EXCLUSIVE: Planning Inspector Griffiths refuses appeal for 10 houses in greenbelt near Storeton Woods
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In an update to a story about an informal planning appeal hearing held at Wallasey Town Hall last week the Planning Inspectorate have made their decision to refuse the appeal. The site is currently a paddock with stables next to Storeton Woods.
The original grounds Wirral Council planning officers had given for refusing the application were inappropriate development in the greenbelt, highway safety and the effect it would have on trees covered by a tree protection order. The main issue for Planning Inspector Griffiths to consider was whether ten houses on this site (planning permission has already been given for conversion of the existing stables to three houses) was inappropriate development in the greenbelt.
On highway safety grounds, Inspector Griffiths disagreed with Wirral Council officers and local residents, as he regarded the extra traffic would not be significant. The Appellant had proposed moving a sandstone wall with an adjacent property to provide an access road to the ten houses. However in the Planning Inspector’s decision he stated this “would complicate and disrupt the continuous linear nature of the sandstone wall in an injurious fashion”.
The trees on the appeal site, which were protected by a tree protection order, were also referred to in the decision as “attractive features that contribute positively to the area.” He also felt it wasn’t clear that the moving of the sandstone wall for the access road could be done without resulting in the loss of trees.
Erecting ten houses (with gardens) on the site with an access road would affect the openness of the greenbelt permanently. In conclusion the Planning Inspector stated that “the proposal would have a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the area” and would “conflict with UDP Policy HS4 that requires proposals for new housing development not to result in detrimental change in the character of an area, amongst other things, and UDP Policy GR7 that, in simple terms, seeks to protect trees.”
There was a long discussion at the end of the hearing about housing land supply. The Council’s position was that it had a six-year supply of deliverable housing sites (or five years with a 20% buffer). The Appellant, using figures from the previous Regional Spatial Strategy instead said that the Council could only demonstrate a four-year supply or three and a half-year supply with a 20% buffer. The inspector commented on the housing land supply in his decision “Against that overall background, and on the basis of the evidence before me, it is difficult to reach a definitive view as to whether or not the Council can demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.”
In conclusion the Planning Inspector stated that even if Wirral Council couldn’t prove a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites, that the provision of ten houses on the site along with highway improvements weren’t enough to outweigh the harm caused by inappropriate development in the greenbelt. Therefore the appeal didn’t constitute the “very special circumstances” for development in the greenbelt and was refused.
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