In a clear indication that housing developers are not having it all their own way, preservation of open countryside prevailed as the High Court scotched plans for a residential development in rural Nottinghamshire – despite the acknowledged inadequacy of the area’s supply of housing land.
The proposal was for eight new homes on land to the rear of a country pub which had in the past been used for keeping horses. The local authority accepted that it could not show a five-year supply of housing land in the area and that, under the National Planning Police Framework, there was therefore a presumption in favour of planning permission being granted.
However, in refusing consent, the council took the view that the site was part of a valuable 'green wedge' between existing built-up areas. If built, the new homes would be surrounded by green fields and would have an adverse impact on the character of the countryside. The council's decision was subsequently upheld by a planning inspector.
In challenging that decision before the High Court, the would-be developer argued, amongst other things, that the inspector erred in failing to take into account the impact on the area's rural outlook of a larger, 230-home, development for which planning permission had already been granted.
However, in dismissing the appeal, the Court found that the inspector had taken all relevant considerations into account and that his decision was in no way irrational. The larger development, which was on an edge-of-town site, was 'fundamentally different' to the more isolated proposal and the inspector had been entitled to treat it as 'immaterial' to the balancing exercise he had to perform.