Although the planning application related to a gypsy site including the resting of a replacement caravan and a new dayroom was refused, issues relating to heritage matters were raised at the opening of an earlier informal hearing. Matters were adjourned and Murphy Associates were appointed to examine the heritage issues including setting of a Grade II* listed building and its former associated parkland. Heritage issues did not form part of the reasons for refusal.
Eimear Murphy was appointed to assess these issues and was called to present evidence at Public Inquiry earlier this year in respect of the impact of a gypsy site on the edge of the non-designated heritage asset of St. Leonard's Park - if it caused harm to the setting of the listed St. Leonard's Park House and character of the parkland.
Murphy's heritage evidence and opinion was informed by having fully researched the historical development of the former deer park and its association with the estate dwelling. Map regression clearly demonstrated that relationships had changed over time and the parkland had different functions. It was also demonstrated that the private and immediate gardens to the house were consistently screened from the wider park.
As well as considering the relationship between the appeal site, the listed building and setting, the Inspector considered the evidence of Murphy Associates on inter visibility and that of Nicola Brown, a Landscape Architect with David Huskisson Associates who's evidence was referred to as being comprehensive.
The Inspector agreed that the 'the appeal site could be considered to lie within the former historic setting of St. Leonard's Park House' but that 'this setting' had been 'altered and reduced to the extent that the site now lies beyond the limit where the low key nature of the proposed development would make any appreciable difference to the current setting, which would consequently be preserved.'
The Inspector also considered that the site 'would not cause unacceptable harm to the character of the historic park ' - a non designated heritage asset. Although it was found that there would be harm to the landscape character of the AONB it was considered that the harm would be outweighed by the other material considerations.
The Appeal was allowed. Partial Costs were awarded to the applicant against the Council.
The decision can be viewed at: http://public-access.horsham.gov.uk/public-access/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=externalDocuments&keyVal=L99BG8IJ09F00