Below is a summation by our local expert of the Appeal Decision for the Kennels 30 “Rabbit Hutch” houses development application that had already been soundly dismissed by the local council. Most people with a grain of common sense having read the reasons for the council’s decision would have realised that the application didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of winning if it went to final appeal with the government. However as the say, “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”.
Appeal Decision – The Ockendon Kennels North Ockendon RM14 3PT
Decision on Appeal: DISMISSED (i.e. APPLICATION FAILED).
Factors the Planning Inspectorate considered whether it was:-
- Inappropriate development in the Green Belt;
- Acceptable form of development having regard to its flood zone location;
- Whether the development makes adequate provision for local infrastructure and affordable housing;
- Effect on the character and appearance of the area; and
- If the development amounted to inappropriate development whether this amounted to very special circumstances to justify it.
Inappropriate development of the Green Belt
- The development of the Green Belt is governed by the National Planning Policy Framework it is material to any development. There have to be very special circumstances for any development to be approved.
- There are limited exceptions allowing development. Linda Jeffries considered that the redevelopment of what was a brown field site would not have a great impact on the openness of the Green Belt land. Whilst the Inspector agreed the Kennels could be considered brown field land Linda Jeffries still needed to demonstrate that this development would not have a great impact on openness and the purpose of the Green Belt.
- The volumes of the existing properties were far smaller than the proposed buildings. The footprint of the buildings would significantly exceed that of the existing development.
- The Inspectorate indicated that although there was some screening due to the footprint and volume 30 dwellings would still have significantly greater bulk, mass and height compared to the existing buildings on the site. The new buildings would need parking spaces, fencing which would further erode the openness of the Green Belt which was not acceptable.
- The Inspector indicated that the development of these new buildings is isolated from built up areas so the development would encroach into the countryside. The Inspector indicated that this is the reason the Green Belt was development to stop such inappropriate development.
Flood Zone Location
- The area has a low flood zone area.
- The new development has not consulted with the Environment Agency in connection with any potential risk with regard to flooding so the Inspector could not reach a fully informed conclusion.
Local Infrastructure and affordable housing
- Where there are more than 10 new properties built 50% must be affordable housing to reflect Core Planning Principles.
- Linda Jeffries indicates that the proposal would bring “much needed low cost housing to the area”. This is directly contradicted by the fact that there is no s.106 agreement in place – no indication that she has any mechanism to ensure that the legal requirement concerning affordable housing is in place.
Effect on character and appearance of the area
- Linda Jeffries said that for the existing properties in the area there was no rigid style and setting the new buildings she proposes back from the highway would not impact on the area.
- The Inspectorate recognised that the dilapidated buildings would be removed but that the new development would mean that the proposed scheme would detract from the character of the area and would result in harm to the character and appearance of the area.
- The Ockendon Wildlife Trust was recognised as having no suitable and realistic mechanism.
- Linda Jeffries argued that the dwellings would exceed the standard building regulations and energy performances. There was no technical evidence to support this.
- The housing development was considered by the Inspector to be inappropriate development applying the stringent national planning policy tests which the Inspector was required to apply.
- The Inspector considered that any factors that might be in favour of the development were outweighed by the very substantial harm by reason of inappropriateness of the development and there were no special circumstances justifying development of the Green Belt.demonstrate that this development would not have a great impact on openness and the purpose of the Green Belt.circumstances justifying development of the Green Belt.