Harm to setting not outweighed by improvements to listed building

Six new homes at a listed farmhouse in Essex were refused for their unsuitable location in open countryside and harm caused to the setting of the listed building.

The appellant had argued that the removal of unsympathetic extensions to the listed farmhouse and outbuildings within its curtilage, alongside six new homes in an area of housing shortfall, was sufficient public benefit to outweigh any harms arising from the proposal. The inspector agreed in part, but not overall. He agreed that the removal of the modern additions to the farmhouse would better reveal its architectural significance and the removal of the much-altered outbuildings would enhance the setting of the building, but he did not agree that this was sufficient public benefit to allow the new homes. This was because of the harm arising to the setting of the listed farmhouse from the six new dwellings, which the inspector thought would have a suburban character and would not appear convincingly as a group of buildings of vernacular agrarian character, evoking a farmstead context. He felt the rural character and experience of the site would be harmfully eroded and the dominance of the listed building as a high-status house would be meaningfully diminished.

In the heritage balance the inspector held that the serious overall harm that would arise from the proposal would not be outweighed by its moderate public benefits and the harm to a designated heritage asset would not have clear and convincing justification. On this basis, the inspector further concluded the tilted balance did not apply because of footnote 6 of the NPPF, and, in any event, as the benefits of the proposal would not outweigh the harm to the setting of the listed building, it followed that those benefits would not outweigh the totality of harm he had identified which also included the unsuitable location of the proposal in the open countryside contrary to the adopted spatial strategy. The inspector confirmed that this would be the case even if he had afforded limited weight to the conflicts with the spatial strategy because of a lack of a five-year housing land supply.

Inspector: Graham Chamberlain; Written representations

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