Sat, 09 Dec 2017
A PLANNING inspector has upheld West Berkshire Council’s refusal to allow a major housing development in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in Kintbury.
No exceptional circumstances had been demonstrated to justify such a development in the AONB, he ruled.
In March, district planners rejected the application for the homes on land north of Irish Hill Road.
Nearly 70 letters of objection were received from residents, plus objections from the North Wessex Downs AONB group and from the district council’s tree officer.
A district council planning officer’s report had stated: “The council has a clear, five-year housing land supply... so that there is no need to allocate/ permit further sites such as this in the AONB, which is clearly contrary to policy, being on a greenfield site outside the defined settlement boundary of Kintbury.”
The appeal, by Endurance Estates Strategic Land, for 72 homes, was linked to, and was heard alongside, an appeal against refusal for a similar application by the same developer for 32 new homes at the site.
Both were rejected.
In outlining the case for appealing the refusal, the applicant stated: “The appellant considers that there are exceptional circumstances for the proposed development in the AONB and the delivery of this development has wider community benefits than simply meeting housing demands for both open market and affordable dwellings.
“Whilst the lack of a five-year housing supply is a central part of the appellant’s case, there are equally a series of compelling reasons across all three roles of sustainable development.
“In terms of transport impacts, it is considered that the residual cumulative impacts of development in this location is not severe.”
The inspector identified the main issues as traffic and the effect on the AONB.
He dismissed the former, stating: “Trip frequency is relatively low, as are vehicular speeds.”
However, the inspector warned of “creeping urbanisation” and added: “The result would, in my view, be the clear and apparent extension of the southern settlement across the plateau beyond the cusp of its descent to the valley floor beyond.
“This would have the demonstrable effect of urbanising the current limits of the settlement, diminishing the sense of rurality and eroding the delicate interface of historic settlement and open landscape beyond.”
He acknowledged: “Both proposals offer significant amounts of market and affordable housing now.
“They also offer collateral economic benefits and would underpin and sustain the rural village community through the use of existing local services.”
However, the inspector concluded: “These benefits... are very substantially outweighed by the significant harm to the... AONB in both the wider and local landscape context, to the setting of the Kintbury Conservation Area and, to a lesser degree, the harm to local green infrastructure.
“Finally, in the context of these conclusions, the demonstration by the council of a five-year supply of housing land and the absence of other compelling evidence, I find no exceptional circumstances that would justify the granting of planning permission for the proposal... in the AONB.”