Learning from experience

In concluding that a 30-dwelling redevelopment of a stable building, arena and hardstanding outside a picturesque village in Hampshire would not harm the setting of the countryside (DCS Number 400-019-585) an inspector referred to a fellow inspector’s definition of ‘setting’.

The council was concerned about the impact of the scheme on “the character and setting of the countryside by virtue of the proposed siting, scale and prominence in the landscape and specifically the number and scale and corresponding hard landscaping that would be necessary thereby giving the proposed development an unacceptable urban character.”

In (DCS Number 200-005-501) the inspector had defined setting as follows:

“In a conventional interpretation of the word this would mean the surroundings or environment of something or object. By my interpretation, particularly in a planning context, the term should express some element of experiential understanding or…the surroundings in which a settlement, or part of a settlement, is experienced…”

In the current appeal the inspector criticised the council for not explaining the term, noting that “the focus is on the alleged overdevelopment of the site manifested by dwellings being too large for the plots, poor ratio between buildings and landscaping with hard surfacing dominating and reinforcing a feeling of being too urban, particularly given the transitional nature of the site.” By contrast, he noted that the appellant provided convincing evidence based on an analysis of plot ratios and edge of village analysis that demonstrated that the scheme would not be out of kilter with other recent housing developments situated at similar edge of countryside locations in the village. In addition, the inspector analysed the points from which the the setting of the relevant part of the village was experienced and did not accept that from these views the site performed as a transition from village to open countryside.

Hopefully, next time the council will have learned from experience.

More on “green settings” can be found at section 7.1333 of DCP Online.