Judge backs inspector over definition of ‘isolated’

Original article authored by planningresource.co.uk

A High Court judge had agreed with a planning inspector that a council used a too restrictive definition of the word ‘isolated’ when refusing permission for two new homes in the Essex countryside.

Developer Granville Developments had been refused planning permission to build the new homes off Lower Green Road, Blackmore End, Wethersfield, but successfully appealed to a planning inspector who granted consent in February this year.

He found that, even on the most favourable interpretation, the area’s deliverable sites for new housing fell well below the five-year supply required by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The development would not cause material harm to the character and appearance of the area and, although it was not within an established settlement boundary, there were a number of houses nearby and the bungalows could not be viewed as isolated dwellings in the countryside.

In challenging the inspector’s decision, Braintree District Council argued that he had wrongly interpreted the NPPF. Given the paucity of services and amenities in the area, residents of the bungalows would be required to rely heavily on their cars and the new dwellings would clearly be isolated, it argued.

Mrs Justice Lang noted that the word isolated is not defined in the NPPF. However, in dismissing the council’s appeal, she found that the council’s interpretation was too restrictive.

She noted that there were existing dwellings to the north and south of the development site – which was originally home to agricultural buildings that had been demolished. There was also a home to the west, on the other side of a road.

In his decision, the inspector had also justifiably focused on the economic benefits of the scheme in providing work for local builders and the likelihood that two new households would give their custom to local businesses.

Braintree District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Ors. Case Number: CO/1207/2017