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Representation 1959 on Preferred Options Local Plan by Mr Adrian Gascoyne

Support / Object: OBJECT
Document Link: Preferred Options Local Plan - Sustainable Settlements, Rowhedge, SS14: Land to the south of Battleswick Farm Rowhedge Road
Representation: The heritage interests and significance of Battleswick Farmhouse and its associated buildings, and the contribution of the site to their setting and significance was not taken into consideration during Colchester Borough Council's SHLAA and associated Sustainability Appraisal, as to the suitability of this site for development.

Due to the fact that the rural agricultural setting of the buildings makes a fundamental contribution to their heritage significance, harm arising from development could not be mitigated through design or landscaping; the site is unsuitable in principle for housing development. SS14 is unsuitable to carry forward into the Submission Local Plan

Original submission

43 Regent Street
Rowhedge
Colchester
Essex
CO5 7EA

16th September 2016

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing in response to Colchester Borough Council's current consultation on its 'Preferred Options Local Plan', and the proposed allocation for residential development (up 60 new dwellings) on land to the south of Battleswick Farm, Rowhedge (Policy SS14). I have set out the relevant legislative and policy context to my comments as an Appendix.

Although I am writing in my capacity as a resident of Rowhedge, having lived here for the past 18 years, my intention is to give my professional opinion on this proposed allocation.

My professional credentials are as follows:

I am a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA), Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (MCIfA) and an affiliate of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation. I have a degree in Archaeology from Cardiff University and more than twenty three years professional experience as an historic environment specialist, nineteen of which have been spent working on the understanding, conservation and promotion of the historic environment of Essex. I was employed by Colchester Borough Council as an Archaeological Officer between 1997 and 2002, during which time I co-created the Colchester Urban Archaeological Database and co-authored 'Colchester: Fortress of the War God' (Gascoyne and Radford 2013).

I am currently employed as the Historic and Built Environment Manager at Essex County Council, where I run a multi-disciplinary team of historic buildings specialists, archaeologists urban and landscape designers, planners, and a public art consultant, providing specialist advice to local planning authorities, and delivering a wide range of historic and built environment based projects. I regularly provide advice to local planning authorities on the impact on the historic environment of the full spectrum of planning applications, including effects on the setting of heritage assets, and over the last twelve years I have undertaken assessments of the significance of a wide range of heritage assets in Essex, and beyond. I have previously given evidence on behalf of Essex County Council at Examination in Public, with regard to the historic environment impacts of mineral development in the county, and have acted as an independent expert witness for historic environment matters, on behalf of local planning authorities, at planning inquiries e.g. Planning Inspectorate reference: APP/C1570/A/14/2222958; APP/C1570/A/1570/A/15/3010055.

Policy SS14: Land to the south of Battleswick Farm, Rowhedge Road

This policy proposes the allocation of land to the south of Battleswick Farm, Rowhedge Road, Rowhedge for residential development of up to 60 new dwellings, including affordable housing, appropriate SuDS, and the retention and enhancement of existing field boundary vegetation to provide landscape buffering between the site and neighbouring housing. It is proposed that vehicular and pedestrian access from Rowhedge Road will be via the existing approach to Battleswick Farm and through footpath provision linking the site to Hill View Close.

Having visited Battleswick Farm on a number of occasions over the years, and studied relevant documentary material on the history of the village, it is my opinion that Battleswick Farm, in particular the farmhouse and barn, holds sufficient heritage interest to constitute non-designated heritage assets for the purpose of the National Planning Policy Framework, thus meriting material consideration in any future planning decisions affecting the farm or its setting. The farm is included on the Colchester Urban Archaeological Database and Historic Environment Record.

I note that, in partial fulfilment of the requirement of paragraph 126 of the NPPF, existing policy DP14 Historic Environment Assets, and emerging policy DM 16 Historic Environment of Colchester Borough Council's 'Preferred Options Local Plan', state that conservation of the historic environment will be in part ensured by:

Protection and enhancement of existing buildings and built areas which do not have Listed Building or Conservation Area status but have a particular local importance or character which it is desirable to keep. Such buildings or groups of buildings will be identified through a Local List which will be adopted by the Council.

