The importance of sustainable development when it comes to gypsy and traveller sites

01 Sep 2022

Planning and Environment

Appeals against refusal to grant planning permission and enforcement notice dismissed:

30 August 2022.

These appeals related to the refusal of Kettering Borough Council, now North Northamptonshire County Council to grant permission for a gypsy and traveller site including 8 pitches at Loddington, Northamptonshire. The two appeals were dismissed because of impact on landscape, assessed as valued landscape, character and views, road safety concerns, ecological concerns, conflict with the Council’s spatial strategy and by virtue of the intentional unauthorised nature of the development.

On the main issues Inspector J A Murray LLB(Hons) Dip.Plan.Env DMS Solicitor,  an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government held that, should the proposals proceed, they would cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the area, have an unacceptable effect on highway safety, they would not be sustainably located with reference to accessibility, and they would cause harm to the ecology of the site, particularly with reference to the adjacent Cransley reservoir. The proposals would conflict with the key Development Plan Policy (JCS Policy 31), undermining the Council’s Spatial Development Strategy. The Appeals should be dismissed even in the face of a lack of a five year supply of gypsy sites.

In relation to impact on landscape character, the Inspector found that it was appropriate for him to assess whether the landscape was valued for the purposes of paragraph 174 of the NPPF, and he found that it was. The Inspector found significant and unacceptably adverse impact on both landscape character and views.

In relation to the other impacts he found:

  • the appeal site is not closely linked, either spatially or functionally, to an existing settlement with an adequate range of services and facilities. There was therefore conflict with JCS Policy 31(a) and PPTS paragraph 25;
  • highway safety fell to be assessed under DMRB guidelines not MfS, and accordingly because of restricted visibility, there would not be satisfactory and safe access to the site, and there would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety;
  • in relation to ecology the development would result in contaminated runoff impacting on the Cransley Reservoir Local Wildlife site and the development had already had (and would if permitted continue to have) a harmful impact that was substantial in relation to grassland of value, moderate to substantial in respect of protected species (reptiles and bats), and moderate to substantial in relation to Cransley Reservoir (but that impact could be partially reversed if permission were refused); and
  • in all the circumstances, including the implications for archaeology, and notwithstanding that the site is not within the Green Belt, the fact that this was Intentional Unauthorised Development should carry significant weight against the appeal.

These factors outweighed the lack of a 5 year supply of gypsy and traveller pitches, and the families’ personal needs including the best interests of the children.

Please click here for a copy of the decision.

David Lintott acted for the Local Planning Authority in the Inquiry. Ed Grant acted for the Loddington Parish Council Rule 6 Party. Cornerstone Barristers regularly acts for both Local Planning Authorities and Developers in a wide range of planning matters.

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