Appeal to determine disputed Kentford homes plan

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A planning appeal to determine a contentious application to build 102 houses on a Kentford stud got underway on Tuesday.

The appeal will test Forest Heath District Council’s ability to oppose planning applications in the absence of a government required five year housing land supply.

Applicant Ms Ann Gurney, on behalf of Meddler Properties Ltd and Agora Developments Ltd, lodged the appeal after the council failed to make a decision within the designated time period.

Christopher Boyle QC, representing the appellant, said Meddler Stud, Bury Road, was outside the settlement boundary of Kentford but could be considered an appropriate and sustainable extension for residential purposes.

He said: “This is an authority that is unable to demonstrate the required five year land supply for housing land which the National Planning Policy Framework indicates must be done. So policies which concern housing delivery are rendered by definition out of date.”

In the absence of a five year plan Mr Boyle said that if the council could not show that the development would cause an adverse impact that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh any benefits it should be approved.

Paul Shadarevian QC, representing the council, said that the absence of a five year housing land allocation was not in itself justification for approval.

He said that while the appellant had ‘attempted to paint a bleak picture’ of the housing shortfall the council would be able to remedy it within the next year or so.

The council has argued that the site should be retained for the horseracing industry in line with its long-standing policy.

Mr Boyle said the land at had formerly been part of a much larger stud and now contained a series of paddocks and dilapidated buildings. He said that a number of equine businesses had failed to run successfully from the site.

More than 20 objections from individuals were lodged with Forest Heath District Council prior to the appeal expressing fears including highway safety, over development, flooding, and infrastructure.

Further objections were lodged by groups including NHS Property Services Ltd, Jockey Club Estates and the Animal Health Trust.

There are a number of planning applications registered proposing residential housing in Kentford.

If Meddler Stud and all other applications were to be approved it would see more than 300 houses built in the village.

The appeal continues.