Whilst the Plan’s overall development strategy focussing the majority of new housing and employment development at Rugby, with some limited housing
development at Main Rural Settlements (MRSs) to sustain the borough’s rural communities, is sound, the proposed new MRS at Lodge Farm (DS3.15)would not be soundly-based as part of this strategy.
In terms of the suitability of this location for major development, the
proposed site for Lodge Farm is situated around 10 kilometres (km) from the centre of Rugby and 24 km from Coventry. Paragraph 34 of NPPF expects plans to ensure that developments which generate significant movement are
located where the need to travel will be minimised and the use of sustainable transport modes can be maximised. Even if the new village could viably support a new bus service and cycle route into Rugby, the distance and
journey times to both Rugby and Coventry by either of these modes or a
combination of them would be unlikely to encourage their use. Whilst some day to day journeys to the local shops, surgery and primary school could bemade on foot within the village, trips to secondary school, employment locations and main shopping and leisure destinations off-site would be largely car dependent. As such, I am not persuaded it is a location which could be
made sustainable in transport terms. Whilst paragraph 34 also notes that
account needs to be taken of policies for rural areas, the emphasis in
paragraph 55 of the NPPF is that to promote sustainable development in rural areas, housing should be located where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities. It is not apparent that Lodge Farm would
support existing surrounding rural communities to any significant extent,
since its local facilities would be scaled to serve the needs of the new
Lodge Farm is also located in the countryside, within the Leam and
Rainsbrook Valleys. Although not subject to a national or local designation,
the landscape surrounding the site is open and attractive, visible from the
surrounding valley sides including the Rainsbrook escarpment, and contains many historic features, including both designated and non-designated heritage assets. The area also has a distinctive settlement pattern, characterised by small scale villages and hamlets. It is a core planning
principle in paragraph 17 of the NPPF that account should be taken of the
intrinsic beauty and character of the countryside. The development of a new
settlement of 1,500 dwellings in this setting, even with the inclusion of
landscaping and green space, would cause significant harm to the intrinsic beauty and character of the countryside in this part of the borough.
Whilst it would provide additional market and affordable housing and support new transport and secondary school infrastructure within Rugby, Lodge Farm is not required to meet those needs. The site would deliver some 665 homes
within the Plan period, which represents around 4% of the total housing land supply of 15,369 homes for the borough over the Plan period. Without LodgeFarm, the remaining housing land supply would still exceed the housing requirement of 12,400 dwellings by 18%, significantly boosting the supply of housing and meeting both the market and affordable housing needs of theborough. In terms of the 5 year housing land supply, based on the housing trajectory in the submitted plan, Lodge Farm would contribute just 25 dwellings to the Plan’s first 5 years of housing land supply and therefore the borough would not be reliant on it to ensure a 5 year deliverable supply ofhousing sites. Neither would the loss of 80 dwellings per year, which Lodge Farm would contribute to each of the remaining years of the plan period, compromise the delivery of a rolling 5 year housing land supply. In terms of its contribution to the borough’s infrastructure requirements, the Lodge Farm development would contribute to the costs of the proposed new
secondary school and spine road at South West Rugby. However, from
evidence presented to the hearings, the South West Rugby development on its own would be viably able to deliver the full strategic transport and
education requirements necessary to support that development, including the spine road network and Homestead link around Dunchurch. Therefore, the Lodge Farm allocation is not required to meet the development or infrastructure needs of the borough.
3For these main reasons, I find that the allocation of Lodge Farm as part of
the Plan’s development strategy is not positively prepared, justified as an
appropriate site, effective in addressing the cross-boundary unmet needs of Coventry or consistent with national policy in enabling the delivery of
sustainable development. Therefore, in order to make the Plan sound, the
main modifications should include the deletion of the proposed allocation at Lodge Farm, together with consequential modifications to the related policies and supporting text of the Plan.