On 9 April 2020, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government dismissed an appeal against the refusal of planning permission by South Cambridgeshire District Council for a large business park proposed for the Agri-tech sector on open farmland near Hinxton. The scheme was promoted as an opportunity to provide a substantial amount - 112,000 sq.m. - of new floorspace for businesses involved in the development of technology in the agricultural sector, thereby building on the cluster already present in and around Cambridge. Following a lengthy public inquiry, the Inspector found that the development would cause substantial harm to the landscape and to the visual environment, which would not be mitigated by the measures proposed. The Inspector also found harm to various heritage assets. Some economic benefits were acknowledged but, given the absence of identified occupiers and the substantial availability of allocated employment land in the District, these benefits did not outweigh the harm caused. The Inspector also found that it was not possible confidently to restrict the use and occupation of the proposed floorspace to the Agritech sector, and therefore the benefits relied upon could not be secured. The Secretary of State accepted the Inspector’s recommendation and refused planning permission accordingly.
Douglas Edwards QC