The buildings should therefore be considered for inclusion on the local list and subsequent adoption by the Council and as a minimum should be treated as such for the purposes of determining the appropriateness of the site on land south of Battleswick Farm for residential development.

Furthermore, it is my opinion that the architectural and historic interest of the farmhouse, and potentially also the barn, is such that the buildings would meet the statutory criteria for listing under the 'Principles for selection for Listed Buildings' (DCMS, 2010). The farmhouse includes a number of internal features, including an ogee arch doorway and edge-halved scarf joint that indicate it was originally constructed in the 16th century, or earlier. The barn is later, but together with other ancillary buildings on the farmstead, the assemblage clearly represents local farming traditions over time and brings group value to the farmhouse.

Whilst (despite Paragraph 126 of NPPF) Colchester Borough Council might not consider its role to submit an application to have a building considered for listing by DCMS under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (LBA), I would recommend that they are treated as if they were designated as listed buildings by Colchester Borough Council, for the purposes of determining this sites suitability for residential development.

My reasoning for this is as follows:

Paragraph 139 of the NPPF requires that: 'Non-designated heritage assets of archaeological interest that are demonstrably of equivalent significance to scheduled monuments, should be considered subject to the policies for designated heritage assets'. The NPPG identifies non-designated heritage assets with archaeological interest that are demonstrably of equivalent significance to scheduled monuments as being of three types, including those that have yet to be formally assessed for designation.

By parity of argument, non-designated heritage assets of historic and architectural interest that are demonstrably of equivalent significance to listed buildings, but which have yet to be formally assessed for designation, should also be considered subject to policies for designated heritage assets.

Unfortunately it is clear that the heritage interests and significance of Battleswick Farmhouse and its associated buildings, and the contribution of the site to their setting and significance was not taken into consideration during Colchester Borough Council's Strategic Land Availability Assessment and associated Sustainability Appraisal, as to the suitability of this site for development.

However, based on my existing understanding of the site, I have undertaken a preliminary assessment of the setting and significance of the farmhouse and its associated buildings from publicly accessible areas following the Historic England guidelines (Historic England Good Practice Advice in Planning Note 3: The Setting of Heritage Assets, 2015), and have concluded that development on the land subject to proposed allocation under Policy SS14 would result in a moderate adverse impact to the setting and significance of the buildings due to permanent alterations to key attributes of the asset's setting, such that post development their contribution to the assets significance, and the ability to understand and appreciate the assets would be partially changed.

Due to the fact that the rural agricultural setting of the buildings makes a fundamental contribution to their significance, it is my opinion that this harm could not be mitigated through design or landscaping; the site is unsuitable in principle for housing development because of the harm that would arise to these heritage assets.

The harm arising from any development on the site would be less than substantial harm as referred to in NPPF Paragraph 132, therefore paragraph 134 of the NPPF would apply. Development in this location would also be contrary to local plan policy DP 14 Historic Environment Assets and emerging local policy DM 16 Historic Environment, which requires the 'protection and enhancement of existing buildings and built areas which do not have listed Building status, but have a particular local importance or character which it is desirable to keep', and 'Preserving and enhancing Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments, Historic Parks and Gardens, including their respective settings, and other features which contribute to the heritage of the Borough'.

Furthermore, if one or more of the buildings has achieved listed status by the time any future planning application for the site is submitted, the statutory duty under S.66(1) of the LBA will apply, and as determined by the Courts, S.66(1) is more than a material consideration.

As I am sure you will be aware, recent case law has clarified how development affecting the setting of a listed building should be considered. The Courts have confirmed that, even where the harm to setting and significance is found to be less than substantial, a decision maker who follows the balancing approach recommended in para 134 of NPPF, to be undertaken in respect of harm to the significance of heritage assets, should give "considerable importance and weight" to any harm to the setting and significance of a listed building and to the desirability of preserving that setting without harm, and should start with a "strong presumption" that harm to the setting and significance of a listed building should lead to a refusal of planning permission, and not ignore the statutory duty under S.66(1) of the 1990 Act. If harm to the setting and significance of a heritage asset is found to be less than substantial, the balancing exercise should still give weight to the desirability of avoiding harm, indeed to the statutory requirement of the desirability of preserving the building or its setting.

