walking and cycling distance of all the services and facilities and there was a bus service which provided connections to the wider area. In addition, the council confirmed that a development limit boundary was not proposed in the appeal site settlement as part of the housing strategy in their emerging local plan, and, when adopted, the site would no longer be outside development limits.
The inspector concluded the appeal site would be suitable for housing development in terms of national and local planning policy. She found limited conflict with the housing distribution policies but afforded great weight to the fact that the housing was to be provided on a small site in an accessible location and of a mix of types and sizes, and regardless that the council were able to show a five-year supply of housing land. The inspector concluded the positive factors of the proposal were sufficient to outweigh the harm from the local plan conflict and that the scheme should be allowed as a decision otherwise than in accordance with the development plan.
Inspector: Diane Cragg; Written representations