In a sweeping success for Charnwood Borough Council, a planning Inspector has upheld their refusal of planning permission on all grounds for a 66-unit scheme in the rural Leicestershire village of Rearsby, in-spite of the developer's contention that the Council could not demonstrate a five-year land supply.
The decision is of particular note for the Inspector's approach to the issue of "valued landscapes":
- First, the Inspector did not appear to find the new wording in paragraph 170 NPPF meant that only landscapes protected by legislation (e.g. AONBs) or those which are locally designated in the development plan can be "valued landscapes". There is some debate however as to whether the wording in the brackets within paragraph 170 NPPF confines the concept to those landscapes and indeed, the Inspector appeared to treat the lack of designation as being of some significance (see DL, 27).
- Second, the decision highlights that whether a site is or is not within a "valued landscape" is perhaps not so relevant in the terms of the new NPPF. The previous NPPF left open the possibility that a proposal which failed to protect a valued landscape amounted to a policy in the Framework which indicated that development "should be restricted". That ambiguity has now been removed by the new paragraph 11, which does not include valued landscapes within its scope. In this appeal, the Inspector found the harm to the landscape (albeit not "valued") weighed heavily in the balance in any event.
The Inspector found the harm to the landscape, the erosion of the area of local separation, the less than substantial harm to the conservation area arising from development within its setting and the loss of Grade 2 agricultural land, significantly and demonstrably outweighed the benefits of 66 new homes.
The Inspector's decision letter can be found here.
Dr Ashley Bowes acted for the successful Charnwood Borough Council.