‘Deeply upsetting’ decision as Hatfield Peverel housing schemes are backed

Hatfield Peverel is set to grow by several hundred homes (pic Google Earth)

It’s been one of the most high-profile battles against unnecessary development Essex has seen over the past couple of years, but that wasn’t enough to stop plans for 340 new homes in Hatfield Peverel being approved by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The news that James Brokenshire had granted planning permission for three separate schemes – for 140 homes, 120 homes and 80 homes – came as a bitter blow to those who had fought a long and difficult campaign against schemes that threatened to overwhelm the village.
Land agent Gladman Developments Ltd was responsible for the 140- and 80-home applications, while David Wilson Homes Eastern was behind the 120-home application.
The 140-home and 120-home applications had been called in, while the 80-home scheme was a recovered appeal. All three targeted agricultural sites and proposed a 40 per cent affordable housing contribution.
Mr Brokenshire’s decision to approve them followed an inspector’s recommendation and was made on the basis that the local planning authority, Braintree District Council, was unable to demonstrate a five-year housing supply.
CPRE Essex vice-chairman Tricia Moxey said: “The team at Hatfield Peverel had worked incredibly hard and this decision is deeply upsetting for everyone involved.
“These sites are outside the village envelope in the Neighbourhood Plan, while work had already started on a brownfield site that would have catered for the village’s foreseeable needs.
“There are serious implications for infrastructure, especially relating to education, water and sewerage.”
The case was featured on BBC’s Countryfile when the TV cameras were in the village, which lies 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.
Tom Fyans, CPRE deputy chief executive, was also present and quoted in the piece.
Mr Brokenshire’s decision letters noted that none of the applications were in accordance with the adopted Local Development Plan, comprising the 2005 Braintree District Council Local Plan Review and the 2011 Braintree District Core Strategy.
Braintree is working with Colchester and Tendring councils on proposals informing separate plans for each authority area, but last year an inspector advised they were “unsound” and needed further work. The councils are still working on their proposals, with examination possibly taking place next year.
The delay in proceedings led Mr Brokenshire to advise that only limited weight could be given to the emerging Braintree New Local Plan. Further, he dismissed Braintree’s statement, made in April this year, that it could demonstrate a 5.29-year housing-land supply; rather, he considered the true supply to be 4.15 years.
He said: “The authority is not able to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land, therefore the presumption in favour of sustainable development applies.”
Although none of the three applications were in line with the Local Development Plan, Mr Brokenshire’s decision was weighted by the “housing benefits of the proposal”.
“There are material considerations that indicate that the proposal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan,” he concluded.
The recovered appeal application had been dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate in July 2017, but its decision was quashed by the High Court in September of the same year and has now been redetermined by Mr Brokenshire after a new inquiry.

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Monday, July 15, 2019