Skip to main content

Appeal rejected due to loss of open space: East Langton Neighbourhood Plan

Appeal dismissed due to concerns over loss of open space
A recent appeal for 5 dwellings has been rejected by a Planning Inspector, in part, due to conflict with a Neighbourhood Plan - despite a Local Green Space designation having been removed during examination.

The development proposal, for the erection of 5 dwellings and children’s play area with associated vehicular access at land rear of the Hanbury Centre, Stonton Road, Church Langton LE16 7SZ, was initially refused outline planning permission by Harborough District Council. The subsequent appeal was dismissed by a Planning Inspector, see appeal reference: APP/F2415/W/18/3212873.

Relevant to this appeal is the East Langton Neighbourhood Plan (ELNP), which was formally made by Harborough District Council in June 2018.

Impact on open space, sport and recreation

In assessing the scheme, the Planning Inspector's main concern was that the development would lead to the loss of an open space used for sports and recreation.

The ELNP seeks to retain the appeal site as an open space, indicating the site on a map and describing it as a "Site of environmental and community significance, including Open Space, Sport & Recreation sites".

Local Green Space status

Where an open space satisfies certain criteria, Neighbourhood Plans can designate the open space as a 'Local Green Space'. This designation gives open spaces protection from development akin to 'Green Belt' policy.

The criteria which an open space must satisfy to qualify for Local Green Space designation are set out in paragraph 100 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Whilst the ELNP notes the significance of the appeal site to the local community for its recreational value, the site is not designated as a Local Green Space (LGS).

The submission version of the ELNP did in fact propose the site for LGS designation. However in his Report the Neighbourhood Plan Examiner concluded that whilst the site is an 'attractive green area', it does not satisfy the national policy criteria of being 'demonstrably special...'.

The Neighbourhood Plan Examiner also noted the 'sustainable location' of the open space, concluding:

I must consider whether its designation as an LGS might prevent the making of the Plan from contributing to the achievement of sustainable development.

This implies that the site's future development potential is somehow relevant to considering whether the site should be designated as LGS. The NPPF's criteria for designating LGS's do not require the assessment of a site's future development potential - rather it is an assessment of the open space's value to the community it serves at present.

The basic conditions require a neighbourhood plan as a whole to "contribute to the achievement of sustainable development". However it is unclear how the designation of one modest open space as a LGS would undermine the whole plan's contribution to delivering sustainable development.

Planning balance

At the time of the planning appeal, Harborough District could (and presumably still can) demonstrate in excess of a Five Year Supply of Housing Land - in other words, it has sufficient land supply to meet its housing needs in the short term. The NPPF's 'tilted balance' under the presumption in favour of sustainable development does not therefore apply in this case.

The site is located outside the defined Development Boundary which, the Inspector notes, is contrary to strategic policies in the district's Core Strategy.

In his Decision Letter, the Inspector makes reference to national policy which states that existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land should not be built on unless clearly surplus to requirements, or their replacement would be at least equal in quantity and quality.

The Inspector noted the ELNP's aspiration to retain the site for open space, sport and recreation, and perhaps takes a more sympathetic view than the Neighbourhood Plan Examiner, concluding that any future development potential is 'not significant at this time' and, 'since there will be periodic reviews and monitoring through the development plan process, if there should be a shortfall it will be appropriately addressed in the future'. In other words, a future review of the ELNP can consider whether the site should be retained in its current use, or should be allocated for development.

During the appeal local people clearly expressed their concerns regarding the potential loss of open space, along with evidence presented by the district council, leading the Inspector to note:

I have found from the evidence before me that the OSSR [open space, sport, recreation] site off Old School Walk is much valued by local people with strong opposition to it being taken away.

Ultimately, the Inspector concluded the proposal does not conform with the ELNP, certain strategic policies of the Core Strategy, and National Policy which seeks to protect open spaces for sport and recreation.

Importance of evidence

Through the appeal it was demonstrated that the appeal site is of particular local significance to the local community due to the site's recreational value. It is therefore regrettable that, during the examination process, the Neighbourhood Plan Examiner recommended the proposed Local Green Space designation be removed from the site.

The appeal process is lengthy and costly, and in this case will likely have caused a good deal of upset for the local community who faced the threat of losing a valued open space.

If the site had been designated as an LGS in the ELNP, the outcome would have been the same, the site would remain unsuitable for development - without requiring the expense of a planning appeal to determine this fact.