Whilst I disagree that development on the site can be accommodated 'without .... an unreasonable impact on local services and facilities', I do not feel able to express an opinion on these matters in a way that would carry weight.

However, it is my professional opinion that any such development would result in significant harm to the historic environment of Rowhedge, and hence to the wider Borough, and would be contrary to the core principle of the NPPF for heritage assets to be conserved 'in a manner appropriate to their significance, so that they can be enjoyed for their contribution to the quality of life of this and future generations' (paragraph 17).

For the reasons set out above, I hope that Colchester Borough Council will now determine that Policy SS14 is unsuitable to carry forward into the Submission Local Plan.

Kind regards,

Adrian Gascoyne



Appendix: Legislation and Policy Context
Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (LBA)

Section 66(1) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 sets out the legislative context for development that affects the setting of listed buildings:

'In considering whether to grant planning permission for development which affects a listed building or its setting, the Local Planning Authority or, as the case may be, the Secretary of State, shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possess.'

National Planning Policy Framework, NPPF (2012)

The planning policy context for the assessment of impact on the setting of heritage assets is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Annex 2: Glossary of the NPPF defines the terms 'heritage asset', 'significance' and 'setting'.

Heritage asset: A building, monument, site, place, area or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, because of its heritage interest. Heritage asset includes designated heritage assets and assets identified by the local planning authority (including local listing).

Setting of a heritage asset: The surroundings in which a heritage asset is experienced. Its extent is not fixed and may change as the asset and its surroundings evolve. Elements of a setting may make a positive or negative contribution to the significance of an asset, may affect the ability to appreciate that significance or may be neutral.

Significance (for heritage policy): The value of a heritage asset to this and future generations because of its heritage interest. That interest may be archaeological, architectural, artistic or historic. Significance derives not only from a heritage asset's physical presence, but also from its setting.
One of the core principles of the NPPF, as set out in paragraph 17, is to 'conserve heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance, so that they can be enjoyed for their contribution to the quality of life of this and future generations'.

The following paragraphs in the NPPF are of particular importance when considering the impact of development on the setting of heritage assets:
Paragraph 128 requires applicants to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting. The level of detail should be proportionate to the assets' importance and no more than is sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on their significance.

Paragraph 132 states that the significance of a designated heritage asset can be harmed or lost through development within its setting. As heritage assets are irreplaceable, any harm or loss should require clear and convincing justification. When considering the impact of a proposed development on the significance of a designated heritage asset, great weight should be given to the asset's conservation. The more important the asset, the greater the weight should be. Substantial harm should be exceptional for all heritage assets but wholly exceptional with regard to heritage assets of the highest significance.

Paragraph 134 sets out that where less than substantial harm is involved this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal.
Paragraph 135 requires the effect of a planning application on the significance of a non-designated asset to be taken into account in determining an application. In weighting applications that affect directly or indirectly non designated heritage assets, a balanced judgement will be required having regard to the scale of any harm or loss of the significance of the heritage asset.

Paragraph 137 states that local planning authorities should look favourably on applications that preserve those elements of the setting that make a positive contribution to or better reveal the significance of the asset.

Paragraph 139 of the NPPF requires that 'Non-designated heritage assets of archaeological interest that are demonstrably of equivalent significance to scheduled monuments, should be considered subject to the policies for designated heritage assets'.

National Planning Practice Guidance 2014 (NPPG)

The National Planning Practice Guidance has been adopted to support the NPPF and reiterates that the conservation of heritage assets in a manner that is appropriate to their significance is a core planning principle. Key elements of the guidance relate to assessing harm to a heritage asset. In paragraph 017 (18a-017-20140306), the NPPG advices that what matters in assessing if a proposal causes substantial harm is the impact on the significance of the heritage asset, and confirms that significance derives not only from a heritage asset's physical presence, but also from its setting. It is the degree of harm to the asset's significance rather than the scale of development that is to be assessed, and confirms that harm may arise from development within the setting of a heritage asset. Whether a proposal causes substantial harm will be a judgment for the decision taker, having regard to the circumstances of the case and the policy in the NPPF. In general terms, substantial harm is a high test, so it may not arise in many cases.

