Councillors decide which Barton housing development to approve

Rose Villa Farm.

As the England football team secured a World Cup quarter-final place after extra-time and penalties, planners were forced to use extraordinary reasons to settle a village planning contest.

Tuesday evening saw Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee decide two almost identical proposals to build 35 homes on farms in Barton, near Darlington, on the basis of which would provide the greatest public benefit.

Planning applications are normally considered on their own individual merits, but because the farms were having their schemes considered at the same time, and officers said to approve both would overdevelop the village, a first-past-the-post battle arose.

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Both schemes had previously been recommended for approval by the authority’s planning officers.

Officers told the meeting the schemes at The Rose Villa Farm and nearby The Ashes Farm both featured 30 per cent affordable housing and neither had objections from technical consultees.

They said while there had been a greater level of concern expressed over perceived road issues for The Ashes Farm, the Highway Authority had raised no highway safety issues with either scheme.

The meeting heard residents had expressed a prevailing view The Rose Villa Farm offered would be more convenient for facilities such as the village shop, pub, school and play area as there would be no need to cross the main road through the village.

Officers said The Ashes Farm scheme would have a closer relationship to the existing residential area of the village, although both sites were next to the development limits of the village.

An officers’ report to the meeting stated it was likely residents quality of life would be improved from the ceasing of current farming activities at both sites in terms of heavy traffic movements, odours and noise.

It added residents had “clearly highlighted that the ceasing of farming activities at Rose Villa Farm would result in an amenity improvement to the locale where strong smells believed to emanate from the farm have been noted.”

Councillors said while they accepted there were potential public benefits for both schemes, they felt The Rose Villa Farm application would result in greater public benefits.