The ELNP was accompanied by a clear assessment of open spaces, and perhaps there was nothing more the ELNP could have done to convince the examiner the site should be designated.

However, it was the culmination of various evidence sources which led the Inspector to determine the site's recreational value. When making Local Green Space designations, it is essential that Neighbourhood Plans are accompanied by an assessment which demonstrates that the open space satisfies the NPPF's criteria. Crucially, this should contain clear evidence to demonstrate the open space is of 'particular local significance' to the community it serves. Local Green Spaces are a powerful tool, and consequently should be supported by robust evidence.

Locality has recently published a very helpful toolkit for making Local Green Space designations which explains the types of evidence that can be used as justification.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Neighbourhood Plan Review: Plans made in July 2019

Neighbourhood Plans provide a bespoke planning framework for the local area. No two plans are alike, although many have similar characteristics and address common themes. This post provides a short summary of those Neighbourhood Plans which successfully passed referendum in July 2019, highlighting the elements which make each plan locally specific and unique.

The purpose of this post is to celebrate the achievement of those communities in successfully preparing their Neighbourhood Plans, and to share the interesting ideas and policies for the benefit of others who are currently writing their plans. Links to the Neighbourhood Plans are provided throughout the post.
Navigate this post using the map July was a busy month, with a whopping 24 Neighbourhood Plans successfully passing referendum. To  make it easier to navigate this post, the location of the areas covered by each new Neighbourhood Plan are shown on the interactive map. Click on a marker to reveal a link to the plan's su…

Why the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan failed

News that the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan was rejected at referendum has spread rapidly across social media and has even been picked up by local and national press - see BBC article.

The story has garnered a lot of attention as it is highly unusual for a Neighbourhood Plan to be rejected. The Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan is only the third Neighbourhood Plan not to be supported by residents.

At the referendum held on 14 March 2019, the Neighbourhood Plan was rejected, albeit by a very slim margin of just 22 votes.
'No' Campaign Prior to the referendum, Labour town councillors led a campaign which encouraged local people to vote against the Neighbourhood Plan. 
Based on the literature shared by the campaign group, opposition to the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan appears to be pointed at three key issues: Impacts on the town and its infrastructure of the overall scale of growth Middlewich is expected deliverDisagreement with the individual sites identified by the Neighbourhood …

Latest stats show continued increase in house-building

Chart: All Things Neighbourhood Planning
Data source: Live tables on housebuilding: new build dwellings (Table 209), MHCLG

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has today published its latest data on house building in the United Kingdom. The graph shows the number of dwellings completed by financial year in England. Data is also available for the other home nations. However, Neighbourhood Planning is a feature of the English planning system only.

In 2017/18, there were more than 160,500 new homes constructed. - the highest rate of development since the financial crisis of 2007-08. As illustrated in the graph, the data shows a steady increase in number of homes built each year since the low-point of 2012-13, where less than 108,000 homes were built. 

The rate of development in 2017/18 is comparable to the period 2004 - 2006. Assuming this trend of increasing development rates continues into the current financial year, the number of homes constructed in 2018/19 could po…

Neighbourhood Plan Review: Plans Made in September 2019

This post explores Neighbourhood Plans which successfully passed referendum in September 2019, highlighting elements which make each plan locally specific and unique. The following Neighbourhood Plans passed referendum in September 2019:
Bawtry Neighbourhood Plan (Doncaster Council)Brackenfield Neighbourhood Plan (North East Derbyshire District Council)Chelford Neighbourhood Plan (Cheshire East Council)Congresbury Neighbourhood Plan (North Somerset Council)Glentworth Neighbourhood Plan (West Lindsey District Council)Hanslope Neighbourhood Plan (Milton Keynes Council)Hullavington Neighbourhood Plan (Wiltshire Council)Huntingdon Neighbourhood Plan (Huntingdonshire District Council)Misterton Neighbourhood Plan (Bassetlaw District Council)Moreton, Bobbingworth and the Lavers Neighbourhood Plan (Epping Forest District Council)Sedgefield Neighbourhood Plan (Durham County Council)Sedgeford Neighbourhood Plan (Kings Lynn & West Norfolk District Council)Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan (Sidmo…

Attitudes to house building

Neighbourhood Plans must provide a shared vision for their area, with consultation with the local community forming a key part of their preparation.

Critically, Neighbourhood Plans must pass a referendum in which local people are invited to vote on whether the plan should be used in decision-making. Therefore a plan's success is dependent on community support.