In paragraph 013 (18a-013-20140306) setting is stated to include the surroundings in which an asset is experienced. All heritage assets have a setting, irrespective of the form in which they survive and whether they are designated or not. The extent and importance of setting is often expressed by reference to visual considerations. Although views of or from an asset will play an important part, the way in which we experience an asset in its setting is also influenced by other environmental factors such as noise, dust and vibration from other land uses in the vicinity, and by our understanding of the historic relationship between places. For example, buildings that are in close proximity but are not visible from each other may have a historic or aesthetic connection that amplifies the experience of the significance of each.

The NPPG confirms that the contribution that setting makes to the significance of the heritage asset does not depend on there being public rights or an ability to access or experience that setting. This will vary over time and according to circumstance.

Paragraph 039 (ref 18a-039-20140306) defines non-designated heritage assets and the importance they should be given in planning decisions. Non-designated heritage assets are buildings, monuments, sites, places areas or landscapes identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, but which are not formally designated under relevant legislation. Local planning authorities are able to identify non-designated heritage assets.

Policy DP14: Historic Environment Assets

Development will not be permitted that will adversely affect a listed building, a conservation area, historic park or garden or important archaeological remains. Development affecting the historic environment should seek to preserve or enhance the heritage asset and any features of specific historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic interest. In all cases there will be an expectation that any new development will enhance the historic environment in the first instance, unless there are no identifiable opportunities available. In instances where existing features have a negative impact on the historic environment, as identified through character appraisals, the Local Planning Authority will request the removal of the features that undermine the historic environment as part of any proposed development. Support will be given to the provision of creative and accessible interpretations of heritage assets.

Conservation of the historic environment will also be ensured by:

(i) Identifying, characterising, protecting and enhancing Conservation Areas;
(ii) Protection and enhancement of existing buildings and built areas which do not have Listed Building or Conservation Area status but have a particular local importance or character which it is desirable to keep. Such buildings or groups of buildings will be identified through a Local List which will be adopted by the Council;
(iii) Preserving or enhancing Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments, Historic Parks and Gardens, including their respective settings, and other features which contribute to the heritage of the Borough; and
(iv) Known sites of archaeological importance will be clearly identified and protected, and sites that become known, whether through formal evaluation as part of a Planning Application or otherwise, will similarly be protected according to their importance.

Heritage Statements and/or Archaeological Evaluations will be required for proposals related to or impacting on the setting of heritage assets and/or known or possible archaeological sites, so that sufficient information is provided to assess the impacts of development on historic environment assets together with any proposed mitigation measures.

Emerging Policy - DM 16 Historic Environment

Development will not be permitted that will adversely affect a listed building, a conservation area, historic park or garden or important archaeological remains (including development that adversely affects the setting of heritage assets).

Development affecting the historic environment should seek to conserve and enhance the significance of the heritage asset and any features of specific historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic interest. In all cases there will be an expectation that any new development will enhance the historic environment or better reveal the significance of the heritage asset, in the first instance, unless there are no identifiable opportunities available. In instances where existing features have a negative impact on the historic environment, as identified through character appraisals, the Local Planning Authority will request the removal of the features that undermine the historic environment as part of any proposed development. The Local Planning Authority will request the provision of creative and accessible interpretations of heritage assets impacted by development.

Conservation of the historic environment will also be ensured by:
i. Identifying, characterising, protecting and enhancing Conservation Areas;
ii. Protection and enhancement of existing buildings and built areas which do not have Listed Building or Conservation Area status but have a particular local importance or character which it is desirable to keep. Such buildings or groups of buildings will be identified through a Local List which will be adopted by the Council;
iii. Preserving and enhancing Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments, Historic Parks and Gardens, including their respective settings, and other features which contribute to the heritage of the Borough; and
iv. Sites of archaeological interest will be clearly identified and protected, and sites that become known, whether through formal evaluation as part of a Planning Application or otherwise, will similarly be protected according to their importance.

Heritage Statements and/or Archaeological Evaluations will be required for proposals related to or impacting on the setting of heritage assets and/or known or possible archaeological sites, and where there is potential for encountering archaeological sites so that sufficient information is provided to assess the significance of the heritage assets and to assess the impacts of development on historic assets together with any proposed mitigation measures.

Attached Files for this Submission


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