Building in the Countryside – When is a rural site not that ‘rural’?

Over the last few months, planning consultants like Northern Planners have been watching appeal decisions to see the way in which Planning Inspectors have been treating  proposals for new houses in the open countryside following two legal judgements that considered the term ‘isolated’ in national policy.

These cases are Dartford Borough Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (14 March 2017) and Braintree District Council and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greyread Limited and Granville Developments Limited (24 October 2017).

They have led a number of agents to argue that some rural sites are not physically remote from existing development and therefore worthy of consideration for new housing, regardless of their sustainability in terms of services/facilities and their compliance with exceptional categories of acceptability within policy.

Some cases have had success on appeal, others less so.

Now, it has been announced that the Braintree judgement is to be reviewed in the Court of Appeal. The appeal hearing is likely to be towards the end of 2018.

Until then, the door is open for applicants to promote the locational advantages of sites/schemes that aren’t ideally situated to receive a normal ‘thumbs up’ from Councils.

Northern Planners are well-placed to help make the point in such cases.


Harrogate Relief Road

Many local residents in Harrogate and Knaresborough have been shocked recently by the Borough Council’s new Local Plan proposals and the County Council’s emerging options for a Harrogate Relief Road.

Borough Councillors have signed off a final round of consultation on the Plan in the New Year prior to them sending it off to the Planning Inspectorate for formal Examination. The consultation document will include the Council’s preferred option for the broad location of a proposed new settlement – which is to be focussed on Green Hammerton but with additional flexibility to allow adjoining land to be considered, known as Maltkiln.

We understand from the local press that the promoters of one of the alternative locations, at Flaxby, may be challenging the Council’s preferred option as the Plan moves into the next phase of the process.

Linked into new growth proposals is the County Council’s draft plans to construct a new Relief Road around the eastern side of Harrogate, which also have the potential to impact on the environment around Knaresborough. Public consultation began on 21st December and will continue for a 12 week period. The aim of the exercise will be to gather views on two options known as Package B and Package E. We gather that Package E will include a generic ‘inner’ option for the Relief Road. Study work so far has identified/tested two ‘inner’ options, both to the east of Harrogate: Inner South and Inner North. These are shown in green and blue on the image below:

Source/Copyright: North Yorkshire County Council

These options pass through Nidd Gorge which has angered many local people, despite the County Council’s promise that the environmental impact of such a routing will be assessed.