Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Taking arms against a sea of troubles…

As most villagers will know by now, Gladman Developments’ (13/02515/OUT) planning appeal, re their proposed desecration of Oxhill Road, will be heard at a local inquiry: which will be held on 16 September 2014 starting at 10:00. This will take place at Ettington Community Centre; and is expected to last up to five days.

In the light of SHAPE’s recent victory (in battle, if not in war) – partly because of the need for a five-year housing supply finally being met by Stratford-on-Avon District Council… –

At April 2014 [albeit announced on 12 August 2014] there is considered to be a supply of 3,951 new homes in the pipeline. This is the equivalent of 5.4 years’ supply.

…does this render the inquiry moot – even without the Core Strategy (which will be submitted for consideration in September or October: which will, of course, be too late for us…) in place?

Or do we still need to rely on the NPPF – especially with regards to the heritage aspects of the Parish Council and Tysoe Residents (Neighbourhood Planning) Group’s original objections?

Section 12 of the NPPF – at paragraph 128 – states that…

In determining applications, local planning authorities should require an applicant to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting. The level of detail should be proportionate to the assets’ importance and no more than is sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on their significance.

…although it has never been clear – to me, anyway – who decides on “the assets’ importance” or “their significance”: despite, of course, English Heritage – as the relevant statutory body – having made their views very clear with regards to the ridge-and-furrow adjacent to Tysoe Manor.

However, a landmark ruling in February – now widely considered an NPPF test case – may have helped clarify this: when deputy high court judge Robin Purchas QC ruled against an application for an 86.5 metre/284 feet-high wind-turbine at Pond Farm, Bodham, Norfolk. He stated that the consideration of “setting” needed to be set at a high threshold, due to the desirability of preserving the context of local listed buildings – including “the Grade I listed Barningham Hall, which is of Jacobean origin; Baconsthorpe Castle, also Grade I; and a number of Grade II* churches” – in the local landscape; and this had not been correctly assessed by the inquiry inspector who had given the go-ahead for the turbine. According to The Guardian

Judge Purchas ruled the inspector did not comply with section 66(1) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act, which required him to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the settings of listed buildings.

With such decisions being made, it does seem that legislation – and I am a strong believer in the NPPF, when applied correctly… – may yet come to our aid: although I am still unsure how we ensure this; or if it is even practicable. FORSE “is working with a planning expert and a specialist Barrister” in contesting the possible (probable?) GLH development of thousands of houses. But all this demonstrates to me is that to fight on an equal footing with the developers – and a government that appears to have vested interests in the harrowing of the shires (despite our MP’s lone protestations) – requires digging deep for resources (both time and money) that are probably beyond Tysoe’s means.

Even with the district council’s supposed/stated support, this still feels like a version of David and Goliath where the little guy has no rocks for his sling. Outrageous fortune, indeed.

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