2017 to present




Dandara Limited


Urban Design, Landscape and later Planning/Landscape/Design Expert Witness


Collaboration, Masterplanning, Outline Application for including Design and Access Statement & Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, Detailed Application, Evidence

Within this highly sensitive landscape Define were engaged by Dandara Ltd to coordinate and shape a bespoke form of development that responds positively to the rich and sensitive landscape context of the High Weald AONB, specifically views towards the site from outside the built up area of the AONB. 

The scheme evolved through an exemplary process of collaboration with the LPA, AONB Board, Local Stakeholders which resulted in a high quality bespoke scheme with a significant new open meadow space linking to key public footpaths, an ecologically sensitive area enhancing protected species habitat, a bespoke farmstead, reinstatement of historic route along a new ‘Lane’.

The Initial scheme gained full officer design support, and support from the High Weald AONB Board however was refused by the committee due to off-site highway matters. Despite this set back the site was promoted by the council for allocation in the emerging Local Plan.

A second scheme was prepared in collaboration with the LPA who promoted the cohesive development of the site with a neighbouring piece of land currently in the planning process. This land provided an additional woodland area, a new access and some additional dwellings which benefited from the same high quality design prepared for the first application, but in a full detailed planning application. Despite again receiving full officer support, and full support for the allocation of the site, the scheme was refused by the committee on AONB and Traffic Grounds. Notably, the local authorities support for the allocation relies on what has been considered by them to be an ‘exemplary, landscape-led’ design process that sets ‘a benchmark for future AONB applications’.

The site has recently gained permission through appeal (decision ref 3282908). Represented by Define at a Planning Inquiry in January 2022 (planning, urban design and landscape), the Inspector found that whilst the scheme would cause some harm to the AONB this was ‘reduced notably by the quality of the design’. Overall, exceptional circumstances were found to exist, the scheme is in the public interest and complies with the development plan as a whole. Importantly, the Inspector recognised the importance of good design as part of this balancing:

‘I am of the view that the fact that the harm has been moderated to a significant degree through good design and does not go, in my view, any or much further than what the Council accept is inevitable from the development of a greenfield site in the AONB, to be a very important consideration’.

Project team