FARLEIGH FIELDS – APPEAL DECISION – 28 MARCH 2018
The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government decision letter was issued on 28 March 2018.
The first section is the Secretary of State’s (S of S) assessment and overview of the Planning Appeal’s Inspector’s decision letter, which follows as the second and main section.
Secretary of State’s decision:
The Inspector recommended the Appeal be dismissed. The S of S agreed after also taking into account various issues raised between the Appeal in March 2017 and the decision in March 2018. These ‘various issues’ were the main reasons for the long delay in issuing the decision letter. The S of S main considerations were:
1. His final calculation of North Somerset Council’s (NSC) housing land supply is 3.9 years. This is well below NSC’s estimate, (and required target), of 5 years but in excess of the Westminster Ministerial Statement (WMS) of Dec.17th. The WMS minimum figure was for 3 years supply for Councils with valid Neighbourhood Plans.
2. He was satisfied that Backwell’s Neighbourhood Plan (BNP) did in effect “allocate” development sites – although without explicitly saying so. Therefore the requirements of the WMS are met.
3. The NSC Core Strategy CS32, (relating to “Service Villages” of which Backwell is one), is valid. The Farleigh Fields application did not comply with this criteria.
4. The proposed development would significantly affect the setting and character of Backwell and so is in conflict with the BNP. HOWEVER the application proposed 65 affordable homes – this carries “significant weight” in favour of the Appeal.
The Appeal Inspector:
The inspector largely went over the same ground but in far greater detail.
He noted that the Appeal scheme would have a very limited effect on the character and appearance BEYOND the immediate area, but would cause significant harm to the character and setting of Backwell and accorded significant weight to this point.
The Appeal Inspector went to great lengths to spell out the cases presented by the main parties AND ALSO all the individual presenters at the Inquiry. He recorded:
– written replies to the Appeal – 334, of which two were in favour.
– written replies to the Application – 929, of which only 6 were in favour, (this showed a phenomenal level of local opposition!).
The Appellant (Charles Church) does have a right of Appeal, but only on a point of law. They have 6 weeks in which to do this.
Backwell Parish Council are very pleased with the decision, but we have to acknowledge the amount of work that Chris Perry, Bob Taylor and the Backwell Parish Council Steering Group did over the 5 years that it took to get the N Plan adopted, also the community for their engagement and support at the Referendum stage.
We also offer our thanks to our residents and BRA who not only supported us at the Appeal stage, but with much needed finance.
Backwell Parish Council can now move forward towards the defence of the JSP and the 700 homes with support from BRA and BR.
Cllr R Taylor
10 April 2018