CASEBOOK: Appeal cases - Housing: New build - Redevelopment judged threat to ancient monument

A proposal to redevelop a building within a young offenders' institute on the edge of a Kent town for five dwellings has been rejected because it would undermine rural restraint policies, would be detrimental to the character and appearance of a conservation area and the setting of an ancient monument and would risk damaging archaeological remains.

The site fell outside the urban boundary but within a finger of countryside extending into the town. It occupied a prominent position in the conservation area, at the top of an embankment that formed part of former military defences dating from the Napoleonic wars. The complex was also a scheduled ancient monument.

The inspector acknowledged the appellant's view that the site was brownfield land close to the town's primary shopping frontage. She also noted that PPG3 indicates that sites within urban areas should be developed before those in rural settings and that sites accessible by means of transport other than the car should be developed before less accessible sites.

Although the site was located approximately one kilometre from the town centre, she felt that the topography was such that many people would not wish to walk or cycle and there was no bus service. As most journeys would be car-borne, she ruled that the proposal would run counter to the objective of achieving a more sustainable pattern of housing development.

The inspector considered that the proposed terraced houses would have a distinctly contemporary style and design that would be at odds with older housing nearby. She also felt that the introduction of domestic items into the long rear gardens proposed, extending down the full length of the embankment, would be harmful to the character and appearance of the conservation area. The enclosure of the rear gardens and their subdivision would have a significant adverse effect on the setting of the ancient monument, she found.

Given that the site was located within a scheduled ancient monument, the inspector held that it was in an area where important archaeological remains might exist. In the absence of an archaeological assessment, she concluded that it would not be safe for the proposal to proceed, even if all other aspects of the proposal were acceptable, because of possible harm to archaeological remains.

DCS No: 48814175; Inspector: Sally Walker; Written representations.

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