Published: Thursday, 22nd October 2015
Communities Secretary Greg Clark has allowed on appeal two major housing schemes, one in Kent, the other in Cheshire, which will provide a total of 715 new homes.
In the case of the Kent development the proposals mean the loss of an area of ancient woodland. In both cases the inspectors who held the recovered appeals recommended the appeals should be successful.
Croupade Strategic Ltd, the developer involved in Kent, had proposed a 500-home scheme, 30 per cent of which would be affordable, on a site at Maidstone which straddled the boundary between Maidstone Borough Council and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council. Both councils had rejected the proposals. No buildings were envisaged on the latter’s patch although the Secretary of State acknowledged that could change as the proposals were in outline.
Clark’s decision letter agreed that the majority of the area was correctly designated as ancient woodland and that the site had medium to high ecological value at local level.
However he also agreed with the inspector that the anticipated absolute loss of 0.03 hectares of ancient woodland would be acceptable given the significant social and economic benefits of the housing in an area where the local plan was out of date and the harm to biodiversity would not be “significant”.
In the case of the other appeal, a Gladman Developments proposal for up to 215 new homes on land at Winsford refused by Cheshire West and Chester Council, Clark acknowledged that the project breached the requirement that it should meet the development brief for the area.
But Clark’s decision letter insisted: “the degree of harm caused by allowing this appeal in advance of the development brief and in conflict with policies in both the local plan and the Winsford Neighbourhood Plan would be very limited.”