Is Pickles Now Claiming their is Right to A View?

In some recent renewable decisions especially one relating to a Solar Farm, Pickles has hinted he is turning all established principles for judging the impact on any proposal on its head.  I read the recent Copland decision with some interest.  No problem with the decision, it would be clearly be harmful, the policy context was up to date, the inspector recommended refusal.  However the SoS letter hinted that Pickles is leaving open the issue of whether a view from a private property is a material planning issue – dangerous.

The Inspectors letter correctly sets out the law.

it has not been claimed by the Council that the turbines would be so close to any dwellings as to be unacceptably dominant or overbearing in the outlook from those dwellings or to make them unpleasant places to live (the ‘Lavender test’)….

Whilst there would clearly be a change in the views available from numerous dwellings and from other private places, it is a well established planning principle that there is no right to maintain unchanged such views from private property. To do otherwise would severely constrain all types of development, whatever their public benefits, which would be contrary to the public interest. Nevertheless the general public perception of valued landscape character should not exclude how that character may be perceived in views from private dwellings….

This is an application of the Stringer Test.  Planning is about public interest not private interest though sometimes a private interest may also be a public one, so for example views from homes of a lake district landscape my contribute to they character of that landscape.

However Pickles does not quite make that distinction in his letter.

The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that the views available from many private dwellings, buildings and land in the settlements are relevant to considerations of the effect on landscape character but that they do not here result in other unacceptable visual amenity impacts on occupants of individual dwellings that are separate from his considerations of landscape character.

This part of the letter is likely to be seized on, but without the context of the Inspectors recommendations it makes no sense.