Daniel Stedman Jones and Celia Reynolds successfully defend refusal of urban extension in northern Milton Keynes

In August 2021, Milton Keynes City Council refused planning permission for the proposed development of 277 extra care apartments, a care home, 41 retirement bungalows, and up to 196 homes on a site located outside the settlement boundary with local landscape and biodiversity value. In exchange for the residential element of the scheme, the Appellants proposed to give 68.65 ha to the Parks Trust for the development of a Linear Park. The Scheme promised long term ecology and landscape gains and the delivery of a biodiversity net gain of 24.73%.

Daniel Stedman Jones and Celia Reynolds represented Milton Keynes Council, which refused the application on the basis of conflict with the Council's spatial strategy, harm to landscape and ecology and a number of other wide-ranging conflicts with the development plan.

The Inspector’s decision, published 19 January 2024, dismissed the appeal. The Council successfully defended challenges to the local plan and spatial strategy as out-of-date. The Inspector likewise rejected the Appellant’s submission that there was an undersupply of C2 bedspaces and C3 housing to meet the forecasted demand for nursing home and elderly accommodation [48].

On landscape, the Inspector accepted the Council’s submissions that the site was located within ‘valued landscape’ despite lacking a national designation [23-24], and that the scheme would have a “major detrimental impact” on the valued landscape of the Ouse Valley floor [30].

On biodiversity net gain (BNG), the Inspector likewise accepted the Council's submissions that errors in the calculation meant that the gain claimed should be accorded less weight [40], that the BNG calculation relates only to habitat and the impact on wildlife needed to be considered separately [41], that the impact on wildlife would nevertheless be harmful [41-42], and concluded that "notwithstanding the enhancement that [had] been planned for the linear park element of the site… the scheme when taken as a whole would have a harmful impact on the nature conservation value of the site and wider area" [45]. 

The full decision is available here.