Friday 27 June 2014

New Ridley: End of the road...

I was deeply disappointed by the about turn of the council last week when it approved the development in New Ridley. I thought we had a really good case for the following reasons.

First, the application last year was refused and it is incumbent on the council to be consistent in its decision making. Second, the new application, whilst being six units smaller, was not materially different from last year and so the original reasons for refusal still stood. You will recall that the size of the development was not given as one of the reasons for refusing the first application.

However, as the meeting progressed it became clear that different thinking was now being employed. From what I can ascertain, the council is now all too acutely aware that 80% of refused decisions that go to appeal are overturned and this can result in extra costs being awarded against the council. Second, the 5-year housing supply is seen to be inadequate and this issue took greater importance in the decision making this year, especially given the current council’s express intention to increase house building (based on projections that are, in my opinion, wholly unrealistic).  I was annoyed that the planning officer also implied that the current definitions of a sustainable development were not what they ought to be. My feeling is that the definition as laid down is the one that should be adhered to and it is not the officer’s place to persuade the committee that the rule should be relaxed.

Today I received a copy of the planning permission notification given to the developer and the development is subject to thirteen conditions which you can read in full in the decision notice.

I said in my election address back in April last year that I would fight to protect our greenbelt. Although I did not win, I wanted to see this matter through to its conclusion. I am sad that we could not have achieved the outcome that was right for our area, but this was in no part attributable to all those who did their bit to oppose this development. I would like to make special mention of Michael Easey and Janice both of whom put up excellent rebuttals to the development at the two planning meetings. The parish council will also be making its views on this decision known to the county council. There is one very small consolation in that Esh have withdrawn their appeal of the 22-house development.

It was a privilege to work alongside you all in standing up for the community. While this is the end of this episode, there will doubtless be other developments in the future that will need careful consideration, especially the proposal by Allendale Estates to build on the land opposite Broomley First School.

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