Kemble Top Farm planning inquiry ends

First published in Cotswolds news by

AN INQUIRY into a controversial proposal which could see 50 new homes built in Kemble has ended.

Kemble Farms Ltd applied for outline planning permission to build 43 new homes and 34 extra care units – which was later revised to 50 homes – at Top Farm on the South West of Kemble in September 2010.

The application proved controversial within the village, with a survey conducted by the Parish Council showing more than 83 per cent of residents were against the proposal and Cotswold District Council’s planning department refused to grant planning permission.

At the end of the three-day inquiry on Tuesday Solicitor Harry Wolton QC, representing Kemble and Ewen Parish Council, summed up his arguments that planning permission should be refused.

Among these were that there was no demand for the homes and that Kemble had not been identified as suitable for more than “small scale development”.

He added that Parish Council chairman Cllr Roger Pettit had said the development would lead to Kemble being seen as “a suburb of Cirencester rather than a freestanding rural village”.

“Kemble and Ewen Parish Council has shown itself to be thoroughly responsible and efficient in taking soundings from the local residents as to their views on this proposal,” he added.

“They have shown conclusively that they are neither NIMBYS nor do they have a “drawbridge” approach to proposals for new development.”

Speaking on behalf of CDC, solicitor Saira Kabir Sheikh said the council firmly believed the development should not go ahead.

“The evidence has shown that the development would be significantly harmful to the character and appearance of the village of Kemble,” she said.

Describing the proposed development as “a vast suburban block”, she added that it would have significant negative impact on the Conservation Area.

She also argued the public transport and other facilities in the town were not suitable for a large population, and that the council was on target to meet it’s housing land supply targets, and therefore the development was not needed.

Representing the applicants, solicitor Guy Williams, argued CDC had not demonstrated that it had met its affordable housing targets and that the development would in fact be a step towards achieving this.

Describing the council’s arguments that the development would be damaging to the village as “incomprehensible”, he added that many of the village’s facilities such as the school and the shop were in favour of the proposal.

“The council have not made out any substantial harm let alone harm that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the social and economic benefits of delivering needed housing and affordable housing and supporting the rural economy and community,” he said.

Planning inspector Keith Manning said he will present his report on the week beginning January 14.

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