Published: Thursday, 10th March 2016
Mixed fortunes for two significant housing schemes, both the subject of recovered planning appeals determined by Communities secretary Greg Clark recently.
One involved proposals for up to 220 new homes, 66 of which would be affordable, and the provision of new playing fields on land at Loose near Maidstone, Kent next to the campus of the New Line Learning Academy which also included a free school, the Tiger Primary School and a special needs school run by the county council which was involved in the application.
The project was originally refused by the borough council on the grounds of lack affordable housing and impact on an area of ancient woodland. Subsequently the planning authority withdrew those objections. At the hearing the council could only point to a 2.1 year supply of housing land. The planning inspector who held the inquiry recommended the appeal should be dismissed and the SoS agreed.
Clark’s decision letter refusing the scheme acknowledged the housing benefits of the proposals but agreed with the inspector that the design of much of the scheme was “cramped, unrelieved and somewhat anonymous”. It was also in conflict with the development plan and posed significant traffic and safety issues for the local highways network.
The other set of proposals involved plans for around 180 new homes on two sites at Buntingford which the local planning authority, East Hertfordshire District Council, had failed to determine within the prescribed time. The inspector recommended the appeals should be allowed and Clark agreed.
His decision letter agreed with the inspector that the proposals would be sustainable developments and provide both market and affordable housing in an area with a significant under-supply of homes. Clark acknowledged the loss of 14 hectares of the best and most versatile agricultural land and the fact that the schemes were in conflict with local development policies, albeit ones which were mainly out of date.