Seven additional homes approved for village development despite concerns

The development will be on land next to Preston Primary School

The development will be on land next to Preston Primary School - Credit: Google

Developers will be able to build an additional seven homes in Preston, despite concerns that the extra homes could negatively impact the conservation area.

Planners approved proposals to allow the extra homes to be built in Back Lane - after originally backing plans for three homes in February 2021 -- despite 35 objections to the scheme.

Preston Parish Council and the ward district councillor both spoke against the application during a meeting of North Herts Council’s Planning Control Committee on March 31, but members were satisfied the benefits of new homes would outweigh concerns about the development.

Developers James Estates agreed to conditions raised by objectors in regards to trees, solar panels and groundwater.

The developer’s agent Ben Borthwick, of Smith Jenkins Town Planning Consultations, said the plot was potentially the “last remaining opportunity to deliver sustainable and suitable housing in the local village context”, with the surrounding area designated as green belt. He added the homes would contribute to the council’s housing supply.

The new housing mix of the development will include one two-bedroom, four three-bedroom, three four-bedroom and two five-bedroom houses, with each house having a garage with additional parking on their plot.

Ward councillor Cllr Claire Strong said: “The particular area I want to address is the one of density, it’s to ask you to consider as a committee if you think these revised plans will have a harmful effect on the character and appearance because of the much higher density this new plan is going to have.

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“I don’t believe that anyone wants to see this site undeveloped going forward, because it’s within the village boundary. However, the planning permission that was granted for the three houses, those three although large dwellings were quite in keeping and you saw that when you saw the map of the site. The properties around it are very spaced and it’s not a very high density area.”

She suggested a deferring any decision to consult with the developer about alterations.

In total, 35 residents and the parish council had objected to the plans, with other concerns relating to the design of the building, the loss of green space and increase in traffic.

However, council officers recommended the scheme for approval, saying the ‘less than substantial harm’ on the conservation area is outweighed by the benefits of providing new homes.

During the committee’s debate, Councillor David Levett said the council was “between a rock and a hard place".

"I think it is quite a dense site but the housing need does exist, we can’t meet it elsewhere at the moment because we haven’t got the Local Plan through yet,” he added.

Councillors ultimately backed the plans, including the extra conditions, by 10 to 1.