Court rules application for Tetbury homes at Highfield Farm and Berrels Road can go ahead

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Cllr Stephen Hirst and Cllr Barry Gibbs on the public footpath that goes through some of the farmland where housing is proposed Cllr Stephen Hirst and Cllr Barry Gibbs on the public footpath that goes through some of the farmland where housing is proposed

COTSWOLD District Council (CDC) has lost an appeal to overturn a decision to allow a development of nearly 300 houses in Tetbury.

Earlier this year the Government’s Planning Inspectorate overruled CDC’s refusal of an application by property developers Fay and Sons to build homes on green field land at Highfield Farm and Berrells Road in the town.

CDC was a described as a ‘persistent under deliverer of housing’ but CDC disagreed and appealed the decision at a judicial review, which took place in the high court in Birmingham last month.

Judge, Mr Justice Lewis, rejected the appeal as he said the decision on appeal to reverse the council's refusal of outline planning permission on the two sites was lawful.

The court heard that when Fay and Sons appealed the decision to refuse the homes, a planning inspector considered the council had persistently failed to meet targets of building houses and could only show it had enough land available for 1,711 homes over the next five years.

Because of this, a 20 per cent buffer was added onto the council's 10-year housing plan to help ensure choice and competition in the market for land.

Whilst the 20% buffer does not increase the overall level of housing  it does mean that 20% is brought forward - meaning the current landbank will need to show a 6 year supply rather than 5.

The inspector also deemed that due to that shortfall, the council’s Local Plan, which sets planning policies in a local authority area was out of date.

Following the report, Eric Pickles head of the Planning Inspectorate, voted in favour of Faye and Sons.

CDC argued that a previous report produced by the Planning Inspectorate contradicted the Highfield Farm and Berrells Road report.

The report in question was put together after property developers Kemble Farms Ltd appealed a decision by CDC to reject its plan for new homes in the village last year. It stated that CDC were nearly meeting their housing targets and the inspector only added a 5-per-cent buffer.

Mr Justice Lewis rejected CDC's appeal as he deemed there was a persistent under-delivery of housing and that the previous report had not been brought to Mr Pickles attention so it should not be considered.

Barry Gibbs CDC ward member for Tetbury said: “We are very disappointed at the outcome. As much as anything else we are particularly disappointed about the inconsistency of the inspectors report and that the judge failed to realise the inconsistencies.”

Paul Hodgkinson leader of the CDC Lib Dems, said CDC's Conservatives have failed comprehensively to protect the Cotswolds and allowed a situation to occur where there is no up to date Local Plan.

He said: “It is a very significant piece of news as it means the gates are now wide open to developers across the Cotswolds due to the Council's failure to produce an up to date Local Plan.”

David Krayem,of Highfield farm based motor racing firm Krayem Racing, said: “The irony of this case is that without the Highfield Farm and Berrells Road developments the Council's housing supply would become significantly worse and they would not be able to withstand development on sites they would object to. ”

CDC has not revealed the costs for its appeal and says it will not be fighting the decision.

At its planning meeting last week CDC passed an almost identical application to build new homes at Highfield Farm.

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