THE Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is again speaking out following a Government decision to overturn the Council’s Planning Committee’s decision to reject a new housing development in the Borough.
In December 2014 members of Planning Committee refused to grant outline planning permission for a residential development of up to 340 homes on land at Harrowgate Lane in Bishopsgarth.
The applicant, Tithebarn Land, appealed against the decision and a public inquiry was held in March 2016.
This week the appeal decision has been issued by an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. It states that the appeal has been allowed and the 340 homes should be built.
The news comes just two weeks after the Council learnt that the Government has allowed 550 homes to be built in Ingleby Barwick, despite the application being unanimously rejected by the Council’s Planning Committee.
Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: “Here we go again, this decision comes as no surprise. It is yet another example of the Government overturning a housing application rejected here, despite strong local opposition. It is further proof that the Government’s supposed wish for devolution and local decision making carries no weight at all.
“The current Government policy is a house builders’ delight. The comments made in this report confirm what we have believed all along. Government policy is always in favour of development and there is no funding available to help re-use brownfield sites for housing as an alternative to greenfield ones.”
Within the appeal decision the Inspector states that: “In the context of this appeal, the presumption in favour of sustainable development means that permission for this scheme should be granted.
“Just as the Core Strategy was adopted the Government altered the basis of the financial support for urban regeneration here. The funds to foster the development of the risky or difficult sites allocated for development in the ‘core area’ were either insufficient or unavailable.
“The sites relied on in the Core Strategy to deliver housing remain either undeliverable or likely to accommodate far fewer dwellings than originally anticipated, given current marketing conditions and Government funding arrangements. It is thus necessary to pursue sites capable of development without significant public subsidy and reasonably attractive to the market in order to achieve the housing required. The proposed greenfield ‘West of Stockton Strategic Urban Extension’ would fulfil that requirement.”
He added: “In the current market conditions and under current funding arrangements, I consider that it would offer the only reasonable prospect of homes likely to be needed in the Borough.”