Tuesday 29 July 2014

The pressures to build on green fields: in the Southwest - "The lack of a local plan for meeting housing targets does not necessarily undermine the protection that our countryside merits."

There had been serious misgivings about allowing housing to be built in the valley popularised by Laurie Lee's writings:
Futures Forum: The pressures to build on green fields: in the Southwest - and across England

A particular application has just been turned down by a planning inspector:
Inspector blocks developer's bid to build Slad Valley homes | Planning Resource
Bitter sweet twist after Slad Valley is saved (From Stroud News and Journal)

As reported by the CPRE:

Slad Valley planning decision a fantastic victory for local countryside campaign

Friday, 25 July 2014 16:25
CPRE and CPRE Gloucestershire are delighted that the planning inspector has upheld the Stroud District Council’s decision to reject a housing development in the Slad Valley.
After a determined campaign by local residents and CPRE Gloucestershire against Gladman Developments’ plans to build 112 homes on Baxter’s Fields, the planning inspector has agreed that the addition of housing “would not be so great a benefit as to outweigh the disruption to the landscape quality of the valley” and rejected two Gladman appeals.
The inspector also concurred that the fields formed part of the setting for the area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) celebrated in Laurie Lee’s memoir Cider with Rosie, and was therefore valued landscape that the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) should protect.
As in many areas the lack of a local plan had left the land exposed under the NPPF’s presumption in favour of sustainable development. Yet the inspector’s decision establishes that land can be a valued landscape even without official designation, and that the lack of a local plan for meeting housing targets did not necessarily undermine the protection that our countryside merits.
Another planning decision near Stroud, meanwhile, has had a more disappointing outcome. A different inspector approved an appeal from Gladman in its application to build 150 houses on nearby Mankley Field between the villages of Leonard Stanley and King’s Stanley.
CPRE recognises that more houses must be built, but it is important that the right houses are built in the right places. CPRE’s new campaign #WasteOfSpace is encouraging the public to send in photos of brownfield sites for potential development – land which can be regenerated and ease the pressure on beautiful places like the Slad Valley.
Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, comments:
“We are delighted with the planning inspector’s decision.
“It represents an important precedent. Where there is no local plan in place, developers can be quick to take advantage of the NPPF’s presumption in favour of development. Yet this case shows that the value of the landscape is a vitally important consideration, and one that can take precedence over other considerations such as perceived housing need.
“The decision is a victory both for the energetic and passionate local campaigners and for the countryside.”
Simon Arundel, chair of CPRE Gloucestershire, Stroud District, comments:
“In Laurie Lee’s centenary year this decision gives us further cause to celebrate. It is just reward for the very considerable commitment and professional campaign of the local community and CPRE against an unwise and unwanted development proposal.
“At the same time we must also reflect on the continuing threat to the Stroud Valleys in a different decision granting permission for housing on a greenfield site between Leonard Stanley and King’s Stanley. There will be no rest for CPRE while such threats continue to arise.”

Slad Valley planning decision a fantastic victory for local countryside campaign - Campaign to Protect Rural England
Another developer’s appeal refused in an AONB despite no Local Plan | East Devon Alliance

However, another inspector in another part of the country has come to a different conclusion:

Countryside protection policy set aside due to lack of housing supply

Ninety-five homes have been allowed on greenfield agricultural land in the open countryside in Cheshire, an inspector deciding that the NPPF presumption in favour of sustainable development outweighed local plan policy in the context of a lack of a five year supply of housing land.

The inspector concluded that the council was unable to demonstrate a five-year supply and as a consequence local policy protecting the open countryside from housing development became out of date.
Reviewing the proposal against the three strands of sustainable development defined in the NPPF, the inspector found that the scheme fulfilled a social role by providing 30 per cent of units as affordable dwellings and would also support the viability of the community of the adjacent small town.  An economic benefit was derived from construction jobs and support for local businesses, generated from a site which was readily available and could be built and occupied within five years. In terms of environmental sustainability, the inspector noted that the houses would be within walking distance of the town centre services and that a hedgerow management plan had been offered by the  appellant. Although these environmental benefits were somewhat eroded by the harm to the verdant rural character of the area in overall terms the scheme was a sustainable one.
Inspector: Frances Mahoney; Inquiry
Countryside protection policy set aside due to lack of housing supply | Planning Resource
But the CPRE campaign continues:
Green belt hoped to be saved by Surrey charter - Get Surrey
As does the CoVoP campaign in Cheshire:

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