CASEBOOK: Appeal cases - Housing: New build - Higher density judged to meet local plan policy

A proposal to build 55 dwellings following the demolition of two existing houses in Berkshire has been allowed after an inspector accepted that a density of 50 dwellings per hectare was appropriate and would not harm the character of the area.

The proposal involved previously developed land lying approximately 800m from a town centre. The scheme, promoted by Cala Homes (South) Ltd and Lypar Properties Ltd, was opposed by the council and local residents on the basis that the density should be no greater than 40 dwellings per hectare in order to protect the character of the area.

The inspector noted that a local plan policy supported a minimum density of 40 dwellings per hectare in such locations and that the local plan inspector had recommended that the council should pursue "with vigour" the higher density levels suggested in paragraph 58 of PPG3. She concluded that in principle, the site would support higher-density development subject to a satisfactory impact on the character of the area.

In assessing this issue, she observed that the site was relatively well contained because of extensive mature trees and that the public would have limited views of the site from the main road. She judged that the access road would not be an unusual feature in the area and would only be glimpsed by passers-by. The fact that views along the access road would be framed against a backdrop of trees would minimise the effect on the neighbourhood, she decided.

She concluded that while the form of development would be very different from that in the surrounding area, change was inevitable if the higher densities sought by PPG3 are to be achieved. The scheme would have a character and identity of its own and would be relatively separate from existing residential areas, she found. She also agreed that residents living on either side of the access road would not experience unacceptable levels of noise disturbance and that visibility splays would be adequate.

In allowing the appeal, the inspector made a partial award of costs in favour of the appellants. She concluded that the council had failed to explain why a density in excess of 40 dwellings per hectare was not justified on the appeal site, having regard to its local plan policies. In addition, she ruled that it had failed to substantiate part of its highway objection and an alleged loss of light to an adjoining property.

DCS No: 31349808; Inspector: Sara Morgan; Inquiry.

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