The Planning Inspectorate has allowed an appeal by developers against a refusal to grant outline planning permission for houses to be built in Lynsted. They have granted permission for the erection of up to 10 residential dwellings at land east of Lynsted Lane, which had been turned down by Swale Council's planning committee.
The inspector considered the main issues to be whether the development would be suitably located in terms of its accessibility to services and facilities, and whether the proposal would comply with the Council's settlement strategy.
They acknowledged that the site comprises part of a field of open grassland which sits outside the settlement boundary of Teynham. However, because Teynham is close by and classified as a Rural Local Service Centre it is considered to provide an “array of facilities” - notwithstanding the lack of “some” health facilities and a secondary school.
The inspector noted the existence of bus stops located a short distance from the appeal site and considered that “reasonably frequent services towards larger nearby settlements” were provided. They also commented on the existence of Teynham train station which was found to be accessible via an “attractive route of footpaths through residential areas” and also an attractive route for cyclists (despite having to navigate the A2 before reaching Station Road).
Together, these public transport connections were considered to provide an “attractive alternative to private car use” thereby complying with the objectives of the NPPF relating to sustainable transport and availability of a choice of transport modes.
Regarding highways issues, the inspector noted that the evidence provided by third parties (which included Lynsted with Kingsdown Parish Council) show existing conditions on the northern part of Lynsted Lane to be “chaotic and harmful to highway and pedestrian safety”. Any increased vehicle movements here, arising from the proposal, would be likely to worsen these existing conditions and would entail the loss of existing on-street parking opportunities used by residents and users of London Road shops. However they were satisfied that “an appropriate solution exists for the works to the highway” and that the proposal “could” accommodate parking spaces to help compensate for those lost.
Whilst there would be additional traffic at the junction with London Road, the inspector considered that the impact would be “negligible”. They appreciated local concerns that the proposal may form part of an intended wider development including land to the South. However, regardless of intentions, their assessment had to relate to the appeal scheme under consideration.
The inspector acknowledged that the proposal conflicted with policies ST3 and ST1 of the Swale Local Plan and that it would conflict with the Council's settlement strategy – these being the reasons why Swale’s planning committee refused permission in the first place.
Policy ST3 states that in the open countryside, outside the built-up area boundaries, development will not be permitted unless supported by national planning policy and able to demonstrate that it would contribute to protection and, where appropriate, enhancing the intrinsic value, landscape setting, tranquilly and beauty of the countryside. Policy ST1 requires development proposals to accord to the Local Plan settlement strategy.
However, the inspector ruled that because Swale does not have a five-year land supply for housing, paragraph 11D of the NPPF prevails. This stipulates that planning permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the NPPF as a whole.
Whilst noting significant local opposition to the scheme, the inspector did not consider that the quantum of objections in itself amounts to a material consideration of sufficient weight to dismiss the appeal.
So, although the inspector found that the proposal would conflict with the Swale development plan, they ruled that national policy overrides it.
Permission was granted subject to conditions (amended by the inspector) already suggested by planning officers. These conditions include the requirement for approved drawings in relation to access; details of surface water drainage and consumption; details of cycle parking and additional parking spaces for existing residents; plus the approval of highways works.
A construction method statement is also required which includes, amongst other things, “methods for dealing with complaints from local residents”.
The Planning Inspectorate's full Appeal Decision can be read HERE