Ashley Bowes and John Fitzsimons have successfully represented Braintree District Council to resist an appeal for 65 residential units at Finchingfield Road, Steeple Bumpstead, Essex.
The Inspector accepted the Council's submission that the less than substantial harm to the Grade II listed church and conservation area was not outweighed by the public benefits of the scheme. The Inspector also accepted that the scheme would fail to protect a valued landscape and would not be located in a sustainable location. Accordingly, in-spite of the housing land supply shortfall, the Inspector concluded material considerations did not justify departing from the statutory development plan.
The decision is worth a read for an analysis by an experienced Inspector of a number of topical issues:
First, it is a rare example of less than substantial harm to heritage assets, caused by development in their setting, leading to the refusal of planning permission where there is a housing land supply deficit (see: DL, 36)
Second, the Inspector rejected the Appellant's contention that simply because a pre-NPPF heritage policy fails to contain an express balancing exercise it is, for that reason, inconsistent with the NPPF (see: DL, 29)
Third, the Inspector also rejected the Appellant's submission that a policy which protected the countryside for its own sake was necessarily inconsistent with the NPPF (see: DL, 39)
Fourth, there is a useful analysis of the level of accessibility to services and facilities to be expected in a rural compared to an urban location (see: DL, 68 -85)
Fifth, in-spite of conflicting decisions, the Inspector accepted that paragraph 109 NPPF was a restrictive policy within footnote 9 to paragraph 14 NPPF, which disengaged the tilted balance in favour of the grant of planning permission (see: DL, 104).
This decision marks Ashley's fifth consecutive success resisting housing appeals for local authorities at public inquiries since the beginning of the year.
The Decision can be viewed here.