Kent homes refused against planning inspector’s advice

The housing secretary has refused permission for a 165-home Berkeley Homes scheme in Kent despite a planning inspector recommending it be given the green light.

The firm had planned to build the homes in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the Crane Valley, near Tunbridge Wells, along with car parking and landscaping.

The homes would have been a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, and houses ranging from two to five bedrooms, in mainly two-storey buildings.


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Housing secretary Michael Gove said the designs of the new homes were ‘not good enough’

Housing secretary Michael Gove called in the scheme in April 2021, and following a public inquiry in September that year, a planning inspector recommended the scheme go ahead.

The inspector said it would deliver a “package of exceptional benefits” including 40% affordable housing, landscape enhancements with limited associated harm and biodiversity enhancements.

But a decision notice issued by the government said Gove disagreed and added: “While he [Gove] agrees with the inspector that the proposed development would deliver landscape enhancements he does not find the proposal to be of a high standard which has evolved through thoughtful regard to its context.

“Overall, he does not find that the scheme is sensitively designed having regard to its setting.”

The letter said Gove had concluded there were no exceptional circumstances which justified the development, adding there were no factors which suggested granting permission was in the public interest.

Berkeley Homes declined to comment.