Pirton’s joy as planning committee rejects 99-home Gladman application

Villagers in Pirton protest against the plans in July. Picture: Rafe Abrook

Villagers in Pirton protest against the plans in July. Picture: Rafe Abrook - Credit: Archant

Villagers near Hitchin are jubilant after a developer’s planning application for another 99 homes was roundly rejected last night.

Gladman Developments hopes to build on the south side of Holwell Road on the eastern edge of Pirton – directly adjacent to where CALA Homes already has consent to build 78 houses.

But amid fervent opposition from the Pirton Action Group, North Hertfordshire District Council’s planning control committee unanimously refused the Gladman application last night at Letchworth’s Spirella Ballroom.

Speaking on the action group’s behalf, Carol-Anne McConnellogue told the meeting: “This application threatens to destroy the wonderful community spirit that makes our village so special, as well as changing forever our unique and historic setting.

“We are not NIMBYs. We support and encourage reasonable development – however, this is unsustainable and disproportionate. More importantly, it will put lives at risk.”

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The councillors’ decision to refuse the application, taken after Diane Burleigh had addressed them on behalf of both Pirton Parish Council and Holwell Parish Council, prompted whoops and cheers from villagers in the public gallery.

In his report to the committee, district council planning officer Tom Rea had described the application as “unacceptable in terms of the principle of development”, and recommended refusal on the grounds that, in his view, the benefits of allowing the development would not outweigh the harm it would cause.

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Specifically, he cited the potential damage to the beauty of the countryside, the cumulative impact the development might have when coupled with the CALA plans, and the prospect of the Gladman site being totally divorced from the rest of Pirton if the CALA scheme were not implemented.

He also pointed to a affordable housing shortfall in the plan, insufficient archaeological surveys so far at the Gladman site, and a lack of community infrastructure for prospective residents – the last of which would probably result in overdependence on cars.

In a proactive statement at the report’s end, he urged the councillors to reject the application.

He wrote: “The council has not acted proactively through positive engagement with the applicant, as in the council’s view the proposal is unacceptable in principle and the fundamental objections cannot be overcome through dialogue.”

Gladman are now likely to appeal against the planning committee’s decision.

Gil Burleigh from the Pirton Action Group last month called for further archaeological investigation at the Gladman site – dubbed ETF2 – after a report based on a survey in January confirmed that it held many Roman artefacts and objects potentially dating back 3,000 years.

Historic England confirmed to the Comet that it was looking into the potential archaeology at ETF2.

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