You may have heard that the planning appeal against DDC’s rejection of the first Gladman application has been allowed. This means that the planning inspector has ruled that development should take place on land off New Street.
Why does he think it’s a good idea?
I’ve tried to summarise the main points in the report but please forgive any errors or omissions:
The effect on the character and appearance of the area
- Landscaping could screen the housing from the bridleway thus preserving its rural setting
- The development would be against policies restricting development outside of the village boundary BUT the inspector considered those policies are old and do not comply with the National Planning Policy’s aim of boosting significantly the supply of housing.
- The fact that Daventry District Council has yet to publish targets for rural development means that any policies in the new Joint Core Strategy (JCS) have been given little weight.
Preserving the setting of nearby listed buildings
- Mullions (Oak Street) has recently been extended and the extension obscures most of the view of the development site and hardly any of the original house can now be seen from the development site. The inspectors view is that the value of the house is not its setting but the material and features of the building itself.
- The ordnance depot was not considered to have an important relationship with open countryside and the views of the depot would not be affected when observed from Farthingstone Road.
The effects on the open field (ridge and furrow)
- No substantial weight was given to this because examples of Ridge & Furrow exist elsewhere in the country.
Can the Council demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply?
- Yes but the general message is “only just” and that due to slow delivery in recent years, the New Street development will help them to meet their targets in future.
Integration and accessibility of the site
- Alternative footpaths other than New Street could be accessed via Oak Street if pavements were a concern
Highway safety and the flow of traffic
- Parking on the pavement is not an offence unless it causes obstruction to the footway.
- There are no parking restrictions or traffic regulation orders banning parking on New Street so not all avenues have been explored to resolve the existing problems.
- The proposed double mini-roundabouts would alter the approaches to the crossroads to improve visibility and reduce traffic speeds.
- More traffic will lead to increased conflict on New Street but the problems exist already, they will not be caused by new development.
- Residents “fear” is not given much weight in the absence of evidence (traffic surveys, accident reports etc.)
- Residents of the new development will be offered travel vouchers to encourage the use of public transport rather than private car.
Does the covenant prevent building on part of the site?
- It doesn’t matter, the inspector points out that it is not a planning matter.
What about the School and Doctors surgery?
- It is agreed that the Primary School is at capacity and contributions from the development will be required to increase capacity.
- Additional parking spaces will be provided, if this is declined no other contribution is likely to be required.
Do the benefits outweigh any harm which might be caused?
- Substantial weight was given to the fact that the site could be delivered in a relatively short timeframe whereas conflicts with local planning regulations were given little to moderate weight. Therefore there are more benefits than harm.
Do the proposals amount to sustainable development?
- Yes and therefore the appeal and development are allowed.
So what now?
Well, we’re disappointed! I believe that it’s unlikely that we’ll see any further challenge to this decision because unless I’m wrong, there seem to be only two very limited options:
Application to the High Court on a point of law
- We will know if DDC take this route within six weeks and it can require significant legal costs and of course, if they lose they’ll have to pay Gladman’s costs too (like the appeal)
Request a Judicial review
- We’ll know if this is requested within three months and DDC would need to be able to show that the inspector made an irrational decision or that there was some procedural irregularity.
What next for the development?
Gladman will now look for one or more developers to purchase the land with its outline planning permission and increased price tag. Their job will then be complete and they’ll move on to their next strategic acquisition.
We’ll then see detailed planning applications submitted for the site which show the layout etc. and the aim for a developer will be to probably complete over the next 5 to 8 years (it could be a shorter or longer timescale).
And what next for the Action Group?
We’ve put our heart and soul into fighting this development and we believe that there’s very little that our exhausted minds can do to contribute to any future process preventing development on this site.
The Parish Council will post details of any planning applications for the New Street site on their Facebook page, website and in the village news. You’ll have the opportunity to comment on those once they surface (remember that the objections will now need to be about the development itself, not the viability or suitability of New Street for development).
So if we hear that there’s not going to be any further challenge against this development, we’ll be retiring the Action Group and related social media accounts (Facebook, twitter & Pinterest). The website will stay online for a short time but will close later this year.
I posted this part on Facebook so feel free to stop reading now!
Whether you were anti or pro-development off New Street, we’re very proud to have seen a very lively, active and interesting debate and the fight against the development has been a prime example of how the sense of community spirit is alive and well in our village.
The Neighbourhood Planning process in Weedon continues despite these houses being approved and it will be revised based on your feedback and comments on the draft plan… remember it’s not all about housing! So please continue to show your support and join the Facebook group.
There are too many people to thank individually, so many of you have contributed in differing ways. We’re very upset that we didn’t get a better outcome for our village but we couldn’t have done any more and it’s all down to you. So I’ll leave you with a great big heartfelt THANK YOU.
Dale & the rest of the Action Group.