Developers and council argue over building homes on Peterborough countryside

The Public Inquiry at the Town Hall
The Public Inquiry at the Town Hall
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Developers and Peterborough City Council argued over the merits of building homes on open countryside during day three of a Planning Inquiry in Peterborough.

Developers Larkfleet Homes are proposing 78 new houses on countryside near Lincoln Road, Glinton, together with various sporting facilities for Glinton & Northborough Football Club.

A map of the location

A map of the location

The application was previously rejected by city councillors.

Day three of the Public Inquiry being held at Peterborough Town Hall has heard from Mark Bassett, a chartered town planner giving evidence on behalf of Larkfleet Homes.

Mr Bassett said: “The use of out of date core planning policies means that, in my opinion, the council planning officers have wrongly refused Larkfleet Homes’ application.

“The old policies have been fundamental in the decision-making process, overlooking updated definitions contained within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

“The 2018 NPPF allows for development in the open countryside to take place, even if the houses are beyond an agreed settlement boundary, if that housing ‘enhances’ or ‘sustains’ rural communities. It is my client’s position that this development does just that.”

Clare Parry, barrister for the city council, cross-examining Mr Bassett, said: “Even if we suppose, for the moment, that the key planning policies used by the council are out of date, what effect has that had on the primary issue that these houses would be built on the best agricultural land, in the countryside, outside the settlement boundary of the village of Glinton?”

Mr Bassett said: “The starting point for any out-of-date policy is to determine exactly how out of date it is, and what overall effect that will have on reducing the numbers of houses that the council are required to build by government.

“I believe the out-of-date policies used by the council were updated by the Government because they have inconsistencies that make them inflexible.

“The old policies do not allow the building of homes in the countryside, even if those homes enhance and sustain rural communities.”

Ms Parry, though, stated that the primary wording contained within the latest 2018 NPPF is almost the same as the policies adopted by the council.

She challenged the assumption that being out-of-date renders them ineffective or, for the purposes of the Inspector, incorrect to have been used by council officers in determining the refusal of the application.

Bob Randall, who was born in Glinton, and is a parish councillor, asked Mr Bassett about the land on which the football pitches are proposed: “Will you be gifting the land to the football club, and will that gift be freehold or leasehold, because we don’t a hotel being built on that field in 10 years time when the football club no longer exists?”

Mr Bassett answered: “The land on which the pitches are will be gifted to the trust being set up by the football club, freehold.”

Glinton resident and parish councillor Jeff Bell asked Mr Bassett: “Do you even care about the villagers’ concerns about traffic, noise, light pollution and mess as part of the overall impact of your development, from which you will make a great deal of money?”

Mr Bassett replied: “I have considered all aspects of this development, and I believe that your objections have been fairly heard, answered by me, and so dealt with.”

Day One heard opening statements from both sides as well as evidence in favour of the development from the Stuart Craig, vice-chairman of Glinton & Northborough FC, which stands to benefit from help by the developers providing them with additional pitches and funding towards a new clubhouse.

Day Two heard from seven villagers in Glinton speak against the development on various grounds, including traffic congestion, noise, disruption and light pollution (from football floodlights), and who say there is no need for the additional facilities that would only benefit the football club, 75 per cent of whose members do not live in Glinton.

The biggest concern raised by the villagers was the adverse effect the proximity of the houses and football pitches would have on the security of Clare Lodge, the UK’s only all-female welfare unit.

The inquiry could hinge on whether the council has correctly assessed its land supply figures.

Government Inspector Caroline Mulloy will make a morning site visit to Glinton today (Friday), before the Inquiry continues for what is expected to be its last day.