Housing estate approved after appeals warning

A proposal to build 240 houses across a greenfield site on the edge of a town has been approved after councillors were warned government planning inspectors had recently regularly overturned their decisions.

Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee approved the scheme for 34 two-bedroom, 120 three-bedroom and 86 four-bedroom on fields to the east of Brough St Giles, Catterick Garrison, despite members raising an array of concerns.

An agent for the developers told the meeting the development would be in a suitable location and create an attractive gateway to the Catterick Garrison area.

However, several councillors raised concerns that building another roundabout on the A6136 Catterick Road would aggravate congestion, that the estate lacked any paths to get to nearby shops or sporting facilities, and the residents of the estate would be isolated from Colburn.

The authority’s leader and Colburn councillor Angie Dale said she had “an endless list” of concerns about the development.

She said: “They are not ‘aspire to’ homes. There’s nothing inspiring about them.”

Councillor Richard Ormston added: “It’s a step too far out towards the A1. I’m not a big fan of developments on greenfield sites such as this.”

Colburn councillor Kevin Foster said while good quality and affordable housing was desperately needed in the area, there was at least one available brownfield site in the area and the proposed proportion of affordable housing was too low.

Councillors were told while the council had pledged to pursue including stringent carbon cutting measures on all new housing, only a fraction of the estate would have renewable energy features.

The meeting also heard concerns from both a resident and councillors that by repeatedly approving developing over greenfield sites the council was stacking up precedents that developers could use as evidence if they challenged the authority at appeal.

A resident told the committee: “You are probably making life difficult for yourselves.”

As councillors appeared to be about to postpone making a decision to ask the developer to go back to the drawing board, an officer highlighted how they had rejected plans for another estate nearby only for it to be approved on appeal.

He said the council was “massively underdelivering” on getting houses built and had a poor record at appeals by government planning inspectors following refusals of planning applications.

The officer told the committee his team had worked “tirelessly” on all the concerns councillors had raised, adding: “If I was the developer I would appeal this scheme and go for costs. The big thing here is our appeals record. That’s a big concern.”

Coun Dale then said: “I feel like we are being led in to something that we are not agreeing with. The key thing is this is a greenfield site.”

After hearing the NHS was asking for a large contribution from developers for the Catterick Integrated Care Campus, councillors said the developers should instead be asked to distribute contributions to help maintain community facilities in the immediate area, such as Colburn Leisure Centre.