Homes to be built on Green Belt land after inspector overrules council

The plans for a new development off Turnpike Lane, Ickleford Credit

The plans for a new development off Turnpike Lane, Ickleford Credit - Credit: Concept Planning

Homes will be built on Green Belt land in Ickleford after a government inspector overruled the district council’s decision.

In February, North Herts District Council rejected an application for five homes on Turnpike Lane, adjacent to Manor Close.

Nearby residents, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Ickleford Parish Council all opposed the new homes which they feared would lead to an expansion of the village, and that there was no case to remove the land from the Green Belt.

One resident’s objection said, “green areas in the village are rapidly disappearing”, with another adding, “the development is totally unnecessary and will blight the adjacent heritage area”.

The plans for five homes – including one four-bedroom house, two three-bedroom houses, and two two-bedroom houses – were submitted by Mrs T Grainger, and Concept Planning in April 2020.

The applicants had previously submitted plans for seven houses on the site, but this was withdrawn in January 2020.

Council officers had recommended members approve the amended proposal when it came in front of the Planning Control Committee on February 10, 2021, however councillors chose to reject the plans and risk an appeal.

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Their decision said that the applicant had not proved there were very special circumstances to build on the Green Belt, and added it “would harm the fundamental aim of Green Belt policy which seeks to maintain the openness of the area.”

However, their decision has now been overruled by a government inspector, who said the land is likely to be removed from the Green Belt anyway.

In a decision published on September 28, inspector Mr W Johnson said the development would constitute “inappropriate development” on the Green Belt, but noted the site has been already earmarked for development in the council’s emerging Local Plan. 

The Local Plan has not yet been adopted due to delays as a result of the pandemic, but the inspector said there was “little before me” to indicate the site would not be included in a final plan.

Mr Johnson also noted that the development would contribute to the council’s housing supply, resulting in “economic and social benefits”, and there was no other identified harm, including to the character of the area, highway safety or biodiversity.

The inspector concluded: “Therefore, the above factors, particularly the advanced stage of the emerging LP and the impending removal of the site from the Green Belt would, in this instance, clearly outweigh the substantial weight given to Green Belt harm. I find that the other considerations in this case clearly outweigh the harm that I have identified.”

The development has now been given planning permission subject to conditions, including in relation to materials, trees and landscaping to maintain the character of the area.