CONCERNS have been raised over Cotswold District Council’s decision to refuse a housing application despite being warned they were unlikely to win in the event of an appeal that could end up costing the taxpayer thousands.
An application submitted by Kensington & Edinburgh Estates to build 120 homes on land next to Fairford Football Club was refused by CDC’s planning committee last week, although information later surfaced which means the decision will be reconsidered at the next planning meeting.
The officers’ original recommendation was to permit the plans as long as affordable housing was provided as well as financial contributions towards local schools and libraries.
However, CDC’s planning committee refused the application by a vote of 10 to five.
The scheme had prompted 161 letters of objection from local residents and organisations and was opposed by Fairford Town Council together with Quenington, Southrop and Meysey Hampton parish councils.
FTC’s concerns centred on flooding issues which was the reason members of CDC’s planning committee gave for refusing the scheme.
However, after the decision was made, a planning appeal decision for a development in Bourton-on-the-Water was received in which Thames Water said it was able to resolve flooding and sewer issues in the north Cotswolds village.
The announcement was enough to see planning officers suggest that Fairford’s flooding could also be tackled in the same way and the application should therefore be reconsidered.
The committee’s original decision to refuse the application has prompted criticism as it comes just weeks after the authority lost a costly High Court battle against a development in Tetbury.
A High Court judge rejected CDC’s appeal after hearing that the authority was not building an adequate number of new homes to meet Government targets.
At last week’s planning meeting, officers said the authority was likely to lose if permission for Kensington & Edinburgh’s scheme was refused and the developers appealed the decision.
However, committee members still kicked out the plans. As well as flooding concerns, councillors said access to the site was dangerous.
Cllr Joe Harris said the flooding concern was serious as it included sewage leaks, a health risk.
If the scheme does go ahead Fairford FC will benefit from the scheme through either a club refurbishment or entirely new ground and club president Mike Tanner said he would be disappointed if it did not go ahead.
“This development has long term benefits for the football club,” he said. “I think the council is struggling for reasons for refusal. The developers will probably take it to appeal and with CDC’s track record of appealing it will be interesting to see what will happen.”
A Thames Water spokesman acknowledged flooding was an issue in Fairford but said the company had no objection to the scheme.
After the meeting Simon Hoare from Kensington & Edinburgh said he was surprised and disappointed that the application was refused as there had been clear advice from Thames Water that flooding was not an issue, while Gloucestershire County Council had no issue over what councillors called dangerous access.
“We’ll either resubmit the application, submit a different one, or appeal," he said. "Going off and doing something else is not an option."
WE asked residents from Tetbury and Fairford what they thought about the council's decision...
Richard Avis, 49, Tetbury
“Refusing the Fairford application was a bad idea. It is just lost money that should be spent elsewhere. Tetbury needs development too and people want to move to this area but we’ve got no houses for them.”
Peggy Everett, 70, Tetbury
“A lot depends on where the developers want to build in Fairford. Will more developments mean more flooding? But refusing this application could cost a lot and taxpayers’ money should be spent on other things.”
Richard Gibbings, 75, Tetbury
“I don’t think the council has got a lot of money to do this really but they were right to refuse the development.”
Mike Scott, 74, Fairford
“The council is absolutely correct to have refused. There are too many houses being built in too short a space of time. If someone wants to build all these houses then there needs to be more employment opportunities.”
Lynne Joyce, 66, Fairford
“Developers should just leave that area green. The council were right to say no to it, but not if it means they are going to have to go to court and pay lots of money.”
Julie Warren, 70, Fairford
“Having loads of buildings completely destroys villages. I appreciate people need houses but I don’t think the fields here can cope.”
Andrew Doherty, 41, Fairford
“More houses are needed in Fairford but the development planned by the football club was too vague with what facilities developers could offer.”
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