Gypsy and traveller site not permitted in deeply rural valued landscape

24 Aug 2023

Planning and Environment

Appeals against refusal to grant planning permission and enforcement notice dismissed: 21 August 2023.

These appeals related to the refusal of Kettering Borough Council, now North Northamptonshire Council to grant permission for a gypsy and traveller site at 24B Greenfields, Northamptonshire. The two appeals were dismissed because of the impact on valued landscape character and views.

On the main issue Inspector J A Murray LLB(Hons) Dip.Plan.Env DMS Solicitor, an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government held that, should the proposals proceed, they would cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the area. The Appeals should be dismissed even in the face of a lack of a five-year supply of gypsy sites.

In relation to the impact on landscape character, the Inspector considered Stroud DC v SSCLG & Gladman Developments Ltd [2015] EWHC 448 (Admin) and Forest of Dean DC v SSCLG [2016] EWHC 2429 (Admin) finding that a landscape does not have to be nationally or locally designated to be a valued landscape for the purposes of the Framework. He found the landscape valued because it had physical attributes that take it out of the ordinary, in particular the site was in a location where the deeply rural quality of the landscape identified in the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment was marked. Although the appellant contended that the Council’s Joint Core Strategy Policy 3 was inconsistent with the Framework because it seeks conservation and, where possible, enhancement, whereas the Framework only requires the protection and enhancement of valued landscapes, this argument was misconceived as the policy did not have to precisely replicate the wording of  the Framework. (Decision letter [31-39]).

In relation to the other main issues he found:

  • Joint Core Strategy Policy 31 was not inconsistent with the Framework on the basis that criterion (a) requires sites to be closely linked to an existing settlement with an adequate range of services and facilities. The wording ‘closely linked’ does not preclude rural sites and is compatible with the Planning Policy for Travellers Sites, which seeks at paragraph 25 to very strictly limit new traveller site development in open countryside that is away from existing settlements. The appeal site was not closely linked, either spatially or functionally, to an existing settlement with an adequate range of services and facilities. There was therefore conflict with JCS Policy 31(a) and PPTS paragraph 25;
  • Given that the appellant’s family had not been living on the appeal site for some time and may not be able to do so for some time to come, personal circumstances carried limited weight in favour of the appeal in this case.

The substantial weight afforded to the harm to a valued landscape alongside the harm caused by the unsustainable nature of the development outweighed the lack of a 5 year supply of gypsy and traveller pitches, and the families’ personal needs including the best interests of the children when considering whether to grant either a permanent or temporary permission (decision letter [71-5]).

Please click here for a copy of the decision.

David Lintott acted for the Local Planning Authority. Cornerstone Barristers regularly acts for both Local Planning Authorities and Developers in a wide range of planning matters. For more information please contact 020 7242 4986 or email our clerks.