Committee rejects ‘devious’ plan to turn annexe off Hitchin A602 into home

PUBLISHED: 12:56 20 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:35 20 July 2018

How it was proposed in the plan to create 16A Traherne Close, outlined in red, on the side of the existing 16 Traherne Close. Picture: Alan Cox Associates

How it was proposed in the plan to create 16A Traherne Close, outlined in red, on the side of the existing 16 Traherne Close. Picture: Alan Cox Associates

Archant

A plan to turn a controversial annexe into a separate home, just off the A602 in Hitchin, was last night rejected amid claims the developer had dishonestly tried to game the planning system.

Marcus Andrews sought consent to turn an already-built extension to 16 Traherne Close – at the mouth of the cul-de-sac, next to the A602 Stevenage Road – into a separate one-bedroom dwelling.

But neighbours furiously objected, and last night North Herts District Council’s planning control committee in Letchworth rejected the idea.

The extension was built after planning permission was last year granted for a one-bedroom annexe – by district council planning officers under delegated powers, rather than councillors.

This came after the withdrawal of applications for first a two-bed and then a one-bed home, which planning officers had earmarked for refusal – and last night, Letchworth East Labour councillor Ian Mantle said the extension had clearly never been intended to remain an annexe.

Calling it an overdevelopment on an inappropriate site, he said: “I don’t think that after this rather devious route we should give in, and grant what we wouldn’t have had he been honest in the first place.”

Clare Little, addressing the committee on behalf of the neighbours, said adding an extra home would be overdevelopment and in breach of a 1957 covenant prohibiting further building. She said there had been flagrant breaches of the previous consent.

She said: “If it were to be passed it would set a very dangerous precedent across North Hertfordshire.

“The developer has disregarded the planning process and has built what he wanted.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Clark, who represents the Highbury ward containing Traherne Close, told the meeting the planning process had been “totally ignored and sidetracked” in this case, and that it didn’t show the council in a good light.

But Conservative Royston Meridian councillor Tony Hunter stressed the “elephant in the room” of the five-year housing supply – and said that as the structure had already been built, with planning permission, he couldn’t see the district council winning an appeal.

Mr Mantle’s vote to refuse permission, seconded by Mr Clark, was carried by a majority – with votes against from Mr Hunter and Conservative councillors Michael Muir, Michael Weeks and Harry Spencer-Smith.

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