PROTESTERS battling a controversial bid for 140 new houses in Uttoxeter were celebrating today after their voices were heard by planners who rejected the proposals.
East Staffordshire Borough Council’s planning committee turned down plans for residential development on Roycroft Farm, in Bramshall Road – submitted by Gleeson Development Limited – to a round of cheers from the public gallery after deciding it would have an adverse impact on the visual amenities enjoyed by the people of Uttoxeter.
Councillors were recommended to approve the outline application by planning officer Jonathan Imber despite 3,000 people signing the Picknall Valley Preservation Group’s petition against the homes.
One of the objectors Graham Paskett told the meeting: “Land at Roycroft Farm has never been in the local plan and this application fails to meet any one of the three material planning considerations of which at least one must be met in order for an application to be passed.
“The only reason it is being discussed is because of a legal loophole allowing speculative housing applications where a local authority does not have the necessary five-year housing supply under the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.
“The borough council say that 1,506 houses are scheduled to be built within the next five years at JCB, Pennycroft, St Modwen, Brookside and Hazelwalls and yet they dismiss 489 of them, that is more than 30 per cent as not being deliverable within those five years.”
Peter Coffin also spoke out against the plans saying that the majority of Uttoxeter is against them and localism needs to be considered when deciding this application.
He said: “We all accept that Uttoxeter has to expand but please not to the detriment of existing residents. The proposal will build houses right next door to Bramshall Park and will destroy it not only for residents but for future generations.”
Steve Simmods also asked the councillors to refuse the plans said the development is unsuitable and would have an detrimental impact on the landscape.
Defending the plans, agent John Acres said: “This is a good and sustainable residential site that would bring huge benefit to Uttoxeter. There have been no objections from Staffordshire bodies and the site is not constrained by any landscaping destination.
“There should be no objections on principle and with 2,500 new jobs by JCB, which is a good news story for Uttoxeter, those people will need to live somewhere local and soon.”
Barry Chinn, representing Gleeson, added it was a key opportunity and the layout had been designed to soften the existing layout.
However, after listening to all of the arguments councillors also raised concerns about the effect it will have on the countryside and questioned whether this constituted sustainable development.
It was also raised that the site was not of the borough council’s local plan and there was no indication on whether the work would be completed in the next five years.
Councillor Nathan Birnie said: “This is an extremely beautiful site and I don’t understand how they can fit up to 140 houses on it. It would be like putting a Labrador in a rabbit cage.”
Councillor Greg Hall added: “I believe if we refuse this application we will have grounds for refusal.”
Speaking on behalf of his constituents, Councillor Andrew Riley said: “As many of us know we have already been granted permission for more than 1,500 additional homes. I have been contacted by my electorate and more than 2,500 people have signed a petition against this as well as Uttoxeter Town Council.
“There was a similar scheme 25 years ago and that was rejected as it was dangerous. There is no traffic analysis to support this plan. 140 homes will only make traffic congestion in Uttoxeter worse.”
After a lengthy discussion, the committee decided there was an over provision of land and housing supply in Uttoxeter and the town has already accepted considerable growth, therefore rejecting the plans.