Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Southbourne Gardens Planning Dismay

A hearing to decide whether homes can be built on former allotment land in Bath has ruled in favour of the development.

Developer Thomas Wheeler appealed to the Planning Inspectorate last year after Bath and North East Somerset Council refused permission to build 10 homes at the site in Fairfield Park.

And following a hearing, the government inspector decided to grant permission for the housing.

The Claremont Residents’ Association and local councillors had argued that the land at Southbourne Gardens is the area’s village green and should be returned to allotment use.

They opposed the application, which will see the building of eight four-bedroom houses and two three-bedroom flats, amid fears they would be losing an open space and would be disturbed by an increase of traffic in the area.

In her report the inspector said: “I appreciate that the proposed development would result in noise and disturbance from additional vehicles using the road and accessing the site, particularly in the area nearest the proposed turning head/parking area. However, I do not consider that the noise likely to be generated by those accessing the site would be likely to have such a significant effect in this residential urban environment as to warrant refusal. Although car headlights might be noticeable from some of the existing properties, the landscaping plan indicates that planting would be provided in this area to lessen any such effect.”

She added that she found that development reflected the character and appearance of the area.
The land had previously been used for grazing livestock but during the Second World War was turned into allotments.

The allotment holders were kicked off the site in the 1980s and has been left disused and unkept by the family who own it despite previous attempts by the local community to buy it and offer alternative uses.

Councillor Colin Darracott (Lib Dem, Walcot) who was strongly against the proposals said it was going to be a big disappointment for residents.

He said: “I’m bitterly disappointed, but not entirely surprised. The residents have been on the waiting list for an allotment for a long time and now they will be waiting even longer.”

An application for costs from Mr Wheeler was submitted as part of the appeal and has also been granted, on the grounds that the council was unable to give a valid enough reason for the refusal.