Bell Cornwell’s Exeter office has obtained planning permission at appeal for a small residential development in West Hill: one of East Devon’s larger villages. The conclusion of the appeal is of particular note as the Inspector agreed with Bell Cornwell’s arguments that scheme, despite being in open countryside and outside the proposed settlement boundary of the village of West Hill, should be considered to be acceptable by virtue of its sustainable location and its physical relationship with existing houses. In allowing the appeal, the Inspector took a pragmatic stance, consistent with planning policy and balancing different issues but at odds with the approach typically taken by the planning authority.
East Devon District Council refused to grant planning permission, concluding that the proposal would be harmful to the landscape character of the area, due to the site being outside of the (emerging) built-up area boundary and a small breach in the hedgebank required to form the access. The planning application was also refused on highways safety grounds.
Bell Cornwell co-ordinated the submission of a written representations appeal and produced a detailed Statement of Case, which demonstrated to the planning inspector that the site relates more readily in visual and physical terms to existing residential development than the wider countryside and is well related to the built-up part of the village. Bell Cornwell was successful in convincing the inspector that the proposal would not result in the outward expansion of the village or unregulated development in the countryside and would conserve landscape character. The inspector agreed that the access arrangements would not be dissimilar in appearance to a number of other residential accesses in the village and would not result in a significantly more urbanised appearance or harmfully erode the semi-rural character of the road. The planning inspector was also satisfied that the means of access was safe – Bell Cornwell commissioned local transport consultants on behalf of the client to provide evidence that the access design was justified by the characteristics of the road and speed survey results.
Overall, the planning inspector concluded that the proposal would provide a suitable site for dwellings with a safe and suitable access, in accordance with the Development Plan. The appeal was allowed.
For more information on this project, please contact Principal Planner, Amy Roberts.