Hatfield Peverel in the spotlight as BBC camera crews visit
Essex took centre stage when BBC’s Countryfile visited Hatfield Peverel.
The TV cameras were in the village, close to the A12 between Chelmsford and Witham, for a feature on land agents that look to exploit planning loopholes and force through housing developments outside adopted Local Plans and against residents’ wishes.
National attention focused on the village after a press release from CPRE Essex highlighted plans by Gladman Developments Ltd for 140 homes to be built on Stonepath Meadow.
Much of Gladman’s approach entails working at the minutiae of local authorities’ five-year land supply, arguing that they are not providing the new housing demanded of them by central.
Gladman does not build the homes itself. Rather, it seeks to win planning permission allowing developers to put up developments not planned for by local councils.
Unsurprisngly, this has led to conflicts across the country, with many cases going to public inquiry, as the proposal at Hatfield Peverel has done.
The company’s website says: “Gladman is the UK’s most successful land promoter with an unrivalled success rate of over 90%…
“We have achieved planning permission for over 10,000 new homes and have secured planning permission on over 60 sites in the last year.”
The phenomenon of speculative land agents is one of the most taxing issues facing local authorities and countryside campaigners up and down the country.
Tom Fyans, CPRE’s director of campaigns and policy, was in Hatfield Peverel for the visit of the BBC. He said: “We are deeply concerned at the stress and impact this sort of speculative behaviour is having on our countryside, wildlife and on rural communities – land promoters actively work against local wishes for the sake of their own profit.
“Changes must be made to close these loopholes in national planning policy to ensure the planning system drives developments that are needed and welcomed by local authorities.”
Tricia Moxey, vice-chairman of CPRE Essex, added: “That this particular case was called in indicates concerns over this problem in Hatfield Peverel, where potential developers are abusing the national planning system, are failing to respect the wishes of the local community and appear intent to build on valuable and irreplaceable countryside.”
The good (and bad) folk of Hatfield Peverel might feel a little under siege at the moment as Gladman’s plans for Stonepath Meadow are accompanied by proposals for two other housing developments in the village.
The final decision on all three schemes is awaited.