Appeal Decision 3rd February (Travis Perkins): Land at Milton Ham, Towcester Road, Northampton

The main issues are the effect on the character and appearance of the area; and whether the site represents an appropriate location for the development having regard to the development plan.

Conclusion (in full)

52. I have had regard to the social and economic benefits that would arise from the proposed development through jobs during construction, those created by the scheme and the ongoing operational benefits for the appellant. I attach this matter significant weight in the context of the Framework’s objectives to build and support a strong, competitive economy.

53. I also note other benefits that would arise from the scheme in terms of additional landscaping and habitat creation that would contribute towards environmental objectives, as well as those of the Northampton Green Infrastructure Plan (May 2016). However, these physical environmental benefits are far outweighed by the landscape and visual harm that I have identified and the conflict with the development plan. The development does not fulfil the environmental objectives of the Framework, which should be sought jointly and simultaneously with social and economic objectives to achieve sustainable development.

54. Even cumulatively, the benefits of the scheme would not outweigh the significant harm that I have identified. It has not been demonstrated that the appeal site is the only location available for the proposed development or that such a need exists for this development as to outweigh the significant harm to the character and appearance of the area that would result.

55. In light of the above, and having considered all other matters, the appeal is dismissed.

Highlights

· The Council’s reason for refusal refers to effects on the existing network of green space.

· The proximity of the site to the canal, a key component of the corridor, is such that it can clearly influence its sense of place and Policy BN1 of the JCS should, therefore, be applied.

· Policy BN5 of the JCS is entitled ‘The Historic Environment and Landscape’ and there was no other policy within the JCS which sought to protect landscape. The policy sets a general requirement to conserve and enhance the landscape and I consider that it is relevant to this appeal.

· It would introduce a substantial industrial building into an area which is currently open and separated from the established industrial area and would result in a marked and permanent change to the landscape in the vicinity of the site, which could not be fully mitigated by landscaping.

· It would significantly erode the rural characteristics of the site and its contribution to the green area separating the town from the strategic highway network, as well as the visual connection with the wider countryside. This impact would be compounded by the significant landscaping bunds surrounding the proposed building which, whilst necessary to mitigate its visual impacts, would be seen as engineered features in the landscape.

· Impacts would also be experienced from the canal towpath forming a key component of the green infrastructure corridor

· The proposals would cause an immediately apparent or fundamental change in character in a landscape of low importance.

· A major and immediately apparent part of the scene, changing its overall character from the currently rural views, the overall significance of effect would be major and adverse due to the dominating changes to views from moderately important receptors.

· Residential occupiers are likely to be highly sensitive to changes in views, even if that view is not of the highest quality in landscape terms.

· Views from the public right of way HW11 which runs along the boundary of the Counties Crematorium towards the M1 underpass. I have seen nothing that persuades me that receptors using this route would be anything other than highly sensitive to changes in the landscape as suggested by the Council. Note: Worse still on the same road between Milton Malsor and Blisworth

· The magnitude of effect on receptors enjoying the canal towpath would be moderate, leading to a major/moderate significance of effect, even at year 10.

· There is further dispute between the parties in respect of views from the Northamptonshire Round public right of way, a circular walk through the villages and countryside surrounding Northampton which is of greater than local significance for recreational walkers. The route is likely to be used primarily for leisure and recreation pursuits, including to enjoy scenic views. Therefore, receptors are undoubtedly of high sensitivity to changes in the landscape.

· The development would harm the character and appearance of the area. This would be in conflict with Policies BN1, BN5 and S10 of the JCS.

· The JCS identifies the allocation of a strategic employment site at Northampton M1, Junction 16. In addition, a strategic site known as the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT) is allocated, where the majority of new large warehousing developments (in excess of 40,000sqm) are expected to be located.

· The JCS is clear that the area has a large supply of existing warehouse developments and that delivering new space to cater for the warehousing sector on a trend based trajectory would not be desirable nor sustainable in the long term in order to achieve a balanced economy. It was also considered that the allocation of strategic employment sites for B8 uses, particularly the Midway site at Junction 16 of the M1 and DIRFT, would accommodate these needs and ensure an appropriate and balanced supply of suitable land.

· The JCS directs large scale warehouses to DIRFT under normal circumstances and so the effects on the location of employment have been anticipated and planned for.