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Planning Take 3

September 25, 2020 3:59 PM
By Dave Busby

There is a site near the ski slope in Wherstead, alongside the A137, known as Klondyke Field. You may think that there is gold in this hill and you would be right - gold for the developer Bellway Homes. If there was ever a better example of profit over design then I would like to see it.

Take 1 was when it came forward a few years ago when under the ownership of Pigeons. The outline application came with an indicative layout which was acceptable to the parish, planners and councillors. The site was duly sold with said planning approval.

Take 2 a couple of years later (August 2020) and the full planning application was presented to the planning committee. Running alongside the backs of the homes on Bourne Hill were a string of 4-bedroom detached houses. This was a surprise as the outline application had shown all bungalows - which are much in demand and were sympathetic to views from the existing houses. The committee did not like this change and deferred making a decision and sent the application back to the developer to think again.

Take 3 a month later and the planning committee met again to see what changes had been made to the mix of houses - NONE. So, despite the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) saying that we should set clear expectations for the quality of the development and ensure that the variety of homes should meet the needs of the community AND the SHMA (Strategic Housing Market Association) saying that 46% of market housing should be 1 or 2 bedroom and this development has over 90% of 3 or 4 bedroom AND the JLP ( Joint Local Plan) showing that over 65% of housing will be occupied by single people or couples with no children AND the Planning Committee extoling the need for 2 bedroom bungalows AND the developer not having undertaken a local needs survey they ignored all of this and stuck with their original plans.

More worryingly, if we had refused the application the inspector would likely to have overruled our concerns over the mix and allowed the developer to proceed with their plans. Hopefully this has prompted a change in procedures amongst the planning officers to ensure that the housing mix is determined in all outline planning permissions so that we don't face this issue again. We wait with baited breath.