Many Neighbourhood Plans take on the challenge of planning for housing development, an issue which can prove divisive for some communities.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has recently reported its latest research on public attitudes to house building. The report presents findings from the 2018 British Social Attitudes Survey. This annual survey provides interesting insight into changing views over time.
Support and opposition for house building  The 2018 survey found that the majority of people support house building. 57% of people support more homes being built in the local area. However almost…

Essential reading for Neighbourhood Planners

Through my site neighbourhood-planning.co.uk I have attempted to explain the neighbourhood planning process, and provide regular blog posts on the latest issues affecting neighbourhood planning. But where can you go to find out more?

In this article I attempt to summarise where you should go for the most useful information and guidance, and where you can find funding and support for writing a Neighbourhood Plan.
Locality Toolkits and Guidance Locality administer the government's current programme of support for neighbourhood planning groups, and Locality's neighbourhoodplanning.org site should be your first port of call when writing a Neighbourhood Plan.
Locality has produced an excellent series of 'toolkits & guidance' on a range of issues to assist the preparation of neighbourhood plans. It is difficult to understate how valuable Locality's guides are for budding neighbourhood planners. Be sure you don't miss: The Neighbourhood Plans Roadmap 2018 by Dave …

Neighbourhood Planning and Community Health and Wellbeing - Briefing Note for NALC

I have teamed up with the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) to author a briefing note on Neighbourhood Planning and Community Health and Wellbeing.

The briefing note illustrates how Neighbourhood Plans can actively contribute to improving health and wellbeing in their communities, and draws on recent examples of neighbourhood plan policies. Neighbourhood Plans can tackle issues of health and wellbeing in lots of different ways, as explained in the briefing note, and is something I will be making the case for in future blog posts.

A pdf version of the briefing note is available to view and download below. Further advice on neighbourhood planning is also available from NALC's website.




Just how big is an infill site? Appeal decision: Chinnor, Oxfordshire

An appeal decision initially caught my eye due to its surprising interpretation of 'infill development' -  but also raises some concerning issues around how Neighbourhood Plan policies are applied during the decision-making process.

The appeal relates to an application for the construction of up to 140 dwellings, new public open space, associated landscaping and site infrastructure on a 3.9ha site at Chinnor, Oxfordshire. The application was made by Persimmon Homes and initially refused by South Oxfordshire District Council. The appeal was allowed, meaning the Planning Inspector went against the district council's decision grant planning permission for the scheme. Details of the appeal can be found using the following reference APP/Q3115/W/17/3187058. Neighbourhood Plan & Development Plan Chinnor is a large village in Oxfordshire. The Chinnor Neighbourhood Plan (CNP) was 'made' in October 2017. When the appeal commenced, the Neighbourhood Plan was less than one…

Neighbourhood Plan Review: Plans Made in August 2019

No two Neighbourhood Plans are alike, although many have similar characteristics and address common themes. This post provides a short summary of those Neighbourhood Plans which successfully passed referendum in August 2019, highlighting the elements which make each plan locally specific and unique.

August plans contained lessons in semantics; aspirations for "harmonious living" for those with specialist housing needs; support for rural enterprise through homes on the farm;  biodiversity off-setting; and protection of essential local facilities - notably, the public toilet. August saw a plan which previously fell foul of the regulations finally find success; and several 'concise' plans pass referendum - the shortest containing just three policies.

Navigate this post using the links...
Broadwas and Cotheridge Neighbourhood PlanBroadwindsor Neighbourhood PlanChirton and Conock Neighbourhood PlanCrowan Parish Neighbourhood PlanHailey Neighbourhood PlanHaughley Neighbourh…

Secretary of State overturns Planning Inspector's decision due to density concerns

Normally, planning appeals are determined by Planning Inspectors, but in some circumstances appeals may be 'recovered' for determination by the Secretary of State (SoS). The current SoS for Housing, Communities and Local Government is James Brokenshire MP.

In December 2018, the SoS issued a decision on a recovered appeal at Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire. The proposal for residential development of up to 203 dwellings, a doctor’s surgery, open space and landscaping, together with pedestrian, cycle and vehicular access, was initially refused by Milton Keynes Council, and following appeal, granted permission by a Planning Inspector. However, the SoS recovered the appeal and overturned the Inspector's decision, dismissing the appeal.

Details of the case are available on the Planning Inspectorate's website, using case reference: APP/Y0435/W/17/3169314.
Appeal site & Neighbourhood Plan The appeal site is a 15.2 hectare, greenfield site, located outside the development bo…