Whitehall dismisses housing plan for village near Milton Keynes

A government planning inspector has sided with Milton Keynes Council in rejecting the principle of building homes on farm land on the outskirts of a village.

Developer Toft Hill appealed to the Planning Inspectorate after the council refused its outline proposal to build 15 homes on land at Moat Farm, off Chicheley Road, North Crawley.

Farm land near North Crawley

Farm land near North Crawley

“The proposal would, by projecting into the countryside, cause harm to the character and appearance of the rural area, and so would not be an appropriate location for housing,” said planning inspector Andrew Smith. He made the decision to throw out the appeal on May 1.

Mr Smith quoted policies from the local planning bible, Plan:MK, as justification for his decision.

These policies include one that states that planning permission within the open countryside “will only be granted for development which is essential or wholly appropriate to a rural area, or where other policies within this plan indicate development would be appropriate.”

The inspector said the council’s new housing will be focused on, and adjacent to, the existing urban area of Milton Keynes as well as Newport Pagnell, Olney, and Woburn Sands.

“There is not currently a policy vacuum with respect to considering applications for housing development at North Crawley,” he said.

Also critical was MK Council’s ability to show that there is a five-year supply of “deliverable housing sites”.

Mr Smith added: “At this point in time therefore, further housing sites do not need to be allocated in order to meet current borough-wide housing needs for the next five years.”

However, he noted that the “extent of supply over and above this five year threshold is limited.”

But in this case he concluded: “The contributions associated with the delivery of 15 additional units would be relatively modest and would not outweigh the significant harm identified to the character and appearance of the rural area. That harm is the overriding consideration.”