Eric Pickles turns down housing scheme because of effect on Grade 1 Abbey
Recently, we have been involved in a number of schemes involving some degree of harm on the setting of listed buildings.
The latest ruling from the Secretary of State in respect of Wymondham Abbey is especially important as it looks at balancing the need for new housing against the need to protect the historical environment.
The appeal (ref APP/L2630/A/13/2196884) related to a scheme to provide 70 new dwellings which English Heritage regarded as causing substantial harm to the setting of the Abbey.
The Inspector disagreed and concluded that the harm would be "less than substantial" but nonetheless amounted to a level of harm to which "considerable weight and importance should be attached".
Pickles agreed with the Inspector and decided that this weight, including the harm to the landscape, outweighed the benefit of the scheme in providing additional housing to make up a shortfall in the 5 year supply.
This decision taken together with the recent revised PPG guidance on housing need shows that the Government is placing considerable importance on protecting the historical landscape.
A further interesting point that came out of the Wymondham case is the relevance of accurate photomontages as it was held that the photomontages produced, although useful, could only be given limited weight as they had relied upon incorrect Edge of Best View.