Appeal hears planner’s fears

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A DEVELOPER has questioned a district council’s commitment to providing affordable housing after it turned down an application for homes to be built.

John Peecock, planning consultant for Peecock Short who are working on behalf of Flagship Housing, also believes Forest Heath district councillors have sided with residents who feel potential tenants could be ‘undesirable’.

An application to build four properties designated for affordable housing in Hall Close, Icklingham, was rejected by the council in February - despite being recommended for approval by planning officer David Beighton.

At an informal appeal hearing on Tuesday, Mr Peecock said: “We are again very concerned that a council that professes to have a very serious affordable housing problem continually keeps rejecting well thought out schemes against the professional opinion of its own officers.”

Mr Peecock said residents’ suggestions that tenants of affordable accommodation were bad for the community was affecting councillors’ decisions.

“There seems to be a problem with residents accepting the people who might take up these properties - some of the objections that were received said as much.

“The members of the council are siding with that,” he said.

Mike Moore, the inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, heard residents’ fears at the appeal.

Displaced parking, encroachment on to garden and green space and an obstructed view of adjacent fields were among their objections.

A petition to the council signed by 56 residents described the planned buildings as ‘monstrosities’, adding that the development would devalue their homes.

Representations at the appeal were given by Mr Peecock and Leslie Short on behalf of Flagship Housing, David Beighton for Forest Heath and William Ewing, on behalf of the residents.

A Forest Heath spokesman said the application was initially rejected because it contravened several points of its core strategy.