Rural affordable homes knocked back

By Gavin McEwan   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Wednesday 23rd February 2022 12:00 pm
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A bid to build five houses by the A49 between Hereford and Ross-on-Wye has been knocked back by a government inspector.

The plan would have seen three “affordable” two-bedroom homes and two three-bedroom market-rate homes built in a small field by Everstone House west of Peterstow. Each would have had two parking spaces.

The original application, made in March 2020, said the plan “is not viable from a commercial perspective, but the applicant is prepared to accept a lower developer profit and land value in recognition of the need for affordable housing”.

Two previous bids to build only open-market houses on the site had earlier been refused.

But the developer’s altruism failed to sway Herefordshire Council planners, who ruled in September 2020 that the plan was in an “unsustainable” location, “clearly affected by road traffic noise to a significant degree”, and would have “a detrimental urbanising impact” on its setting.

This was despite the council’s housing development officer saying she was “happy to support this type of affordable housing”.

An appeal by the applicants, who are local farmers, claimed that delivery of affordable housing in the parish will be dependent entirely on “exception” (unallocated) sites such as they were proposing, “a position underscored by the housing officer’s support for the scheme”.

In his decision this month, planning inspector John Longmuir said the need for affordable housing “has been shown, and delivery in such a rural area is challenging”.

But the houses’ location went against national planning policy, which discourages new “isolated” developments in the countryside.

“The occupants of the five houses should not have easy access to everyday facilities and social mixing”, while the proposal would also “result in harm to the living conditions of the neighbours”, he said.

And while the houses would boast photo-voltaic panels and energy-efficient design, “this would be far outweighed by the site being away from everyday facilities, and the resulting car dependency would generate carbon emissions”.

He concluded that these factors outweighed the need for affordable housing, and refused the appeal.

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