'We will not allow flawed proposals to harm our communities' - council on dismissed homes appeal
PUBLISHED: 16:30 05 September 2019
A village community is "delighted" a Government representative has dismissed a developer's appeal for new homes after agreeing they would "harm" the appearance of the area.
Company Hartog Hutton had applied for 15 homes in land west of Willows Nursing Home, Bury Road, Lawshall, but the plans were refused by members of Babergh District Council's planning committee who felt the scheme would lead to the loss of a "valued settlement gap".
READ MORE: Villagers say developer has 'turned a blind eye' to their objections to housing scheme
The firm then appealed the decision, hoping a Government planning inspector would over-rule it, but the appeal has been dismissed.
Lawshall and the surrounding hamlets are in a rural area and the gaps between both small and larger clusters of existing development form an "important part of the character of the wider landscape," said Inspector Sarah Dyer.
The site also fronts a 23-acre community woodland and is next to the Green Light Trust charity's award-winning headquarters building.
Ms Dryer, who visited the site on August 6 this year, referred heavily to Lawshall's adopted Neighbourhood Plan (NP) - a piece of community and district council work over 2.5 years.
Trevor Elmer, vice chairman of Lawshall Parish Council, said: "As a parish council we are pleased as we have spent a lot of time and effort and money creating our village plan and this just goes to prove it works. Our plan is being used as a model for various other villages."
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Parish councillor David Page, who helped produce the plan, said they were "delighted", adding the NP is not anti-development, but is about giving local people a say.
A spokesperson for Babergh District Council said: "We welcome the Planning Inspectorate's decision to dismiss this appeal: we have always maintained that our committee made the right choice, and that these proposals would result in unacceptable harm to Lawshall.
"We will continue to work with developers bringing sustainable growth to areas that need it, but will not allow flawed proposals to harm our communities."
Hartog Hutton's representative Phil Cobbold was unavailable for comment, but in the case for appeal disputed that the proposed development would have a significant adverse impact on the character or appearance of the area.
He had said the proposed homes would be screened in part by the existing roadside trees and hedges and any minor impact that did arise would be outweighed by the economic, social and environmental benefits of the scheme.
But Ms Dryer said in her decision: "Given the importance which I have attached to the site as a gap between clusters of buildings within the setting of Lawshall, the development would amount to harm.
"The appellants argue that as a consequence of the screening of the site it does not form an important gap and its development would not be harmful to the local character of Lawshall.
"However, there is limited evidence before me to demonstrate that as a result of the existing planting, with or without any further planting, the new houses would not form part of the street scene. To the contrary, the indicative street elevation shows that the houses would be visible from Bury Road and would significantly alter the character and appearance of this part of Lawshall."