Cotswold District is blessed with a beautiful natural environment - but not with a generous (or even adequate) housing land supply. A Secretary of State decision published today (actually there are 2 such decisions but the link takes you to the more significant in terms of numbers) grapples with the very difficult question of what do you do in cases where housing land supply is low, and to a large extent the only place to go is land which has a special designation.
In this case, the appeal site was in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) - but much of Cotswold District is AONB. This fact, coupled with the very pressing need for market and affordable housing, locally and nationally, satisfied the Secretary of State that there were exceptional circumstances for allowing the appeal.
The decision will be seen by many as an indication that the application of the national planning policy framework will have the effect of allowing more development in designated areas such as AONBs and Green Belt. It is in those areas where a combination of factors will often lead to very difficult choices having to be made.
Towns and cities with closely guarded green belts will be looking at this decision with a good deal of interest since the arguments on exceptional circumstances can be equally applicable there.