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Inspector rejects Kent green belt affordable homes

A planning inspector has dismissed affordable housing provider Cascade Partnership's appeal against the refusal by Gravesham Borough Council' to allow its plans to build 14 affordable homes on green belt land in Kent.30 Nov 2012

The inspector said in his report (6-page / 130KB PDF) that the scheme would not constitute limited infilling in a village or limited affordable housing for local community needs, and so it would be inappropriate development in the Green Belt as defined in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The inspector noted that, although the Council's Local Plan did not contain a policy to define the acceptable nature and extent of limited affordable housing for the community for the purpose of applying the NPPF exception, this did not mean the exception did not apply. "A reasonable interpretation of the national guidance in the Framework has to be taken," he said. The inspector said he considered 14 properties to exceed what would be deemed "limited" housing in a village of such size.

The inspector also said the scheme would "detract from the sense of openness currently experienced" on the proposed development land, which would conflict with the "fundamental aim" of green belt policy of keeping green belt land permanently open.  

Although the inspector accepted the Council's need for affordable housing, he said that the Council had not demonstrated that the need was so great as to justify the proposed scale of development when considering the harm to the green belt, the conservation area and the countryside. He said that there existed no "very special circumstances" which could justify the development and that the Council had not shown that the substantial harm to the conservation area was necessary to achieve substantial public benefits.