Pickles allows 425-home development near Grade II-listed Hampshire farm complex

Out-Law News | 24 Sep 2014 | 5:05 pm | 1 min. read

Secretary of state for communities and local government (SoS) Eric Pickles has allowed an appeal (59-page / 518 KB PDF) that will permit the construction of 425 homes on farmland surrounding Grade II-listed farm buildings in Hampshire.

Developer Crudance Strategic Ltd applied to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council in November 2012 for planning permission to build a 425-home residential development, with six hectares of public open space, on farmland in Chineham, near Basingstoke. When the Council failed to make a decision on the application, the developer appealed and the appeal was called in by the SoS.

In considering the appeal, Pickles noted that the Council was unable to demonstrate a deliverable five-year supply of housing land. Policies that would have prevented housing development outside the existing settlement boundary were, therefore, considered out-of-date.

Pickles gave “considerable importance and weight” to the harm that would be caused to the setting of a Grade II-listed 17th and 18th century farm complex under the proposals, by altering the background against which they were set from agricultural fields and hedgerows to a new housing estate.

Pickles disagreed with inspector Paul Griffiths' suggestion that "it is difficult to envisage how an impact on setting, rather than a physical impact on special architectural and historic interest could ever cause substantial harm". The SoS noted that the UK government's planning policy guidance considered that "harm to a heritage asset's significance may arise from development within its setting". However, Pickles concluded that the harm caused to the significance of the farm complex in this case would be "less than substantial".

Pickles also gave “some weight” to the perceived adverse impacts that the development would cause to the landscape, by what Griffiths had described as the erosion of the "obvious and pleasing natural quality" of the fields and hedgerows on the site. "Limited weight" was given to the fact that the site was allocated for around 420 homes in the Council's emerging review of its Local Plan.

Allowing the appeal, the SoS agreed with the planning inspector that the adverse impacts of the proposals “do not come close to significantly outweighing the benefits”. In particular, Pickles gave “significant weight” to the provision of 425 homes, with up to 40% affordable housing, in an area with a “significant and serious shortfall in housing”, and to economic benefits, including construction jobs, New Homes Bonus funding and increased local spending, that would result from allowing the scheme.

The Council, or any other interested party, has six weeks to challenge the decision in the High Court.