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You’ll have to live with it inspector tells Cambridgeshire villagers who unsuccessfully opposed 47 homes

Ashwood Homes win appeal to build 47 homes at Doddington near March

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Nearly 170 people objected to 47 homes being built in their village and 136 signed a protest petition but the Planning Inspectorate dismissed them to allow the new estate to be built.

Residents won support from councillors – who then ignored advice from its officers – to approve the homes for Ashwood Homes on land east of Bevills Close Doddington near March; three previous applications to build there had been refused.

The site comprises a rectangular parcel of land currently in use for arable agriculture and measures approximately 3.12 hectares.

Fenland District Council planning committee went against their officers recommendation and refused it, but Ashwood Homes has won an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

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Rachael Bust, the inspector, said: “I recognise that this outcome will be disappointing to those opposing the development.

“However, the views of local people, very important though they are, must be balanced against other considerations.

“In coming to my conclusions on the main issue and the various other issues that have been raised, I have taken full and careful account of all the representations that have been made.

Layout of the 47 homes proposed for the village of Doddington near March. Villagers had opposed the new estate but the Planning Inspectorate over ruled a council decision

Layout of the 47 homes proposed for the village of Doddington near March. Villagers had opposed the new estate but the Planning Inspectorate over ruled a council decision

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“However, I have found the development to be acceptable; there is no substantive evidence to provide any cogent reasons why this appeal should not succeed.”

She said the main issue she considered was the effect of the scale of the appeal proposal on the living conditions of residents with particular regard to the potential noise associated with vehicles using the proposed access for the occupiers of 12-18 Bevills Close and 15 Eastalls Close, and the effect on parking arrangements for 12-18 Bevills Close.

Ms Rust also said that having regard to the appeal site area and the character of the surrounding residential development of an existing relatively modern housing estate comprising of one storey and two-storey residential dwellings “the proposal would provide an appropriate number and mix of new dwellings and form a logical extension to the settlement”.

Noise concerns raised

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Concerns were raised about noise from vehicles, particularly in relation to those existing occupiers closest to the site access.

“No cogent evidence has been submitted to substantiate these claims,” she said.

“I note that no concerns have been raised by the council’s environmental health protection team in relation to noise from vehicles.

“They had no objection to the development subject to the imposition of planning conditions.”

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She had looked at a noise assessment and although the report acknowledged that there would be an increase as a consequence of the appeal proposal, it would “still be within established guidelines”.

She said on a site she looked at parking issues and had taken note of highways authority thoughts which did suggest extra parking was needed to make the site acceptable.

“The appeal proposal would not result in new on-street parking restrictions,” she said.

“As such residents could still continue to park informally on-street if they wished. Albeit the road layout would now be a through road as opposed to a turning area.

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“The contention therefore that there would no alternative parking available for occupiers of 12- 18 Bevills Close is misguided.”

The inspector also said “no cogent evidence” had been presented by the council to underpin and substantiate a claim of light pollution.

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Concerns over width of roads

“Concerns have been raised about the width of the roads,” said the inspector.

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“From my assessment during my site visit where I drove and walked around the area, I did not find the roads to be unduly narrow.

“Given the relatively recent development adjacent to the appeal site, the roads and footways have been constructed to modern design standards.

“It is not unusual for one housing area to be accessed through another and vehicles of different sizes moving around.”

Construction traffic movements had been raised as concerns. Whilst this is understandable, she said, it would be for a temporary period and not a reason for refusal.

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She added: “From the submitted petition it has been raised that the cul-de-sac which would form the proposed emergency access is a private road.

“However, the highway authority has confirmed that their records indicate that this section is adopted public highway.”

The inspector touched on several representations about village infrastructure being overstretched and reference made to the results of the Doddington Village Survey of February 2023.

“Although concerns have been raised about insufficient facilities, from the submitted evidence and my site visit, I do not agree,” she said.

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“Doddington has a range of day-to-day services and facilities and therefore it is correctly placed in the Fenland settlement hierarchy and identified as a settlement for future growth.”

Boosting housing supply

She also said the council had identified a need to significantly boost housing supply and that any housing targets should be seen as a minimum rather than a maximum.

“Other matters raised relating to impact on property values and the loss of a view are not planning matters,” she said.

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“No concerns in principle have been raised regarding the demolition of the agricultural building or 44 Bevills Close.

“As such I see no reason to disagree.”

Viability assessment

She added: “I am satisfied that the submitted viability evidence provides a sufficiently detailed analysis of costs involved, such that affordable housing cannot be offered.”

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The inspector said the council’s senior planning obligations officer considered the viability assessment and concluded that the development could afford a total financial contribution of £72,000 towards infrastructure provider’s requests but with no affordable housing provision.

“On the basis of the evidence presented to me, I have no reason to come to a different conclusion on the viability assessment,” she said.

 

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