Sustainable homes judged an overdevelopment of village site

A build-to-rent scheme of seventeen small energy efficient houses on land towards the outskirts of a Kent village was rejected by an inspector as an out-of-keeping cramped form of development.

The principle of housing on the site of a former farmhouse and its extensive gardens was not in dispute but in assessing the impact on area character, the inspector considered the design and appearance of the proposed dwellings, particularly their narrow plot widths and mono-pitched roofs would greatly contrast with existing housing in the immediate locality notwithstanding permissions for higher density housing on other sites in the wider area. The appellant pointed to NPPF paragraph 131 support for innovative designs which promote high levels of sustainability such as this carbon-neutral scheme but the inspector noted this support was qualified by a requirement that they fit in with their surroundings. In his opinion, the proposal would appear unduly cramped in its context.

Although the council had identified a higher requirement for three-bed dwellings, the inspector noted there was still a need for two-bed homes and the proposal would satisfy other aspirations such as energy efficiency and affordability, also observing that balancing housing mix can be considered across a range of sites. The inspector found the scheme did not make provision for affordable housing, off-site open space or mitigation of effects on a SPA. He dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: Rory MacLeod; Written representations

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