Anger in council chamber after councillors approve Catterick Garrison homes plan

The houses would be built on greenfield land of Horne Road, Catterick Garrison.

Plans for up to 170 new houses in Catterick Garrison that were rejected last year were last night approved by councillors.

The vote to support the Ministry of Defence’s plans to build the new estate for service family accommodation on greenfield land off Horne Road, opposite Somme Barracks, prompted anger among around 40 residents who had attended the meeting of Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee.

The planning application was backed by the seven Conservative members of the committee, while the three independents – Lorraine Hodgson, John Blackie and Angie dale – voted against the application.

Those who voted in favour of the application were Campbell Dawson, Jimmy Wilson-Petch, Jamie Cameron, Pat Middlemiss, Richard Ormston, Ian Threlfall and Stpehen Wyrill.

Before backing the plans, the committee rejected a motion by Cllr Blackie that the application should be refused.

Several members of public spoke out at the meeting against the scheme and questioned why this greenfield site, which residents said was rich in wildlife, had been chosen.

They said there were better places for the development in Catterick Garrison, including the former hospital site.

Concerns were raised that there was insufficient infrastructure for the development, with residents saying there was poor public transport, insufficient school places and it was already difficult to get a doctor’s appointment.

They also raised concerns about the impact of extra traffic on Tunstall and whether the sewage system could cope.

Residents said that to approve the application would be to ignore the strong public opinion against the scheme.

However, the committee voted in favour of the scheme, prompting angry shouting and heckling from the audience.

Peter Featherstone, head of planning at the authority, was called a “disgrace” by one resident, while other councillors were booed and heckled while speaking in favour of the plans.

At one point the chair of the committee Campbell Dawson threatened to call the police.

John Blackie said the report had been biased in favour of the applicant and against the residents.

He said after the meeting that the Conservative councillors had been told which way to vote ahead of the meeting.

He said the way the application had been handled brought the planning process at the council into disrepute and he questioned why residents would trust it in the future.

The application was a re-submission of plans that were refused by members of the committee in June last year and members of the audience questioned why the MoD had submitted virtually the same application rather than appeal against the decision made previously by the committee.

Although officers had recommended that the scheme be approved last time, councillors said they were not convinced that there were no brownfield sites in Catterick Garrison that could accommodate the scheme instead.

They added that they were concerned there was not adequate infrastructure in place for roads, public transport, foul drainage and school places to be able to accommodate the scale of development proposed in this location.

Despite this refusal, council planning officers recommended that the latest application should be approved.

The report that went before councillors last night stated: “Whilst outline planning permission was refused to a very similar proposal in June of last year, the fact remains that this proposal is not in conflict with the provisions of the Development Plan.

“There are no material planning considerations that can justifiably maintain a rejection of the proposal.

“There is no policy requirement which precludes the development of a suitable greenfield site and no policy requirement for a sequential assessment of alternative brownfield sites.

“Nevertheless, it has been confirmed that there are no other sites which are available to meet this current need.”