Aylesbury Vale Area

VALP Proposed Submission

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VALP Proposed Submission

D-HAD007 Land north of Rosemary Lane

Representation ID: 620

Received: 12/12/2017

Respondent: Rosemary Lane Action Group

Agent: Rosemary Lane Action Group

Legally compliant? Yes

Sound? No

Duty to co-operate? Yes

Representation Summary:

The proposed allocation is unsound because it is not adequately justified, not effective and is inconsistent with national policy. It is inconsistent with national policy relating to heritage and agricultural land, has adverse landscape impact and is unsustainable. There are also deliverability issues relating to water supply infrastructure and flooding.
The site was thoroughly assessed as part of the Neighbourhood Plan site selection exercise and was found to be unsuitable for development, poorly related to community facilities and amenities and would have significant impact on the setting of the conservation area. This judgement remains sound.

Full text:

Proposed site allocation HAD007 is an unsound development allocation because it is not adequately justified, not effective and is inconsistent with national policy. It is therefore inconsistent with the policy guidance in paragraph 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Conflict with the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan

A site selection exercise was undertaken as part of the preparation of the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan. This assessed the suitability of residential development on 21 specified sites. The exercise concluded that site HNP004 (a site which is slightly larger than VALP site
HAD007) was unsuitable and was ranked only 11th. Although the housing chapter in the Neighbourhood Plan was quashed after a legal challenge because, amongst other issues, the scoring of one of the sites was incorrectly transposed betweenn documents, the site selection exercise undertaken by consultants, URS, remains a robust and valid exercise. The site selection exercise assessed the site HNP004 as being "not very well" located in relation to surrounding uses. The assessment judges that development on the site would have a significant impact on views into and/or the setting of the Haddenham conservation area. The assessment also notes that the site is adjacent to or in the setting of four listed buildings and a locally listed building. The site is classified as grade 2 (very good) and 3A (good) agricultural land. The land scores poorly on accessibility to community amenities and
facilities and leisure, sports and recreation facilities. The outcome of the site selection exercise was that what is now site HAD007 was judged to
be unsuitable for development. There is no sound basis for setting this judgement aside.

Impact on Heritage Assets

The Council's site assessment exercise as background work for VALP was undertaken by consultants, Lepus Consulting. Their VALP Assessment of Reasonable Alternatives notes the proximity of site HAD007 to the Haddenham conservation area and a scheduled ancient monument. The report states that development of the site "may affect the setting of the conservation area or adversely affect archaeological features". The assessment notes that
site HAD007 is not well screened, unlike other sites that were assessed and the landscape is of "moderate sensitivity". It is unclear from this limited exercise how site HAD007 came to be allocated or how it was judged to perform against reasonable alternatives. The proposed allocation is unsound because it is in conflict with national guidance on heritage
planning. Although it seems to be accepted that there is the potential for harm to heritage assets there is no assessment as to whether that harm is substantial or less than substantial (National Planning Policy Framework, paragraphs 133 and 134). The Council has a statutory duty under S72 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 to pay special regard to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character and appearance of the conservation area. S66 of the same Act requires special regard to be paid to the desirability of preserving the setting of a listed building. Recent case law has emphasised that
the decision maker should give considerable importance and weight to the desirability of preserving the setting of listed buildings. The inspector's decision in East Northants DC, English Heritage and the National Trust v SSCLG and Barnwell Manor Wind Energy Ltd (2013) was quashed because he had treated harm to the setting of a listed building as just one of a number of considerations rather than giving it special regard.
This decision was followed by R (on the application of the Forge Field Society) v Sevenoaks DC (2014) which relates to housing development in a field between listed buildings in a conservation area. The decision to grant planning permission was quashed because although the harm was less than substantial the planning officer had failed to have regard to the strong presumption against permission in such circumstances. Whilst these court judgments relate to planning applications we contend that the site allocation is unsound because there has been no heritage assessment assessing the impact of the allocation. We are aware of the heritage assessment submitted by the applicant in support of the current planning application for the site (17/02280/AOP) but we do not necessarily accept its findings.
The Haddenham Conservation Area Appraisal describes the various heritage assets in
Rosemary Lane and bordering the allocation site, including the witchert wall which runs along a significant stretch of the allocation site's southern boundary. Witchert walls also bound the five heritage assets in Rosemary Lane and are an integral part of the character and appearance of the conservation area. Indeed along the southern boundary of the allocation site the witchert walls form the boundary of the settlement and their setting will be fundamentally adversely affected by any development on the proposed site allocation.

Landscape Impact

The Assessment of Reasonable Alternatives document accepts that the site allocation has moderate landscape sensitivity. It notes that there is an Area of Attractive Landscape north of Haddenham "which may be affected by development at HAD007". In the committee report on planning application 17/01225/OAP for 72 houses on the land on the opposite side of Churchway to the allocation site the officer has a fundamental concern with development of the site because it is a green field site in the open countryside which is highly exposed on three sides. The same comments equally apply to the allocation site. The allocation site is not well screened and provides open views towards the Haddenham conservation area from the north. It is a green field site in the open countryside which contributes to the rural setting of Haddenham and does not relate well to the remainder of the settlement.

Sustainability Impact

The site would need to take its vehicular access from Churchway but there is a public right of way linking it to the south between houses in Rosemary Lane. This right of way is relatively narrow and also has access to garages for houses fronting Rosemary Lane, giving rise to safety concerns.
However, the site is somewhat detached from the shops and services at Haddenham and scores poorly on this aspect of sustainability in the Neighbourhood Plan site assessment exercise. There is no direct footpath or cycleway link to the Airfield site that is currently being developed, the business park or Parkway station which emphasises the allocation's relativeisolation.
The proposed allocation is not well related to the settlement and would form an
unsustainable addition to the built-up area.

Loss of Best and Most Versatile Agricultural Land

As mentioned above, the site is grade 2 and 3A agricultural land. National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 112 advises local planning authorities to take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land. Where significant development of agricultural land is necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of higher quality. There is no evidence that the Council has undertaken this exercise in its site allocation process.

Impact on Deliverability

There are unresolved issues in relation to water supply and flooding. Thames Water, a consultee on the current planning application, advises that the existing water supply infrastructure has insufficient capacity to meet the additional demand of development. There is also an inability of the waste water infrastructure to meet development needs.
The County Council's Strategic Flood Management Team objects to the planning application on flooding grounds.
It would be contrary to good practice to include the allocation of a site that may not be deliverable, making the proposed allocation unsound.
In these circumstances it would be inappropriate for the proposed site allocation to be confirmed.


Proposed site allocation HAD007 is unsound. It is inconsistent with national policy guidance relating to heritage and agricultural land, has adverse landscape impact and is unsustainable. There are also deliverability issues relating to water supply infrastructure and flooding.

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