A planning Inspector has dismissed an appeal concerning a proposed housing scheme of up to 245 dwellings on land in South Oxfordshire adjacent to Reading.
The decision is of particular note because of the Inspector's consideration of the Written Ministerial Statement on Housing Land Supply in Oxfordshire and his approach to landscape harm under the revised NPPF.
The Inspector accepted the submissions of South Oxfordshire District Council and the Rule 6 Party, Campaign Against Gladman in Eye and Dunsden, that the proposal did not accord with development plan policies for the location of housing development and that the policies most important in deciding the appeal were not out of date. Paragraph 11(d) of the NPPF was thus not engaged on that basis.
He considered the recent Written Ministerial Statement setting out a government commitment as part of the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal to permit planning flexibilities on housing land supply pending preparation of a Joint Statutory Spatial Plan.
He accepted that as a result of this statement, planning policy is amended for the purposes of decision-taking under paragraph 11(d) such that footnote 7 of the NPPF will only apply where the authorities in Oxfordshire cannot demonstrate a three year, rather than a five year, supply of deliverable housing sites.
As the Inspector found that the Council could demonstrate a three year supply of deliverable housing sites with an appropriate buffer, the tilted balance in paragraph 11(d) was not triggered.
Turning to the character and appearance of the site, the Inspector found that, although not a valued landscape for the purposes of paragraph 170 of the NPPF, the landscape of which the site forms part has significant value. He thus found that the proposed development would erode the open setting of the Chilterns AONB and would thus cause unacceptable harm to the character and appearance of the area.
The Inspector concluded by noting that even if paragraph 11(d) had been engaged, the adverse impacts of the proposal including the visual effect of the development within the landscape would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, such that the proposal would have still been refused.
The decision is available here.
Robin Green acted for South Oxfordshire District Council.
John Fitzsimons acted for the Rule 6 Party, Campaign Against Gladman in Eye and Dunsden.