Good News! After a lengthy delay, the Secretary of State has Dismissed the Pale Lane Appeal, meaning that the threat of an extra 700 houses on the western edge of Fleet has been seen off.
The Secretary of State agreed with the appeal Inspector that "there is no need for 700 homes in this location". This is because Hart can now show it has enough development in the pipeline (what planners call a '5-year land supply', because of our advanced emerging Local Plan.
The Secretary of State also agreed with the Inspector that "the effects on the landscape character of the site would be significant and adverse." He decided that it would blur the boundary of Fleet, which he considered would be unacceptable.
Hart's Planning Officers originally refused the Pale Lane application, under the Council's Scheme of Delegation, as it was contrary to the Council's Planning policies. The developers tried to get the site added into the emerging Local Plan, but failed to persuade the Local Plan Examiner of their argument. They then went to Appeal, despite acknowledging that a lot of Hart's concerns were, in fact, valid. This led the Inspector to recommend dismissal of the Appeal. It was 'called-in' by the Secretary of State, who has now agreed with the Inspector's recommendation.
The delay in the decision-making was caused by a number of factors, such as the various changes of Secretary of State since the 'call-in' process was triggered!
This victory shows that the long-term approach to planning policy which Hart is now pursuing under the Lib-Dem/CCH coalition is already producing results and stopping the Planning by Appeal which has blighted Fleet and other areas