Large self-build home in Castor gets go-ahead despite claims it is ‘out of character for conservation area’

The planning meeting where the decision was made
The planning meeting where the decision was made
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A planning application for a large self-build home in Castor has been approved despite a recommendation that it be refused.

The large, detached three bedroom house with garage is to be built on land at Peterborough Road, Castor, where the side garden of the existing property was converted in the 1980s to workshops.

The same piece of land was subject to a planning application appeal in 2014, when the erection of two dwellings was refused there. That appeal was successful, but the development remains unbuilt.

Members of Peterborough City Council’s Planning & Environmental Protection Committee heard at their meeting last week that site owners Mr and Mrs Brown have now retired, intending to build their dream home on the plot.

However, council head of development and construction Nick Harding said: “This new application follows on from the successful appeal in 2014 that you’ve heard about. Since then, nothing has been built there.

“The latest application is for a single dwelling that we feel is totally out of character for the size of the plot, being primarily far too large and with limited access down a very narrow alleyway that forms a wall between the existing house and its side garden.

“We also feel that the design of the proposed dwelling is out of character in what is a conservation area and would be detrimental to existing buildings in Castor.

“The design impacts upon the amenities of the adjacent properties with a loss of light and would be clearly visible from both the road and pathway.

“Accordingly, taking into account all material considerations, it is the recommendation of planning officers that this application be refused.”

Speaking on behalf of the plot owners, agent John Dadge, said: “This has been a complicated site to prepare, and originally Castor Parish Council did not support the application.

“Subsequently, considerable alterations were made, including factoring in the cost of demolition and removal of the ugly 1980s buildings, with improvements made where possible to the narrow access lane through which all vehicles will travel to reach the plot.

“After lengthy discussions, including a reduction in size of the original design, the parish council are now happy to support the Browns, who are retiring to the village they’ve lived in for many years and love very much.”

Cllr Peter Hiller said: “We were most grateful for the site visit to this plot because it is a complex piece of land, with strange angles and access points.

“On the whole I’m inclined to agree with Mr Dadge – I cannot see that this two-and-a-half storey dwelling will be all that visible from the road, nor will it impact upon the existing property next door in quite the way the planning officers imply.

“This is a home for a retiring couple who have no intention of selling it immediately for a profit, so that any issues with amenities and access will only become a decision for a future buyer.

“Yes, it is a conservation area; but the applicants now have the backing of the parish council, and in villages of this size that can be a very important factor indeed.”

The highways officer was asked about concerns of access, turning and parking on the narrow alleyway into the plot.

Julie Smith, highways control team manager, said: “Normally we would object to a narrow access roadway to such a large development, and this played a large role in the 2014 refusal.

“However, as there simply is no alternative, it is our opinion that access should not form the primary reason for refusal a second time.”

Cllr Christian Hogg said: “While there are elements of this application that are not ideal, these are not sufficient in my opinion to warrant a refusal, and development of the site would see the removal of several particularly ugly existing buildings.

“I feel on this occasion we should go against the recommendations of the planning officer and approve the application.”

Following a vote, the application was approved.

Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service