Inspector allows 95-home development within Devon Area of Great Landscape Value

Out-Law News | 29 Jul 2014 | 5:30 pm | 1 min. read

A planning inspector has overruled a Devon local authority and granted permission for a developer to build 95 homes on a greenfield site in an area designated as an 'Area of Great Landscape Value'.

Planning inspector Richard McCoy allowed developer Devonshire Homes’ appeal against a previous decision by North Devon Council to refuse outline permission for the proposals.

The developer applied in August 2013 for outline planning permission for a 95-home development on 2.8 hectares of fields to the west of the town of Chulmleigh. The site lay outside the town's defined development boundary but the Council's strategic housing land availability assessment had identified it as suitable for the development of up to 30 dwellings. The Council refused the application in November 2013 considering the scale of the proposal to be unsympathetic to the character of the area.

McCoy said in his decision letter (15-page / 153 KB PDF) that, since the Council was unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land, a policy retained from the North Devon local plan for 1995 to 2011, restricting development to sites within settlement boundaries, was out of date for the purposes of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The inspector therefore applied the NPPF policy that: "where relevant policies are out of date, permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of so doing would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits".

Allowing the appeal, McCoy was satisfied that "the proposal could form an attractive addition to this edge of town location without injury to either the historic built grain or the attractive local landscape setting." The site's location on the edge of the town meant that development could take place "without swamping its historic character", said the inspector. Although the site was within the Upper Farmed Wooded Valley Slopes character area, the inspector decided that it was "not a prominent feature in terms of its physical relationship with the rest of the town and the surrounding landscape".

Weighing in favour of the scheme were the facts that the proposal would "help to meet the acknowledged shortfall in housing land supply", "improve the tenure mix and provide an opportunity for younger members of the town to take their first steps on the housing ladder" and provide highway improvements and public open spaces of benefit to the wider community.

The Council had argued that allowing the appeal would prejudice its emerging local plan. Dismissing the argument, the inspector said that the development would not have a significant impact on the emerging local plan and that, in any case, it had not yet been submitted for examination and was subject to unresolved objections.