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Professional Standards And Advocacy

The blog by Nigel Pearce yesterday, see below, has created something of a Twitter storm around the issue of just how objective should a planning consultant be when working for a client in support of scheme. Well, it would be easy to say that you never hear of a consultant telling a client their sche...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 18 June 2018

Structural Dishonesty In The Planning System

Underneath the topsoil of local councils and developers in England, and presumably elsewhere in the UK, lies a substratum of consultants, both national and international, who are making a great deal of money out of the planning system. When developers employ consultants to carry out sustainability ...

Posted by Nigel Pearce on 17 June 2018

Why Land Squandering Goes On And On And On

One of the great mysteries of planning in this country is why the most densely populated country in Europe goes on squandering its land with the lowest residential density development in Europe. I must apologise to readers outwith England here, as it-apos-s England I-apos-m referring to, though land...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 02 June 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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