Long-running saga over Boat Lane homes bid continues after planners defer decision - The Evesham Observer

Long-running saga over Boat Lane homes bid continues after planners defer decision

Joshua Godfrey 19th Oct, 2017 Updated: 19th Oct, 2017   0

THE LONG-running saga over a developer’s bid to build hundreds of homes in the heart of Evesham is set to rumble on after planning chiefs deferred a decision on the controversial proposals.

More than 20 town residents packed the council chamber at Wychavon District Council’s planning committee this afternoon to hear planners debate Hallam Land Management’s plans to build 220 homes, a care home and business land off Boat Lane.

But the saga, which first began in December last year, is set to continue after councillors voted by 11 to 4 in favour of deferring a decision.

It now means Wychavon will negotiate with Hallam in a bid to get them to revise their proposals after planners raised serious concerns about the number of homes and access to the site.

Councillors have also asked for the care home and business land to be removed from Hallam’s proposals if the housing developer decides to revise them following today’s set back.

The tension filled meeting kicked off with an impassioned plea from the Mayor of Evesham, Coun Richard Jones, who called on planners to refuse the application.

“We do not want to see any development on this site which is unsympathetic to the local area,” he said.

“Now we believe that this planning application as it stands does not give us the detail we require.

“We would like to see the land split into two. The land north off Boat Lane could be developed into a housing estate and that should be accessed through the development at Bewdley Street. That could be a stand-alone site; it would relieve the parking and traffic onto Abbey Road.

“In regards to the land south of Boat Lane, the SWDP, although it recommended approximately 200 homes, it hasn’t mentioned other developments and it hasn’t necessarily restricted them.

“Therefore we feel overall this development represents huge over development of the site and we ask you to refuse it.”

After a round of applause broke out for Coun Jones, Evesham resident David Ashley in his speech objecting to the application warned councillors they would set a ‘dangerous precedent’ if they approved the application.

He said this was because Hallam’s bid for 220 homes exceeds the allocation set out in the South Worcestershire Development Plan which states approximately 200 homes can be built on land off Boat Lane.

“The inspector reduced the proposals from 250 houses to 200 following a consultation,” Mr Ashley said.

“The SWDP itself has three per cent flexibility included in its overall housing supply, not 10 per cent as this application requests.

“There is also no provision for any other type of development on this site. The care home and business use take up nearly 20 per cent over the available land and so the number of houses should be reduced to approximately 150.”

Lucy Parmenter, from David Lock Associates the agent for Hallam, told councillors the proposals represented a ‘sustainable’ development and said they did understand the ‘sensitivity’ of the site.

Members of the committee then began to debate the application. Jo Sandalls, councillor for Evesham North, said it was the most controversial application in her ward to go to committee in her time as a councillor.

After expressing concern about the proposed junction to the site off Abbey Road, Coun Sandalls recommended the application be refused.

“Highways haven’t rejected and I have every respect for their technical advice, I do not feel that sufficient weight or consideration has been given to the volume of traffic which will be generated by Hampton Ferry junctions and the Angling Festival which brings hundreds of people to the town.

“The Highway’s officers must also consider the extra volume of traffic with the proposed housing numbers, the fire station and the leisure centre all accessing onto the busy Abbey Road.”

Bretforton Councillor Keith Wright later backed the calls for refusal.

However, the Chairman of the Planning Committee Council Tony Rowley proposed the application was deferred because he was concerned if it was refused then the council would ‘lose control’ to decide and a Government Inspector would make the final decision.

“I think refusing this application today would give us a major problem not only in terms of the SWDP, but also it may take control of the application away from this council and if it was to go to appeal and was successful then we would lose control.”

Coun David Wilkinson then seconded Coun Rowley’s proposal and in doing so he said: “There are serious issues here that need to be looked at. Whilst we must accept there will be some development here because it’s in the SWDP, I don’t think that means we simply have to accept whatever is put in front of us.”

As Coun Rowley is Chairman of the committee, a vote was held on his proposal first. 11 councillors voted in favour of deferment and four voted against the proposal.

Reacting to the decision, Coun John Smith told the Observer he now hopes Hallam will remove the care home and business use from any revised proposals they submit to Wychavon.

“I’m pleased the committee decided to defer it,” he said.

“It certainly gives the officers and the member of the committee the opportunity to discuss their concerns with the applicant.

“Had they of refused the application, it’s my view that Hallam would of gone straight to appeal and everything would of been taken out of Wychavon’s hands.

“They can now negotiate with the applicant and make it clear they are concerned about the access, the fact they don’t particularly want a care home and they are not very keen on the employment land either.

“Ideally I would also like to see the housing numbers come down to 150. I would also like to see it be all bungalows which then prevent the views of the Bell Tower being restricted.”


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