Public inquiry told plan for 120 homes in Buxton ‘should be refused’

The development site at Burbage
The development site at Burbage

A planning inspector was told he should refuse an appeal by builder Persimmon Homes against High Peak Borough Council’s objection to its plan for 120 homes in Buxton countryside at a public inquiry yesterday (Wednesday).

The appeal comes after the council refused plans for the homes on Leek Road in 
Burbage last year.

Setting out the case against the development for the council, Giles Cannock QC said it would cause a ‘visual intrusion and fail to protect a valued landscape’ and ‘permission should therefore be refused’.

However Charles Banner QC, representing Persimmon, told planning inspector Hayden Baugh-Jones greenfield sites outside Buxton had to be considered due to limited space in the town.

Speaking about the council’s refusal on the grounds of ‘prominent intrusion into the countryside’, he said: “The test is not one of zero harm or zero change.

“Any such development is bound to have some visual impact and is bound to involve some landscape character impact.”

Mr Banner pointed out that government planning policies allowed a ‘built-in degree of tolerance’ towards some landscape and visual impacts to ensure government targets to plug the housing gap were met.

He also told the inquiry the development would deliver up to 100 dwellings while the council’s local plan so far had a housing shortfall of almost 1,000 homes.

Mr Banner said the site was ‘not a valued landscape’ and its landscape quality had been ‘significantly overplayed’.

However Mr Cannock told the inquiry the council was ‘confident’ it could meet housing targets up to 2031 and planning policies showed developments outside built-up areas should be on a ‘smaller scale’.

Members of the public said they were not happy Persimmon had made changes to its illustrative masterplan of the site and reduced the number of homes from 120 to 100 before the appeal - effectively submitting an alternative plan.

The inspector said the inquiry was deciding nothing more than the ‘principal’ of an outline plan for up to 100 houses on the land - the detail would be considered during a separate ‘reserved matters’ application.

However Mr Cannock said: “The detail of highways is not provided in the outline and the design may be reserved matters but this appellant must demonstrate there is a detailed design which is in principal accepted.”

Andrew Wood, consultant planning officer for charity Friends of the Peak District, told the inquiry the site would extend Buxton’s town boundary even further and the Leek Road site had already been rejected in the local plan.

He also told how the development would be badly connected to nearby developments and Buxton - therefore making residents ‘very unlikely to move through their surrounding neighbourhood on foot’.

The appeal - being heard at the Best Western Lee Wood Hotel - is due to last six days.