Barton farms in race to get planning permission for housing estates

Two Richmondshire farms just yards apart have become rivals to get planning permission in a situations described as “first past the post” by one councillor.

Over the last two weeks, two “major development plans” for Barton have both been recommended for approval by council planning officers and later for deferral, and one has also been recommended for rejection.

Richmondshire District Council officers said either an application to build 40 homes on While Rose Villa Farm or a plan to create 35 homes at nearby The Ashes Farm should be approved, as granting both schemes would exceed the number of properties needed in the village with a population of just over 800.

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Planning officer Ian  Nesbit told a meeting of the council’s planning committee the plan for The Ashes Farm, which was submitted to the council on December 18, had initially been recommended for approval on April 23.

He said the plan for White Rose Villa Farm, submitted on November 23, had been recommended for refusal “based on the issue of numbers”.

Mr Nesbit told members: “We are in a situation in Barton, in the north Richmondshire area, where both schemes if granted, we would be significantly over the numbers expected in the Local Plan.”

He said it had emerged Natural England felt additional survey work over the numbers of bats and possible roosts on The Ashes Farm application site was required before a decision on the development could be made, so it had been recommended for deferral.

Mr Nesbit said members had stated as The Ashes Farm application was “out the way” and thereby potential excessive housing numbers in the village no longer an issue, the White Rose Villa Farm application should be decided.

Officers then made a recommendation stating that the White Rose Villa Farm application should be approved.

Mr Nesbit added: “Things are moving fast with these applications since that recommendation was sent round on Thursday and we have had a solicitors letter in on behalf of The Ashes Farm application.”

He said the letter had raised “technical, legal and procedural issues” over the Rose Villa Farm application, and members had been recommended to defer that application as the comments raised required further investigation by officers.

Some councillors appeared stunned by the chain of events.

Councillor Helen Grant said: “If the questions are addressed on both applications, will they now be both for approval or will we be flipping and flopping?”

Mr Nesbit replied: “It depends on the reconsultation responses, the survey work and the legal questions.”

After Cllr Grant asked whether the situation was “a bit like first past the post”, there was a silence in the room.

After the committee agreed to defer both applications, its chairman, Councillor Jimmy Wilson-Petch, said: “It is probably better and proper that they both come back to a planning meeting that considers them both.”