Withdrawal of plan leads to appeal success

The site in New Hartley which has now been given approval for housing.
The site in New Hartley which has now been given approval for housing.

A Northumberland village is set to feel the impact of the withdrawal of a key planning document after a housing bid was approved on appeal.

An application by Barratt Homes North East, for 285 houses on land north of St Michael’s Avenue in New Hartley, which sparked 805 objections from 424 residents and Seaton Valley Parish Council, has been given the go-ahead.

It was narrowly refused by the county council’s strategic planning committee in April last year, due to concerns over the standard of the affordable homes, flooding, highways safety, over-massing and the development not being sustainable, sparking an appeal.

Prior to the decision being issued, the council’s new Conservative administration decided to withdraw the core strategy, which means there is no overall development plan for the county and decisions must be made based on the previous district plans, which are largely out of date and therefore given little weight.

Neighbourhood plans, where they exist, do carry weight, as was seen in the refusal of housing plans at Alnwick’s Willowburn Industrial Estate in July, but there are so far only three in the county which have been adopted.

In his report, the planning inspector Kenneth Stone makes it clear that the withdrawal of the core strategy has played a key role in his decision.

He explains that he was informed of the document’s withdrawal after the end of the formal inquiry and that it ‘has significant implications for the decision-making process, the policy framework within which to consider the proposals and whether the council can demonstrate a five-year housing land supply’.

He goes on to say that ‘a significant proportion of the inquiry time was given over to considering the detail of the application of policies in the core strategy, including policy three, which was the only policy cited in the reason for refusal. The council had during its decision making process given significant weight to the emerging policy given its views on the extant development plan policies.’

In his conclusion, he adds: ‘Given the withdrawal of the spatial strategy in the emerging core strategy, the lack of a five-year housing land supply and the limited weight that can be attached to the settlement strategy in the extant development plan, there is little planned basis on which to identify suitable locations for development given the vacuum that now exists.’