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A Five Billion Pound National Disgrace

Having watched the progressive degradation of Government policy on planning and transport in England over the past 15 years, I thought I was beyond being shocked. But a quick analysis of the Government announcement on its five billion quid Housing Infrastructure Fund left me speechless. Well, almost...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 04 February 2018

Transformational Dreams

Thanks to a quirky coincidence, I was in a small town in the north of England when Transport for the North launched its Strategic Transport Plan, setting out its aspirations for what it grandly called transformational growth over the next third of a century. Well, quite a lot of the north is in need...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 21 January 2018

An Egregious Future

Few elephants live in this country and most of those that do live in zoos. So conservation of them is unlikely to figure in any 25-year environment strategy, which is a pity, as the Plan published by the Government yesterday must have had two very large pachyderms roaming silently around the launch ...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 12 January 2018

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Racing carries substantial weight at Newmarket

Added on 07 September 2016

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has turned down three major greenfield housing applications in the East of England, including a development outside Newmarket he concluded would threaten the horse racing industry.

Mr Javid overturned an inspector’s recommendation to approve Lord Derby’s proposal for 400 homes on 20ha of arable land at Hatchfield Farm north of Newmarket.

He concluded it would have been in accordance with emerging local and neighbourhood plans but gave them little weight. He gave moderate weight to the scheme’s economic and benefits, significant weight to its highway benefits and substantial weight to its housing benefits.

“However, he considers that the threat to the horse racing industry carries substantial weight against the proposal,” says the decision.

“He further considers that the risks arising from increased traffic at the Rayes Lane horse crossing carry moderate weight. He considers that the loss of countryside and best and most versatile agricultural land also carries moderate weight against the proposal.”

He accepted the Council has a five-year supply of land and there are no material considerations to contradict the development plan.

Mr Javid also dismissed two appeals against rejection of schemes for up to 1,500 greenfield homes in Uttlesford district.

He supported rejection by the District Council and inspector of a scheme by Fairfield (Elsenham) for 800 homes plus offices, light industry and a school on high-grade farmland north-west of Great Dunmow.

Local plan policies are out-of-date but the Council has a five-year supply and there would have been harm to the countryside, though this time he only gave limited weight to the loss of 40ha of high-quality farmland.

“The Secretary of State concludes, in agreement with the inspector that the adverse impacts of this proposal would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken as a whole and as such the proposal does not amount to sustainable development,” says the decision.

He also agreed with the Council and inspector’s rejection of plans by the same developer for 700-800 homes plus employment space and school north-east of Elsenham. Many of the same considerations applied.

The decisions may leave planning consultants scratching their heads to discern a pattern in appeal decisions by the new minister.

Mr Javid has also upheld an appeal against West Oxfordshire District Council’s refusal of plans by Gladman Developments for 260 homes on farmland north-west of Witney.

The Council could not meet the so-called “five-year supply” and its local plan is out-of-date.

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