Committee rejects 46-home development plan for edge of Ashwell

PUBLISHED: 21:30 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:28 13 October 2017

Planning permission for 46 new homes on the edge of Ashwell has been refused. File photo. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto

Planning permission for 46 new homes on the edge of Ashwell has been refused. File photo. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto

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Planning permission for a proposed development of 46 new homes, two sports pitches and a children’s play area on the edge of Ashwell has tonight been refused.

Ashwell Parish Council had objected to Beck Homes’ proposal for land north of Station Road, between the village and Ashwell & Morden railway station, on grounds including that it was outside the settlement boundary and would thus be “almost a separate hamlet”.

Meeting at Letchworth’s Spirella Ballroom this evening, North Herts District Council’s planning control committee followed officers’ recommendations in refusing permission.

District council planning officer Joanne Cousins urged refusal for reasons including harm to the beauty of the countryside, urbanising impact on an area outside the settlement boundary, and the fact that people living in the new development would be heavily reliant on private cars.

She concluded that even with “the best case for social and economic benefits being made”, these positives would not outweigh the negatives.

Richard Young, of Ashwell, told the councillors the village’s primary school was already at capacity and that the urbanising development would threaten Ashwell’s historic character.

He also suggested that the residents of the new development would rely on cars, adding to the existing traffic congestion in Ashwell and out towards the A505.

He said: “There is no support for this in the village at all.”

Stewart Booth, for Beck Homes, said the development site had existing traffic access and a well-lit footpath to the village. He added that the site was already screened by woodland, which would mitigate the environmental impact, and suggested that the application had received only a few objections locally.

He said: “This development provides considerable social and economic benefits, with limited impacts that are mitigated. It is a well-thought-out proposal.”

The plan called for four five-bed detached houses, 21 four-bed detached houses, 11 three-bed houses – three terraces, and one pair of semi-detached homes – and two terraces of three two-bed houses each. There would also have been four one-bed flats in two two-storey buildings.

There would be two grass pitches, one each for senior and junior football, potentially serving teams such as Ashwell Academicals – as well as a sports pavilion with facilities, a children’s play area and 44 parking spaces. The parish council objected to the lack of provision for other sports such as cricket.

Debating the proposal, Councillor Ian Mantle said: “This doesn’t relate to the village. It’s just a bog-standard bolt-on to the side of it. If you want to expand villages like Ashwell it has to be done sympathetically. This is just plonked down on the side of a field.”

The committee voted unanimously to refuse permission.

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