A couple’s bid to build a three-bedroom house at a rural Herefordshire property has been rejected by a government inspector, highlighting how hard it is to build new housing even on brownfield sites in the countryside.

Mr and Mrs R Tomkins planned an L-shaped, one-and-a-half storey house, with solar panels on its pitched roof, upper-floor dormer windows and walls of brick, render and weatherboard cladding, at Nellies Oak, Dinedor southeast of Hereford.

To make room, two sheds and a yard were to be cleared at the site, on which business rates have been paid since 2007.


In June 2021, Herefordshire Council planning inspectors refused permission on the grounds that a new residential development in open countryside was against county and national policy, nor was it supported by the Dinedor neighbourhood plan.

The couple would also have had to prove their plan would not negatively affect the nearby river Wye special area of conservation (SAC) – an issue which for some years has served as a block on development in the area.

The Tomkinses appealed against this decision. But now planning inspector Bhupinder Thandi has backed the council’s refusal, concluding that the site was in open countryside beyond the defined settlement boundary of the village, and that walking or cycling to and from local services “would be extremely difficult”.

He acknowledged the couple had addressed concerns expressed by the council’s ecologist over the presence of otters in the area, one of the reasons for the river’s SAC designation.

But he did not pursue this or the issue of the possible wider impact on the river, “as I have found that the site would not be an appropriate location for housing, which is significant enough to dismiss the appeal”.

In 2014, plans for a four-bedroom house and three-bedroom bungalow on the site were refused, and later also dismissed at appeal.

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