Heritage and outlook objections thwart village homes

Concerns over harm to a Dorset village’s form and character and to nearby heritage assets have led to dismissal of plans for 85 new homes and a community facility on its edge.

The appeal site comprised a large open field on rising ground adjacent to the village conservation area. In the inspector’s view, the land made a strong contribution to the village's rural character and setting because of views both into and out of the settlement. He felt that the appeal scheme’s layout would be poorly integrated with the established street network and that the loss of rural outlook and suburbanisation of the area would harm the village’s setting village, contrary to adopted local plan and neighbourhood plan policies.

The inspector held that the development would sever the visual and physical interconnection of a grade II* listed church opposite the site from its historic landscape setting and undermine appreciation of its landmark quality and prominence within the village, causing less than substantial harm. He also considered that it would diminish appreciation of the village’s historic scale, layout and relationship to the landscape setting, again causing less than substantial harm.

Finally, the inspector attached great weight to harm to four Bronze Age ring ditches suggesting the presence of burial mounds. Although Historic England had not formally objected to the scheme or moved to schedule the site, it advised that the site was potentially of national importance. In this light, the inspector applied footnote 63 and paragraph 194(b) of the NPPF, equating the site to a scheduled ancient monument. Despite none of the archaeological features being clearly visible, he concluded that destruction of three of the mounds under the appeal proposals would cause substantial harm that could not be mitigated.

Weighing the heritage balance, the inspector attached limited weight to the social and economic benefits of the new homes, including 34 affordable, because the neighbourhood plan allocated another site that could provide more than enough to meet local need. He found the new community facilities proposed unnecessary to make the scheme acceptable in planning terms and again afforded them limited weight. He concluded that its public benefits were insufficient to overcome substantial heritage harms that justified refusal in their own right. 

Inspector: Benjamin Webb; Written representations

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