Economic benefits of housing in Long Stratton not exceptional

02 Sep 2019

Planning and Environment

Planning Permission refused for 52 dwellings in Long Stratton, Norfolk.

This s.78 planning appeal related to proposed housing development at St Mary’s Road, Long Stratton, Norfolk. The decision is of interest because it interprets South Norfolk’s Development Plan policies in circumstances where it is now able to demonstrate a five year supply of housing.

On the main issue Katie McDonald MSc MRTPI an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government held that the economic, social and related benefits of providing housing outside the settlement boundary along with moderate environmental benefits were not exceptional so as to constitute overriding benefits capable of outweighing the plan led, policy, landscape and visual harms.

Ms McDonald found that Policy 1.3 (2) d) of the South Norfolk Local Plan requires that a proposal outside of settlement boundaries should demonstrate overriding benefits in terms of economic, social and environmental dimensions for it to be considered acceptable. Overriding benefits means that a development must provide overriding reasons to develop in the countryside and outside the defined settlement boundary. This would include weighing up the fundamental policy harm in allowing un-planned development in what should be a genuinely plan-led planning system, along with any additional harm arising. To present overriding benefits is to present benefits that are more important than anything else, and as a result, the development would have to be exceptional (Paragraph 18 and 45).

Ms McDonald also found that although the development would not have a significant adverse impact on the distinctive landscape characteristics, it would result in moderate harm to landscape character and minor harm to visual appearance. It would therefore not respect, conserve and where possible, enhance the landscape character of its immediate and wider environment contrary to Development Plan policy. It would also not conserve and enhance the natural environment, contrary to the Framework. (Paragraphs 26-7).

The benefits taken together would not be more important than anything else, exceptional or overriding; bearing in mind the plan led, policy, landscape and visual harms. Thus, the proposal would not present overriding benefits in terms of economic, social and environmental dimensions, and was contrary to Policy 1.3. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed (Paragraphs 48-9).

Please click here for a copy of the decision.

David Lintott acted for the Local Planning Authority in the Inquiry. Mark Lowe QC also of Cornerstone Barristers acted for the Appellant, Orbit Homes (2020) Ltd.

Cornerstone Barristers regularly acts for both local planning authorities and developers in a wide range of planning matters.