Bid to build 26 homes in Highclere fails after planning appeal dismissed by Planning Inspectorate

Bid to build 26 homes in Highclere fails after planning appeal dismissed by Planning Inspectorate

A bid to build 26 houses in Highclere fell through after a building complaint was dismissed.

Development company JPP Land appealed Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s decision to reject the homes in October 2021.

The council opposed the development on the grounds that it would have a significant impact on the surrounding North Wessex Downs Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The plan for 26 apartments was rejected on appeal

This opinion was also shared by the Planning Inspectorate, which decided on Monday 23 January to dismiss the complaint.

A section of the appeal decision states: “The appeal rule would suburbanize an important green void that makes a significant contribution to the rural environment of Highclere, thereby irreversibly damaging the intrinsic rural character and appearance of the area.

“Moreover, it would not preserve and enhance the landscape and scenic beauty of the North Wessex Downs AONB.”

Councilor John Izett (Con, Evingar) said: “I am delighted and relieved that the Inspector has understood the importance of defending the Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty at Highclere.

“It is an important planning decision because the planning system has not always given the status of the AONB the importance it needs for planning.

John Izett
John Izett

“I think that will set an important precedent for the future, I hope.”

Mr Izett also acknowledged that the decision would have “complicated” Highclere’s approach to its neighborhood plan. Highclere Parish Council is currently in the process of preparing the document that would set future planning policy for the area.

Fellow District Councilor Graham Falconer (Con, Evingar) was also pleased that the appeal was dismissed.

He said: “It was just reassuring that the inspector upheld the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

“It states that there should be no developments in the AONB, certainly no major developments, except in exceptional circumstances. Apparently there was none.”

Graham Falconer
Graham Falconer

Mr Falconer explained that Basingstoke and Deane’s five-year land reserve, which dictates that around 900 homes should be built in the community each year, was used by housing developers “as carte blanche to do whatever they want”.

He explained: “The issue of land supply over five years does not apply to the AONB. We finally got that statement backed up by an auditor, which means we’re getting a little bit more consistency going forward.”

Like Mr Izett, Mr Falconer hoped that this decision could have a positive impact on future planning decisions in rural North Hampshire.

He added: “We’ve had so many decisions, including those made by the Council’s Development Oversight Committee, that have been inconsistent. Hopefully this gives a proper guideline.”

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