11:27AM, Friday 20 December 2019
The planning inspectorate has dismissed an appeal and refused planning permission for a 150-home development in Holyport.
The decision follows a public planning inquiry into proposals for greenbelt land at Lodge Farm in Ascot Road, submitted by Beaulieu Homes Southern Limited in December 2017.
The plans included a doctor’s surgery, a community park, open space, two grass football pitches, allotments and a community building.
The inquiry was prompted after the developer made an appeal against the Royal Borough for failing to give notice of a decision within the prescribed period.
A four-day inquiry into the outline proposal took place from October 22-25 at the Holiday Inn in Manor Lane.
It was overseen by Christopher Butler, a planning inspector who published his decision in a 19-page report on Monday.
In the report, Mr Butler said ‘the fundamental aim of the greenbelt policy is to prevent urban sprawl’, which he added the Lodge Farm site plays an ‘important role in protecting’.
Mr Butler said the appellant has the opinion that the development’s encroachment into the countryside would be ‘relatively limited’ due to the fact that about 78 per cent of the 21.75 hectare site would be green space.
But he did ‘not agree with this argument as the development would still encroach’ and would ‘considerably diminish the rural spaciousness and character currently provided by the site’.
Mr Butler also concluded in his report that the benefits of the scheme, including a community park, allotments, and economic benefits, do not outweigh the harm to the greenbelt or the Holyport Conservation area.
Bray parish councillor Louvaine Kneen, said the decision was 'an excellent early Christmas present for the village of Holyport'.
She said: "I would like to say thank you to all residents that wrote in objecting to this application, three times in total, all the effort was worth it in the end, plus also a thank you to Peter Lerner who I worked with on behalf of Bray Parish Council on the Appeal, his valuable work and guidance was much appreciated."
Cllr Leo Walters (Con, Bray), who gave evidence at the appeal, said: “This is a massive victory for the protection of the greenbelt in the Royal Borough, for the residents of Holyport and for common sense itself.”
Lead member for planning and Maidenhead, Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray) said: “The decision has been the result of a combined effort by many parties including RBWM's planners, Bray Parish Council, Holyport Preservation Society, Holyport Residents Association and others and will be welcomed by all.
“As a resident of Holyport I thank everyone of them.
“I am pleased that the inspector upheld the primary reason for refusal relating to harm to the greenbelt and conservation area. This was an excellent outcome for the borough and its residents .
“It was common ground between all parties at the time of the original decision and appeal that the council could not demonstrate a five-year housing land supply and the inspector found that this weighed significantly in favour of the development, though the more limited extent of the shortfall meant that we won the appeal.
“This does however highlight the importance of the emerging Borough Local Plan to meet our targets and ensure we can avoid unsuitable unplanned development in our greenbelt in the future.”
Craig Killoran, on behalf of Beaulieu Homes Southern Limited, said he is ‘not entirely surprised at the outcome’.
He said there were three different inspectors involved before the inquiry began and described ‘a lot of political opposition’, including from Theresa May MP and former council leader Simon Dudley.
He criticised the disappearance of the site from the draft local plan after it was ‘selected to be released for housing in January 2014’ and the decision to increase the conservation area in order to protect a medieval moat.
Mr Killoran believes this ‘helped the council win the appeal’.
He added: “We won the two major arguments on the lack of a five-year housing supply and their even worse affordable housing delivery of only 55 homes over the last three years.
“Our site would have delivered 45 much needed affordable homes for local people on the waiting list.
“I think they got lucky this time with the inspector’s view.
“We are currently taking legal advice regarding the decision.”
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