Homes England Prevail In The Battle Of Brislington Meadows
Following a 3 week inquiry, Planning Inspector Owen Woodwards has today allowed an appeal by Homes England in relation to a proposed 260 home development on an allocated site at Brislington Meadows in Bristol. The appeal and inquiry had a high profile and became known in the media as the ‘Battle of Brislington Meadows’.
Having sold the allocated site to Homes England, Bristol City Council decided to promote its de-allocation in their emerging local plan. Homes England’s planning application was not determined within the statutory timescale.
An appeal against non determination was opposed on several grounds, including most prominently an allegation that several veteran trees were present on site which (it was alleged) had been missed in the arboriculture surveys and whose removal was contrary to the allocation policy as well as NPPF para. 180(c) which provides that “development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as ancient woodland and ancient or veteran trees) should be refused, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons and a suitable compensation strategy exists”.
Other objections related to urban design, landscape and visual impact (including the allegation that the site despite its allocation was a valued landscape under NPPF para. 174(a)) hedgerows and ecology.
Allowing the appeal, the Inspector found that all the reasons for refusal were unsubstantiated by the Council’s evidence at the inquiry, preferring instead the Appellant’s evidence on the main points. His analysis in relation to veteran trees, rejecting the methodology relied upon by the Council for the identification of such trees, is likely to be of interest to those involved in considering this issue in other contexts.
Charles Banner KC acted as lead counsel for Homes England, with fellow counsel Matthew Henderson, instructed by Jonathan Bower and James Clark of Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP. Many others worked hard on this project behind the scenes.