Berkeley Homes set to challenge High Weald development refusal

An aerial view of the proposed development

DEVELOPERS who submitted a plan for 165 houses in Cranbrook in 2020 – only for it to be rejected by the government early last month – are to challenge the decision.

Berkeley Homes’ proposed development, on land adjacent to Turnden on Hartley Road, Cranbrook, was refused in the name of Michael Gove, Secretary of State (SoS) for Levelling-Up, Housing & Communities.

In doing so, Mr Gove overruled the Inspector’s recommendation to approve the development, subject to conditions.

In a nine-page letter to Berkeley Homes about the decision, Mr Gove stressed positives of the proposals: housing need, biodiversity net gain, opportunities for recreation, highway safety improvements, heritage and even landscape benefits.

However, he gave considerable “weight” to any “harm” to the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s (HWAONB) landscape and scenic beauty, as well as conflict with the Council’s spatial strategy.

Mr Gove concluded that “exceptional circumstances do not exist to justify the proposed development in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and that the development would not be in the public interest.”

The report added: “Overall, [the Secretary of State] does not find that the scheme is sensitively designed with regard to its setting.

“He [Mr Gove] finds that the design of the proposal does not reflect the expectations
of the High Weald Housing Design Guide, being of a generic suburban nature, which does not reproduce the constituent elements of local settlements.”

Berkeley Homes has since announced its intention to challenge what they called “the irrational decision” to overrule the Inspector’s recommendation.

Speaking before Berkeley Homes’ decision to challenge, Cllr Tom Dawlings (Benenden & Cranbrook) expressed “surprise” when the development was refused, and warned that the need for housing remained.

“Pleasing as it is to save sites like Turnden from development, a worrying consequence of this decision may well be the development of other more sensitive sites simply because the Borough does not have a five-year housing supply,” he told the Times.

“The Secretary of State’s decision seemed to be more based on housing design than the principle of development and, for that reason, a revised housing scheme may well be pursued,” he added.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter