Parish council could find 'no formal reason for objection' to Christchurch houses- but Fenland Council and a Government inspector both did

PUBLISHED: 17:51 06 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:51 06 April 2017

Farmer Paul Russell wanted to build these  houses on land north west of The Ferns, Padgetts Road, Christchurch and called in Graham Nourse to prepare his case when he lodged an appeal against the refusal by Fenland Council.

Farmer Paul Russell wanted to build these houses on land north west of The Ferns, Padgetts Road, Christchurch and called in Graham Nourse to prepare his case when he lodged an appeal against the refusal by Fenland Council.

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Farmer Paul Russell - who used a former planning chief at Fenland Council to argue his case to be allowed to build two houses at Christchurch- has lost his application on appeal.

Mr Russell had wanted to build the houses on land north west of The Ferns, Padgetts Road, Christchurch and called in Graham Nourse to prepare his case when he lodged an appeal against the refusal by Fenland Council.

Mr Nourse – who spent seven years at Fenland Hall, four of them as chief planning officer- is now a consultant. He argued against Fenland Council’s refusal when the appeal was heard by the inspector, Jonathan Price.

However in a ruling released today Mr Price said the proposed homes would not be infill and so therefore would not comply with council policies.

The inspector was also unhappy with the consultation carried out by Mr Russell that covered 11 responses, seven in support and four against.,

“Details of the addresses of those consulted, copies of the responses and of t-he site notice have not been provided,” he said. “The summary amounts to less than one side of paper. It would not meet the minimum requirements of the council’s guidance and would fail to comprise the thorough and proportionate pre-application community consultation exercise necessary”.

Mr Price said the village was without a bus service or village shop and so therefore any new housing would mean dependency on cars to access services. This would “lend weight” to the proposal being contrary to another council policy.

There was no clear, demonstrable support from the community for the housing, he concluded. And it would create a new spur of ribbon development encroaching into the countryside.

By extending housing into the countryside it would fail to make a positive contribution to “the local distinctiveness and character of the area”. The benefit of an extra two homes would have some limited social benefit, he said, but it would not outweigh the environmental harm.

Christchurch Parish Council had told Fenland Council they could find “no formal reason for objection” but noted that a member of the public had reported “inaccuracies with the application and feels very strongly that building should not be carried out”.

Fenland Council felt farmer Mr Russell had not consulted properly with residents over the proposed homes.

The council also felt the homes would harm the character of the area, would exceed the threshold of new homes proposed for the village, and Mr Russell had offered no evidence to justify these extra homes.

Officers also agreed the village lacked services and it would be inevitable the new owners would need cars – contrary to the principle of sustainable development.

A neighbour said 47 sites had been built on or had received planning consent in recent years and if all got built would exceed recommendations of the local plan.

They also felt that if two homes were allowed on the site – where horses currently roam freely- “what would happen to the other four acres behind them?”

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