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Assessing Openness and Weighing Housing Need in the Green Belt

Ashley Bowes has successfully represented Waverley Borough Council to resist a development of up to 20 new dwellings in the Green Belt in Surrey following a two-day public inquiry.

The decision contains a useful application of the guidance in Turner v SSCLG [2016] EWCA Civ. 466 on assessing the impact on "openness" (see paragraphs 30-36).

The Inspector acceded to the Council's case that the redevelopment of the former nursery site would reduce the openness of the Green Belt and therefore amount to inappropriate development. Further, in spite of the site comprising "previously developed land", close to the settlement of Witley and there being a shortfall in the supply of housing land, material considerations did not clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and any other harm such as to amount to very special circumstances.

The decision is likely to be useful for those promoting or resisting residential schemes in the Green Belt, especially in authorities lacking a five-year supply of housing land, as well as a useful application of the Turner principles on "openness".