Barton could end up with more than double houses wanted

A village at centre of a lengthy planning struggle involving two farms could end up with more than double the number of homes the council believes should be built there, a meeting has heard.

As Richmondshire District councillors urged government inspectors to reject an attempt to expand one of two proposed developments on farms in Barton, they told if appeals over both sites were successful some 82 homes could be built in the 830 population village six miles south-west of Darlington.

The meeting was told applicants behind a previously approved plan to build 35 homes at Rose Villa Farm had lodged revised plans to build an extra 15 homes on the site on the edge of Barton, but as the council had failed to determine the application within 26 weeks, the applicants had lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorare.

The meeting was told the revised scheme was in conflict with the council’s plan for sustainable housing delivery for three primary service villages in north Richmondshire, particularly as there were other housing schemes underway or being considered at the other two villages.

Councillors heard while the authority had targeted 105 homes in the area by 2028, the total number of homes planned or approved in Middleton Tyas, Melsonby and Barton had already reached 114.

In addition, the meeting was told the Planning Inspectorate was also due to announce a decision over an appeal to build 32 homes at The Ashes Farm, which effectively lost out in a planning battle with Rose Villa Farm two years ago to build homes that were being targeted for Barton.

A planning officer said if both farm schemes were approved on appeal Barton could see 82 homes built, which he said was “far in excess of the planned approach” of the council’s strategy.

An agent for the applicant said the revised proposed development would see a more sustainable use of the land, 15 affordable homes created alongside “considerable areas of open space and landscaping”.

She said numerous developers had expressed interest in developing the site, which with 50 new homes would generate an annual extra £56,000 of council tax.

The majority of councillors agreed there was nothing in the revised plans to make them think the plan they had approved for the site with 35 homes was not appropriate and recommended the 50 homes scheme be refused.

Councillor Richard Ormston said creating 50 homes on the site would lead to a “massively overdeveloped village”.

Councillor Lorraine Hodgson added the council had undertaken consultations and gathered evidence before deciding how many homes should be built in the area.

She said: “With these developments you have got to have the infrastructure. If you put too much housing the infrastructure can’t catch up, the schools can’t catch up. We can’t just say an extra five or an extra ten, it was 35 for a reason.”

Councillor Jimmy Wilson-Petch said he believed the applicants had raised the number of homes to 50 on the site because 35 homes was not viable due to building costs on the site.

He said: “That really does upset me because if we had known that the applicant was going to struggle with 35 houses we probably would have accepted the other one.”