Court of Appeal determines long-standing case involving a Grade I Listed Building

2 October 2018

A long-standing case in relation to the interpretation of the "setting" of a Listed Building has been determined in the Court of Appeal

The original Appeal Inspector allowed up to 400 houses in Derbyshire, near Grade I Listed Kedleston Hall, and its registered park and garden. He allowed the appeals against Amber Valley Borough Council after concluding that there would be no impact on the setting of the Hall due to the existence of a hedge (known as the Derby Screen) preventing the views between the Hall and the proposed development site.

Mrs Justice Lang in the High Court upheld a challenge to the Inspector’s decision by Historic England and ruled that the definition of what constituted the setting of a heritage asset had been too narrowly constructed. In her opinion the Inspector had concentrated only on the visual and physical effects ignoring the historical, social and economic facts that were outlined under section 66 of the Planning Act (1990). She argued that the Inspector had received evidence from Historic England, the National Trust and others that the appeal site was part of the setting of the Hall because it had formed part of the estate managed historically as a social and economic entity – It remained part of the agricultural use and therefore retained a close historic association with the Hall.

Lord Justice Lindblom in the Court of Appeal agreed that the setting of a heritage asset was not statutorily defined. However, it was implicit in section 66 of the Planning Act (1990) that the setting could be affected by development, whether within or outside it. The decision maker was required to determine what the setting was and then apply a planning judgement as to the potential impact thereon. Lord Justice Lindblom ruled that the inspector had not just concentrated on visual and physical effects to the exclusion of all else, but was aware of the need to consider the historic value of the hall and parkland. Rather he had concluded that the historical connection by itself was insufficient. The High Court ruling was quashed and the Inspector’s decision was re-instated.

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