Richmondshire housing estate plan rejected as it would leave homes 'packed like sardines'

Councillors have been warned a decision to reject a housing estate plan that planners said would raise the standards on all future developments in the district is likely to result in taxpayers’ money being wasted.

Members refused an application to build 135 homes off Cookson Way, Brough With St Giles, Catterick Garrison

Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee’s chairman Councillor John Amsden spoke of his concerns after members refused an application to build 135 homes off Cookson Way, Brough With St Giles, Catterick Garrison, despite months of negotiations between planning officers and developers in a bid to address potential issues.

As part of plans to rapidly increase housing in the town, the council granted consent for up to 107 homes on the site in 2018, but a year ago the developer lodged a further application for 150 homes there, which was subsequently reduced to 145 homes.

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The planning committee postponed making a decision on it in February, saying while housing was wanted on the site, the proposal needed to several changes to be acceptable, and in particular fewer homes.

A spokesman for the developers said planning officers had stated reducing the homes to 135 would leave a housing density that was appropriate for the area.

He added the planning committee’s other demands had also been met, such as moving play areas to prominent locations, increasing walking and cycling links to other estates and by providing electrical vehicle charging points to 50 per cent of the homes.

However, the meeting heard residents accuse the developers of trying to increase their profits at the expense of residents’ quality of life and the proposal to only provide one parking space per home branded “ridiculous”.

Councillors were told objectors likened the proposed properties to “shoeboxes” and resident David Bray claim houses were being “thrown up around Catterick Garrison with no regard to the people who have to live here”.

Resident David Percival said: “Please do not be browbeaten by the developer or feel you have to approve it just because they have submitted several unacceptable proposals.”

Colburn councillor Angie Dale said while a huge amount of planning officers time had gone into improving the latest scheme, she still felt the houses would be “packed like sardines” on the estate and the proposal approved in 2018 was “far superior”.

She said: “I think we’ve had developments that we’ve looked at that have happened within the Garrison that we think that could have been done better. I think this is one we will look at in a few years and say that could have been done better. I believe there’s overcrowding.”

Planning officers then advised the committee the amended proposals were way beyond the requirements in the council’s Development Plan and the improvements in design and carbon reduction on the scheme would drive up the standards for every future housing development in the district.

They warned the committee the council did not have policies to defend a decision to reject the scheme at appeal on overcrowding grounds.

After members voted to refuse the scheme over poor design and overdevelopment, planning officers said they had no doubt the developers would appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

Coun Amsden said the appeal was likely to be “rather costly for the council”. He added: “The planners and the developers have bent over backwards to do what we have asked them to do.”