Just six days after the hearing into a double appeal brought against Guildford Borough Council, the Planning Inspectorate published its decision to allow 39 dwellings on a previously developed site in the Green Belt and listed building consent.
The site, located off Old Portsmouth Road (A3100), also lies within the Surrey Hills AONB and in part, within the St Catherine’s Conservation Area.
The developers, CALA Homes (South Home Counties), instructed Jane Terry and Sarah Isherwood, both of Vail Williams, to bring forward a revised application and appeal against the Council’s refusal and the subsequent appeal against non-determination.
The Inspector agreed with the Council that the proposal was inappropriate development and that by definition this was harmful to the Green Belt. However, by working with a strong team including Graeme Keen QC, Landmark Chambers; Liz Simes at Fabrik, landscape consultant; Colin Richards, urban designer; and Jen Coates, Heritage Collective, Vail Williams was able to make the case for Very Special Circumstances on behalf of CALA.
In weighing up the Green Belt balance, the Inspector concluded that there were considerations of substantial weight and importance in furthering the Government’s aim of boosting significantly the supply of housing, as stated in the National Planning Policy Framework.
The provision of affordable housing to address an ‘acute need’ in Guildford also weighed heavily in favour of the appeal proposals. In the light of these considerations, the very limited harm to the landscape character of the area, together with restoration of the listed building (substantial weight) and the use of brownfield land as opposed to greenfield land in the Green Belt (significant weight), the Inspector found that the benefits clearly outweighed the harm such that Very Special Circumstances were shown to exist in order to permit inappropriate development in the Green Belt.
Daniel Webber, Land Director for CALA Homes (South Home Counties) Ltd, said: “This is a site that CALA Homes has been championing for the last four years, so it’s fantastic to finally get planning permission approved. We will now be bringing the development forward and expect to start work on site in early 2019.”
Jane Terry, Partner in Vail Williams’ Property Planning Consultancy team, added: “We’re delighted that the development has been approved and can now progress to bring much-needed new housing to Guildford. It was a complex process but by working closely with our client, and with the wider team of consultants, we were able to achieve a fantastic outcome for CALA Homes.”
When complete, it will feature 39 high quality homes in a mix of one to four-bedroom properties. 14 of the homes have been allocated as affordable housing, in both rental and shared equity tenures. The character of the development will be enhanced with landscaping and includes two areas of open space for residents to enjoy.
As part of the work on site, CALA will be refurbishing and bringing back into use Treetops Farmhouse, a listed building which has been in a state of disrepair for many years.
The land is owned and currently in use by Treetops Kennels and Loxhill Nursery who will be relocating.
Images credit: Richards Urban Design Ltd.