As spatial planners we are very aware of the locational aspect of sustainability but in a recent case in rural Warwickshire the social aspect of sustainability was emphasised.
In allowing a new house on the edge of a village (DCS Number 400-009-976), an inspector emphasised the social benefits that it would bring. The inspector acknowledged that the village had a limited bus service and, given its location within the countryside, it was inevitable that residents would revert to using the car. However, she considered the social benefits associated with the development to outweigh any potential harm caused by the additional traffic movements associated with one house. It would also help meet the council’s requirement for additional housing.
The inspector noted that the village had an active social life and a visiting library, and shared some of its services with a larger village about three kilometres away. The larger village had a shop, a new village hall and a primary school. Whilst the proposal would be for one house, she considered that any amount of development within the village would help support the social activities in the village and therefore help maintain the vitality of the local community. Furthermore, being only three kilometres away, the development would bring similar benefits to the larger village and therefore help support the social wellbeing of the area. In this respect the inspector referred to a section of Paragraph 55 of the NPPF which promotes development in rural areas, provided it will ‘enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities, for example where there are groups of smaller settlements, development in one village may support services in a village nearby.’
The following DCP chapter is relevant: 4.111