Thirty new homes approved despite neighbour’s plea to ‘let Potton breathe’

The site of the new homes, off Potton’s Everton Road. Picture: Woods Hardwick

The site of the new homes, off Potton’s Everton Road. Picture: Woods Hardwick - Credit: Archant

An emotional plea to “allow Potton to breathe” and to consider “the human cost of development” was brushed aside as plans for up to 30 homes in the town were approved.

Blakeney Estates Limited wants to demolish a bungalow and build the housing on land to the west of Everton Road.

But the project failed to impress neighbour Tina Arnold-Winch, who recently inherited a property in Everton Road from her late father.

“I am so glad he’s not here to see this take place,” she told Central Bedfordshire Council’s development management committee.

“The numerous objections received cite all manner of reasons why it should be rejected. Yet you’ve overturned them. None of this is fair.

“The proposed development and road will be literally be on our boundary on two sides, which will be completely compromised.

“The demolition of the bungalow, which is a perfectly good solid home in which a young family currently live, will be inches from our driveway.

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“The destruction will be devastating both mentally and on the health of us all.

“The impact of noise, disturbance and pollution on those who live nearby as building takes place is unacceptable.

“And the loss of privacy is unimaginable with the road running right beside our property.

“Nobody seems to care about the human cost of those of us directly affected by the new development. To see your family home affected like this is absolutely heartbreaking.

“To know that development will be built without any regard for the residents and neighbours is absolutely cruel.

“Please allow Potton to breathe, and think of those of us who actually live there.”

Richard Murdoch, for the applicant, welcomed the recommendation of the officers in support of the outline proposals.

“The site is modest and well related to the existing development in this part of Potton,” he told yesterday’s meeting.

“As such, a suitably designed residential development can be brought forward which does not unacceptably impact on the immediate character of the area, the wider landscape and the surrounding properties.

“Consultation response issues do not raise any issues that cannot be addressed by suitable planning conditions, which are proposed to be attached to any consent granted.

“The site has previously been promoted for allocation through the emerging Local Plan and received positive feedback with no issues to preclude it from being allocated and with no unacceptable adverse impact identified.

“Given the current planning position in Central Bedfordshire the council is approving planning applications on sites outside development envelopes, having regard to the specifics of each individual site and the proposal.

“We respectively submit this site is one such suitable area. It’s of a scale that is appropriate to Potton delivering new development, to provide local housing, with affordable homes.

“It will also offer support to local services and infrastructure, while not being of a scale that will place undue pressure on those services.”

The development was also taken to task by independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny.

“It is very much outside of the settlement envelope,” he said. “Development here will cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the area, in terms of its impact on Potton.”

The plans are contrary to several planning policies, Mr Zerny said.

“Outside the settlement envelope is outside of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s just outside or a long way outside.

“If we approve one development right on the edge the owners of the field next to it will apply for planning permission, and it will creep gradually further and further.

“The ecological survey was not possible as the site was completely cleared beforehand.

“If a developer has cleared a piece of land it must be allowed to return to its natural state before planning permission is considered. It’s not a good sign.

“This site was unwanted in the Local Plan. It was not included. It was submitted for consideration, but it was not taken forward because the site is surrounded by agricultural land and extends into the open countryside.

“It’s clearly overdevelopment. Potton currently has 830 houses which are being built, have been approved recently, or are being applied for or proposed for application.

“That would represent a 40-per-cent increase in the size of town, which currently has 2,000 houses.

“There are 235 on Biggleswade Road – that’s 150 on the east side and 85 on the west side, a further 90 on Sandy Road, and 65 on Mill Lane.

“Also, there are 100 on Sutton Road, which are being considered on appeal at the moment, and 100 more behind Sutton Park Road.

“Potton neither requests nor requires any more housing at the moment. We have quite enough coming.”

Conservative Dunstable Watling councillor Nigel Young said he had “great sympathy for any resident immediately affected by a development” and thanked Tina Arnold-Winch for “speaking well”.

He noted that Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group had asked for a contribution from the developer for Potton surgery.

“It’s the first time the CCG has asked for a contribution for a specific surgery,” he said.

“That’s what we want them to do. It’s going to the Greensands medical practice.”

Conservative Toddington councillor Tom Nicol said he understood residents’ concerns, but “critically, from the site visit, I thought it was quite a good application”.

He described the site as being “pretty much hidden”, and wondered why it has not been included as suitable for housing in the emerging Local Plan for Central Bedfordshire.

Conservative Sandy councillor Peter Smith said: “My issue with this kind of individual creeping development is one of accumulative impact.

“It can become unsustainable at some point where traffic impact becomes a critical issue because no further infrastructure is in place.

“There is an overall grinding impact on the residents of the Potton area in terms of traffic congestion.

“It goes contrary to what we are trying to achieve in the Local Plan process, and I would hate to think we ignore that.”

He added: “Councillor Nicol’s argument is valid that this, as a site, looks perfectly feasible. But Potton has had a lot of housing built in the last few years.

“I do beg this committee does take account of the accumulative effect of this level of housing development in a small rural town such as Potton.”

The scheme was approved by ten votes to one, with one abstention.