The importance of time depth in a valued landscape, the rural setting of listed buildings and developing in accordance with an adopted spatial strategy

23 Jan 2024

Planning and Environment, Local Government

Planning Permission refused for 162 dwellings

at Land East of Knowle Lane, Cranleigh

This s.78 planning inquiry related to proposed housing development beyond the built-up area boundary. The appeal into an outline application for 162 dwellings was dismissed because of impact on landscape character and views, listed buildings and conflict with Waverley Borough Council’s spatial strategy.

On the main issues Inspector J Woolcock BNatRes (Hons) MURP DipLaw MRTPI, an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State, found that, should the proposal proceed, the proposed development would have an unacceptable adverse effect on the character and appearance of the area and would result in unacceptable harm to designated heritage assets. The proposal conflicted with the development plan. The planning balance fell against the proposal and the scheme gained no support from the NPPF when taken as a whole (paragraph [89]). This was so even applying the titled balance under paragraph 11(d) of the NPPF which applied as a result of the lack of a five-year housing land supply.

The case is interesting as it contains a long and detailed consideration by the Inspector of how the application of the Landscape Institute’s Technical Guidance Note (TGN) 02/21 “Assessing landscape value outside national designations” can be employed to determine whether landscape is valued or not for the purposes of applying paragraph 180 of the NPPF, including consideration of the critical importance of time depth to any such determination (paragraphs [18-36]). The assessment that this was a valued landscape weighed heavily against the proposal as did the harm it would cause to listed buildings by developing part of the agricultural rural setting (paragraph [48-53]).

Inspector Woolcock also addressed the Council’s spatial policies, Policy SP1 and SP2 (paragraphs [85-6]). In respect of the former which, reflects provisions of the NPPF and seeks to secure development that improves the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area, he found that given the planning balance in this case and the conflict identified with the NPPF, the proposal would not accord with Policy SP1. In respect of the latter, which seeks to avoid major development on land of the “highest amenity and landscape value”, he found that this policy does not only apply to landscapes that have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty, rather whether a particular parcel of land can so be described, or not, is a matter of planning judgement. In this case, he considered that the valued landscape identified falls within land of the highest amenity and landscape value for the purposes of applying Policy SP2, and accordingly that the proposal would conflict with it.

Please click here for a copy of the decision.

David Lintott acted for the Local Planning Authority in the Inquiry. John Litton KC acted for the Appellant. Cornerstone Barristers regularly acts for both Local Planning Authorities and Developers in a wide range of planning matters. For more information please contact 020 7242 4986 or email