Reland, the commercial and mixed-use development and investment arm of Gladedale Group, the major house building and property development, has been successful in its appeal against Cotswold District Council to develop the 70.3ha site at RAF Little Rissington.

The appeal, led by one of the UK’s leading planning barristers, Jeremy Cahill QC from No5 Chambers, overcame a series of issues in what the Planning Inspectorate described as finely balanced arguments. 

These included the site’s remote location within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and its effect on the character and visual amenities; national, regional and local policy guidelines for sustainable development in rural areas; community needs and services.

The proposal retained some of the former historic military buildings for residential or employment purpose, but the majority of buildings would be demolished to provide 368 homes including 78 units of affordable housing, in addition to a primary school, health care provision, new community facilities, retail, offices and light industrial use.

Jeremy Cahill QC who spearheaded the appeal submission said the case was a complete one-off as it overcame aspects of the Cotswold District Local Plan which lacked a five year housing land supply. “This success emphasises the importance of treating every planning application on its individual merits, rather than the local plan, which caters for the normal, rather than the abnormal.

“The Reland proposals not only dealt with the historic aspects of the site in terms of addressing a World War II legacy, but also improved the AONB, with the proposed removal of four enormous 85m long disused aircraft hangars ,which currently dominate the countryside’s skyline. 

“We also had the welcomed support of the local parish council and two vicars, in view of proposed new school and health care facilities, as well as new sewer and water lines, providing upgraded and essential infrastructure services into the village”, he added.

The Inspector’s decision notice (dated 25 February 2010) contained interesting observations in contrast to the existing development on the appeal site. Elizabeth Fieldhouse, Inspector, stated that in her opinion the proposal would conserve and could enhance the character and visual amenities of this part of the ANOB.

The Environmental Statement submitted also demonstrated that the ecological values of the site would be conserved and enhanced to maintain biodiversity and protect existing natural habitats. Whilst 45% of the trees would be lost, the visual impact would be minimised by the overall reduction in the height of the development and extensive boundary planting, thereby enhancing the character and visual amenities of this part of the ANOB. 

Other key success factors reflected in the proposal was the 21% reduction in its original footprint and 44% reduction in the volume of existing built form.