The development proposal in this case had a lot going for it. The local planning authority, Harrogate BC, failed to determine the application. The most important development plan policies were out of date, such that the “tilted balance” was engaged. The highway authority did not object, nor did the neighbouring highway authority. The proposal would contribute to the supply and choice of market and affordable housing. Harrogate BC did not pursue an objection based on impact on a SAC/SSSI. The loss of some best and most versatile agricultural land equated to an economic loss of only £896 a year. The appeal site was not a valued landscape. Harrogate BC did not have a prematurity objection. The appeal site is only a few metres away from a very large housing development under construction. There would be no significant effect on views from the adjacent main road. The proposal included a large proportion of green infrastructure, generating environmental and biodiversity benefits.
The central plank of the Council’s case at the inquiry, seeking dismissal of the appeal, was its reliance upon aspects of the emerging Local Plan, the report into which was not published until after the inquiry.
In his decision of 13 February 2020, the Secretary of State’s appointed Inspector endorses the Council’s case and finds that the emerging Local Plan policies attract significant weight. The conflict with those policies leads him to a further endorsement of the Council’s case, namely that the adverse impacts of granting permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits. The result is dismissal of the appeal.
Stephen Whale of Landmark Chambers successfully represented Harrogate BC at the inquiry.
For a copy of the decision, click here.