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Coombes Farm Development

Extract from Appeal Refusal Letter 2010
We have simply taken a copy of this letter in the public domain and, in the section shown, have not omitted or changed the wording at all. We have simply highlighted in red, particular issues picked out by the Inspector and Secretary of Sate and ask, what has changed?  The main issues are to do with Green Belt which are of sufficient significance as to offset the need for more housing required by Rochford. One wonders if the developer is relying upon possible new planning legislation that has recently received so much media attention, for there appears little else here to process a further planning application in the light of last year’s letter.

Abstract from letter of 22nd July 2010 refusing the appeal and giving reasons

Main issues

12. The Secretary of State considers that the main issues in this case are those listed by the Inspector at IR91

Whether the proposal would be inappropriate development in the Green Belt

13. The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s reasoning and conclusions with respect to whether the proposal would be inappropriate development in the Green Belt and the effect on the openness of the Green Belt, as set out at IR92 – 93.  He agrees that the proposal would be inappropriate development which would be harmful to the Green Belt (IR92).  He further agrees that the proposed housing development would extend the built up area beyond a clearly defined Green Belt boundary, encroaching into the open countryside, forming urban sprawl and reducing the openness of the appeal site (IR93).  He agrees that the harm to the Green Belt is substantial and carries significant weight against the proposal (IR93).

The effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area

14. The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s reasoning and conclusions, as set out at IR94 – 97, with regard of the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area.  He agrees that there would be material harm to the character and appearance of the area from the loss of an open and rural landscape which forms part of the distinct character of this part of Rochford, and he considers that the proposal would be in conflict with the LP in this respect (IR97).

Whether the proposal would assist in meeting national housing policy objectives

15. The Secretary of State has considered the Inspector’s reasoning and conclusions, as set out at IR98 – 105, with respect to whether the proposal would assist in meeting national housing policy objectives having regard to the range and supply of housing.  The Inspector’s conclusions on housing supply are based on the EoEP housing target for Rochford.  Measured against that target, he
concluded that at present there appears to be a very considerable shortfall in the 5 year housing land supply and poor provision of affordable housing, and that the contributions towards the range of housing and housing supply are both significant material considerations in favour of the proposal (IR105).  The Secretary of State agrees that there is a general shortage of affordable housing
and regards this as a significant consideration in favour of the proposal, even without placing any weight on the EoEP.  Revocation of the EoEP removes the numerical basis on which the Inspector concluded that there appears to be a very considerable shortfall in the 5 year housing land supply.  However, the Secretary of State considers that if a calculation on a new basis were to suggest a less
severe shortfall, then this would simply reinforce the Inspector’s conclusion at 3IR115 that considerations of housing shortfall and affordable housing, although substantial, are not, either individually or collectively, sufficient to clearly outweigh
the harms in terms of Green Belt and other harms (IR115).

Whether the proposal would meet national objectives on sustainable development

16. The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s reasoning and conclusions with regard to whether the proposal would meet national objectives to achieve sustainable development, as set out at IR107 – 109.  He agrees that, at present, the failure of the site to form part of a strategic approach, and its rejection as a result of a Sustainability Appraisal as a suitable location means that its
contribution to a sustainable pattern of development cannot be assured (IR109).  He further agrees that development of the appeal site would conflict with the aims of PPS1 and PPS3 in this matter and this weighs significantly against the proposal (IR109).

Other matters

17. The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s reasoning and conclusions with respect to access, transport, the conservation area, public safety, biodiversity, mineral resources, archaeology, outdoor recreation and flooding, as set out at IR110 – 111.
Whether any harm by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations

18. The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s reasoning and conclusions at IR112 – 115.  He has had regard to paragraph 3.2 of PPG2 which states that very special circumstances to justify inappropriate development will not exist unless the harm by reason of inappropriateness and any other harm is clearly outweighed by other considerations (IR112).  He agrees with the Inspector’s
conclusion that there would be substantial harm from the impact of the development on the Green Belt and that additional harm arises from the failure to comply with national objectives for sustainable development and the effect on the character and appearance of the area (IR115).  He agrees that other considerations of housing shortfall and affordable housing, although substantial, are not, either individually or collectively sufficient to clearly outweigh this harm and that very special circumstances do not therefore exist to justify the proposal (IR115)

Conditions & Planning Obligation

19. The Secretary of State has had regard to the proposed conditions set out at annex A of the Inspector’s Report, the Inspector’s assessment of conditions, as set out in IR79 - 84, and the policy tests in Circular 11/95.  The Secretary of State is satisfied that the proposed conditions are reasonable and necessary, and meet the tests of Circular 11/95.  However, he does not consider that they overcome his reasons for dismissing the appeal.

20. The Secretary of State has considered the planning obligation as executed by the appellant and made by Unilateral Undertaking under s.106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.  He agrees with the Inspector’s assessment of the Undertaking as set out at IR85 – 90.  With the exception of the health provision (IR90), he considers that the provisions in the undertaking are relevant and
necessary to the proposed development and comply with the policy tests in Circular 05/2005 and with the CIL Regulations (IR89).  For the reasons given by the Inspector at IR90, the Secretary of State has given no weight to the health provision in determining this appeal.  He does not consider that the other provisions would overcome his reasons for dismissing the appeal.

Overall Conclusions

21. The Secretary of State concludes that the appeal proposal is in conflict with the development plan and fails to accord with PPG2 and key sustainability aims in PPSs 1 and 3.  Having balanced the benefits of the proposal against the harm, he concludes that the benefits, taken either individually or cumulatively, would not clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and other harm.  The Secretary of State does not therefore consider that there are very special circumstances in this case that would justify inappropriate development in the Green Belt.  He therefore concludes that there are no material considerations of sufficient weight which require him to determine the application other than in accordance with the development plan