Country anger as huge homes plan approved

Countryside campaigners say they are "disgusted" after plans were approved for hundreds of new houses to be built on fields close to Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport, in a development which will fund a new M18 link road.

As part of the planning conditions attached to the development, Peel Investments will have to pay out a huge sum of money to fund the Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme (FARRRS), a new trunk road to link the airport with the motorway, which otherwise would not have had enough funding to go ahead.

Under the outline plans, which have now been agreed by Doncaster Council, Peel will build 750 homes, along with roads, footpaths, landscaped space and play areas, on 46 acres of fields off Hurst Lane in Auckley.

The firm will also have to pay out 50,000 towards the preparation of a transport study, a further 50,000 towards the cost of the "Take off at the Airport" marketing programme, which aims to encourage new businesses to come to Doncaster, and an unspecified "programme of financial contributions" towards the construction of the FARRRS link road.

Peel Investments may also have to pay up to 500,000 towards the cost of providing a new primary school to cater for children living in the new homes.

Members of the Campaign to Protect Rural England South Yorkshire say they are concerned that approving the application for "short-term economic reasons" will set a "dangerous precedent."

Planning officer at the organisation, John King, said: "We're really disappointed with Doncaster's decision.

"These plans are yet another example of the pressure to develop the countryside on the east of Doncaster.

"If this land had been protected by the green belt then it would have been much, much harder to get it approved.

"We need Doncaster's green belt to be extended all the way around the town so that the countryside is safeguarded properly.

"We're against the FARRRS scheme and the massive increase in traffic it would generate.

"So we seriously question the approval of piecemeal developments to fund an unnecessary and damaging scheme."

The organisation says it is also questioning the need for the additional houses to be built at all.

Mr King said: "We know that there are housing targets to be met, and that in these hard economic times people are keen to create jobs.

"But we've looked at the figures and Doncaster has enough sites with planning permission to meet housing targets for nearly the next seven years."

Doncaster Council's planning officers had advised councillors to approve the application prior to Tuesday's committee meeting, saying that although the proposals were a departure from planning guidance, under planning law they do not need to be referred to the Government to be rubber-stamped.

In their report, the town planners advised: "It is recommended that permission be granted for this development, taking into account the concerns that have been raised against the proposal, as there are considered to be outweighed by the wider economic benefits."