Barnwell Manor Wind Energy Ltd v East Northamptonshire District Council and Others

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLady Justice Rafferty,Lord Justice Sullivan
Judgment Date18 February 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] EWCA Civ 137
Docket NumberCase No: C1/2013/0843
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
Date18 February 2014
Barnwell Manor Wind Energy Limited
(1) East Northamptonshire District Council
(2) English Heritage
(3) National Trust
(4) The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Neutral Citation Number: [2014] EWCA Civ 137


Lord Justice Maurice Kay


Lord Justice Sullivan


Lady Justice Rafferty

Case No: C1/2013/0843







Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Gordon Nardell QC and Justine Thornton (instructed by Eversheds LLP) for the Appellant

Morag Ellis QC and Robin Green (instructed by Sharpe Pritchard) for the First, Second and Third Respondents

The Fourth Respondent did not appear and was not represented

Lord Justice Sullivan



This is an appeal against the order dated 11 th March 2013 of Lang J quashing the decision dated 12 th March 2012 of a Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State granting planning permission for a four-turbine wind farm on land north of Catshead Woods, Sudborough, Northamptonshire. The background to the appeal is set out in Lang J's judgment: [2013] EWHC 473 (Admin).

Section 66


Section 66 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ("the Listed Buildings Act") imposes a "General duty as respects listed buildings in exercise of planning functions." Subsection (1) provides:

"In considering whether to grant planning permission for development which affects a listed building or its setting, the local planning authority or, as the case may be, the Secretary of State shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses."

Planning Policy


When the permission was granted the Government's planning policies on the conservation of the historic environment were contained in Planning Policy Statement 5 (PPS5). In PPS5 those parts of the historic environment that have significance because of their historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic interest are called heritage assets. Listed buildings, Scheduled Ancient Monuments and Registered Parks and Gardens are called "designated heritage assets." Guidance to help practitioners implement the policies in PPS5 was contained in "PPS5 Planning for the Historic Environment: Historic Environment Planning Practice Guide" ("the Practice Guide"). For present purposes, Policies HE9 and HE10 in PPS5 are of particular relevance. Policy HE9.1 advised that:

"There should be a presumption in favour of the conservation of designated heritage assets and the more significant the designated heritage asset, the greater the presumption in favour of its conservation should be…. Substantial harm to or loss of a grade II listed building, park or garden should be exceptional. Substantial harm to or loss of designated heritage assets of the highest significance, including scheduled monuments ….grade I and II* listed buildings and grade I and II* registered parks and gardens….should be wholly exceptional."

Policy HE9.4 advised that:

"Where a proposal has a harmful impact on the significance of a designated heritage asset which is less than substantial harm, in all cases local planning authorities should:

(i) weigh the public benefit of the proposal (for example, that it helps to secure the optimum viable use of the heritage asset in the interests of its long-term conservation) against the harm; and

(ii) recognise that the greater the harm to the significance of the heritage asset the greater the justification will be needed for any loss."

Policy HE10.1 advised decision-makers that when considering applications for development that do not preserve those elements of the setting of a heritage asset, they:

"should weigh any such harm against the wider benefits of the application. The greater the negative impact on the significance of the heritage asset, the greater the benefits that will be needed to justify approval."

The Inspector's decision


The Inspector concluded that the wind farm would fall within and affect the setting of a wide range of heritage assets [22] 1. For the purposes of this appeal the parties' submissions largely focussed on one of the most significant of those assets: a site owned by the National Trust, Lyveden New Bield. Lyveden New Bield is covered by a range of heritage designations: Grade I listed building, inclusion in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest at Grade I, and Scheduled Ancient Monument [44].


It was common ground between the parties at the inquiry that the group of designated heritage assets at Lyveden New Bield was probably the finest surviving example of an Elizabethan Garden, and that as a group the heritage asset at Lyveden New Bield had a cultural value of national, if not international significance. The Inspector agreed, and found that:

"…this group of designated heritage assets has archaeological, architectural, artistic and historic significance of the highest magnitude." [45]


The closest turbine in the wind farm site (following the deletion of one turbine) to Lyveden New Bield was around 1.3 km from the boundary of the Registered Park and 1.7 km from the New Bield itself. The Inspector found that:

"The wind turbines proposed would be visible from all around the site, to varying degrees, because of the presence of trees. Their visible presence would have a clear influence on the surroundings in which the heritage assets are experienced and

as such they would fall within, and affect, the setting of the group." [46]

This conclusion led the Inspector to identify the central question, as follows:

"Bearing in mind PPS5 Policy HE7, the central question is the extent to which that visible presence would affect the significance of the heritage assets concerned." [46]


The Inspector answered that question in relation to Lyveden New Bield in paragraphs 47–51 of his decision letter.

"47. While records of Sir Thomas Tresham's intentions for the site are relatively, and unusually, copious, it is not altogether clear to what extent the gardens and the garden lodge were completed and whether the designer considered views out of the garden to be of any particular significance. As a consequence, notwithstanding planting programmes that the National Trust have undertaken in recent times, the experience of Lyveden New Bield as a place, and as a planned landscape, with earthworks, moats and buildings within it, today, requires imagination and interpretation.

48. At the times of my visits, there were limited numbers of visitors and few vehicles entering and leaving the site. I can imagine that at busy times, the situation might be somewhat different but the relative absence of man-made features in views across and out of the gardens compartments, from the prospect mounds especially, and from within the garden lodge, give the place a sense of isolation that makes the use of one's imagination to interpret Sir Thomas Tresham's design intentions somewhat easier.

49. The visible, and sometimes moving, presence of the proposed wind turbine array would introduce a man-made feature, of significant scale, into the experience of the place. The array would act as a distraction that would make it more difficult to understand the place, and the intentions underpinning its design. That would cause harm to the setting of the group of designated heritage assets within it.

50. However, while the array would be readily visible as a backdrop to the garden lodge in some directional views, from the garden lodge itself in views towards it, and from the prospect mounds, from within the moated orchard, and various other places around the site, at a separation distance of between 1 and 2 kilometres, the turbines would not be so close, or fill the field of view to the extent, that they would dominate the outlook from the site. Moreover, the turbine array would not intrude on any obviously intended, planned view out of the garden, or from the garden lodge (which has windows all around its cruciform perimeter). Any reasonable observer would know that the turbine array was a modern addition to the landscape, separate from the planned historic landscape, or building they were within, or considering, or interpreting.

51. On that basis, the presence of the wind turbine array would not be so distracting that it would prevent or make unduly difficult, an understanding, appreciation or interpretation of the significance of the elements that make up Lyveden New Bield and Lyveden Old Bield, or their relationship to each other. As a consequence, the effect on the setting of these designated heritage assets, while clearly detrimental, would not reach the level of substantial harm."


The Inspector carried out "The Balancing Exercise" in paragraphs 85 and 86 of his decision letter.

"85. The proposal would harm the setting of a number of designated heritage assets. However, the harm would in all cases be less than substantial and reduced by its temporary nature and reversibility. The proposal would also cause harm to the landscape but this would be ameliorated by a number of factors. Read in isolation though, all this means that the proposal would fail to accord with [conservation policies in the East Midlands Regional Plan (EMRP)]. On the other hand, having regard to advice in PPS22, the benefits that would accrue from the wind farm in the 25 year period of its operation...

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