Gearing up to fight as Kier appeals refusal

Community news.
Community news.

Campaigners have vowed that they will not give up in their fight against plans for housing on a greenfield site off Kettering Road in Stamford after it was revealed the developers are AGAIN appealing refusal.

Kier Homes put in an appeal in August to the Planning Inspectorate against South Kesteven District Council’s decision in February to refuse their plans for 29 homes on the site.

But it took months for the Planning Inspectorate to validate the 485-page appeal from Kier and the district council and the campaign group Stamford! Protect Our Green Space Group were only notified this week. Interested parties now only have until the end of the year to put together their submissions to the Planning Inspectorate.

It is the second time the developer has appealed and their third application for the same site in as many years - each time lowering the number of homes proposed.

A Kier spokesman said the firm had worked with the district council to design a scheme “suited to the area”.

He added: “The amended design sees a reduction in the number of homes, with 29 now planned and undeveloped parts of the site will be landscaped to soften the development’s impact from surrounding viewpoints.”

But campaigners say their concerns about the location of the development on a “historic greenfield site” remain valid - and that the most recent draft of the Local Plan, which sets out development in the district until 2036, allocates “more than enough housing”.

In that same draft of the Local Plan, the site is de-allocated as a development site.

And campaigners say they will not rest until this is set in stone.

Ian Campbell, a founder of the campaign group, told the Mercury this week: “We hope the Planning Inspector will do as their predecessor has done and uphold the refusal and that this will finally be the end of the road.

“But we are not giving up. We are not going away. Enough is enough.”

He added that the housing was “simply not necessary” because of residential development allocated to the north of Stamford in the draft Local Plan. And he maintained that the land should never have been allocated for housing development in the first place.

In June 2015, the Planning Inspectorate upheld the district council’s decision to refuse a previous application by Kier Homes for 49 homes, citing concerns about the density, layout, scale and appearance of the proposal.

The amended plan for 29 homes included changes to the design of the scheme and removing some car parking.

It also agreed to provide 44.8 per cent affordable housing but at the meeting where the 29-homes plan was refused in February, the district council was told that just four affordable houses would be built in Stamford with the remainder in Bourne on the Elsea Park development.

Ian said that what Stamford “really needed was housing for young people wanting to stay in Stamford - not million pound properties”.

He also said that the Stamford Neighbourhood Plan, which is currently being developed, shows that the residents want to see development to the north of town.

David Taylor, chairman of Stamford First which is developing the neighbourhood plan, said: “I am frankly amazed that Kier, faced with such overwhelming evidence which clearly demonstrates why this is the wrong development in the wrong place, are once more incurring costs for themselves and the tax payer by appealing for a second time.

“Evidence from the surveys we have undertaken with residents in preparing the neighbourhood plan clearly show that the people of Stamford do not wish for this precious area of town to be developed.

“In addition, in its recent draft Local Plan, SKDC has proposed that the land in question should be de-allocated and as a Neighbourhood Planning Group we wholeheartedly support that proposal. We are confident that SKDC will robustly defend their earlier decisions and that the planning inspector will uphold the democratic process.”

A spokesman for the Planning Inspectorate said that 20,000 appeals are dealt with every year and that appeals cannot be validated until the “appropriate procedure” had been followed - hence the delay.

He said: “The Inspector will make a decision after she has considered all the representations and other evidence submitted, together with planning policies, guidance and legislation.”

A spokesman for SKDC said the council would be writing to all consultees and people that had commented on the application to notify them of the appeal.

She said as the appeal was now underway she could not comment further.