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Village character preserved

In June 2003, our local group learnt of a planning application to build two detached houses and two double garages after demolition of a bungalow and garage in a village near Downham Market...


Local planning policy allows for the development of one to five new dwellings within the confines of the village, and demolition of a 1930s bungalow to make room for two houses seemed a good use of the site, allowing more people to live on the same piece of land (in line with the criteria for higher density and re-use of brownfield land in the Government planning guidance on housing (PPG 3)).

However, a site visit revealed not only that the bungalow was built on the edge of the common in the older part of the village but that, set back on the same stretch of common, with open countryside beyond, was a Grade ll listed 16th-century manor farm house with adjoining farm buildings.

The visit made us look at the application in an entirely different way. We now had to consider how the development would affect the setting of a listed building, albeit one that is not in a conservation area. Considering the setting, the proposed development would clearly look too urban, and PPG3 density requirements were inappropriate.

We objected to the proposals on these grounds, quoting local county and national planning policies regarding development affecting the setting of listed buildings (PPG 15). We also supported the parish council and many residents in their objections to the application.

However, the borough council's officers recommended approval, so we lobbied borough councillors on the development control board. When the application came before the board, the councillors refused permission, having made a site visit, at our suggestion.

The applicant subsequently appealed against the decision, and we wrote to the inspector, reiterating that we believed the proposals would adversely affect the setting of a listed building, quoting all the local policies and planning guidance and stating that PPG3 guidance was not appropriate in this setting.

The Inspector dismissed the application. Much to our gratification, we note that his reasons for dismissal are based on all the same planning reasons we put forward in our objection to the proposals.

- Rosemary Bryan, casework secretary, CPRE West Norfolk

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