Council defends planning process after complaints over Catterick Garrison homes application

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

Richmondshire District Council has defended its handling of a planning application after residents complained following councillors’ decision to approve up to 170 new homes in Catterick Garrison.

There were angry scenes in the council chamber after the vote was taken last Wednesday to allow the Ministry of Defence’s plans to build the new estate for service family accommodation on greenfield land off Horne Road.

Residents were furious that the plans were passed despite dozens of objections against the scheme.

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The district council has received five complaints from Tunstall residents alleging that the decision had already been made, that valid reasons for refusal had not been taken into account, that the planning report was biased because it recommended approval of the application and that it was odd that the applicants did not take their case to planning appeal.

Martin Richardson, chairman of Tunstall Parish Council, said the land was outside the local development plan and the scheme “flies in the face of RDC’s own Core Policy CP4, whereby infrastructure is supposed to be in place before anything is built”.

He added: “There are many better and more appropriate brown field sites within the Garrison footprint which the Army has simply dismissed as ‘needed for future development’.

Mr Richardson said a “gulf of mistrust” has now opened up between the village, the council and the Army.

 

The district council said the complaints had all been responded to pointing out that public speaking time was extended to allow all of those who wished to speak time to do so and that the planning report dealt with all of the grounds for objection that had been raised.

The council’s corporate director Callum McKeon said it was explained that the planning system expects applicants to re-submit an application to address grounds for refusal rather than go to appeal and that all Members of the Committee would be aware of that fact.

He added: “Planning Officers are required to reach a conclusion in their report whether permission should be granted or refused but doing so does not indicate bias, nor does the fact that they are required to speak to the applicants both before and after an application is submitted to try to resolve the reasons why permission was previously refused.

“Issues such as the availability of alternative sites and the need to address potential flooding were all addressed in the report and whilst it is clear that many of the objectors disagree with the conclusions reached by planning officers, Yorkshire Water and NYCC Highways  this does not in itself mean that the application was not dealt with in the proper manner.”

Following the meeting, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Jordan, the Catterick Garrison Commander, issued a statement saying it was clear residents in the surrounding parishes of the Garrison are not aware of the totality of the Garrison expansion plan.

He said staff from Headquarters 4th Infantry Brigade, Headquarters Catterick Garrison and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation will visit parishes to brief residents in the near future.

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.