Plans for 28 new homes approved on appeal

Station Road Ashwell plans

The plans for 28 homes in Ashwell - Credit: Beck Homes

Developers will be allowed to build 28 new homes in Ashwell, after a planning inspector overruled the district council.

North Herts Council rejected the plans last year, after concerns were raised that it was inappropriate for the village, but the development will now go ahead.

Developers Beck Homes had previously applied to build 46 homes on a larger site, which was refused by both the district council and planning inspector.

However, the smaller revised scheme has been backed by the inspector, who concluded the building of new homes would outweigh the “moderately adverse” impact on the area.

The scheme, in Station Road, includes 11 affordable homes and 17 for the open market, with dwellings starting from one-bedroom units, up to larger detached houses.

The district council’s planning committee rejected the scheme in May 2021, after officers recommended refusal and said even the revised plans could “harm the intrinsic beauty of this area of countryside”, and was against planning policy.

Ashwell Parish Council had also lodged an objection to the proposals, citing “unacceptable” traffic impacts and damage to the impact of the character of the countryside.

However, in a decision published last week, inspector William Cooper said planning permission should be granted for the development, which will also include a wildflower meadow and woodland.

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Mr Cooper said it was important to weigh up the benefits of providing new homes in the district against any concerns about the impact on the village.

The inspector also said there was no objection to the proposals from the county council on highways grounds so would not consider traffic problems.

Hertfordshire County Council had initially objected to the proposals saying there was not the space in the village’s primary school to accommodate more children, but said updated forecasts had indicated some surplus capacity.

In his decision, Mr Cooper acknowledged a “moderate” risk of harm to the area’s character and appearance, but said this would not “significantly and demonstrably outweigh the substantial totality of planning benefits”, and the development should go ahead despite not being included in the council’s emerging Local Plan.

The decision read: “The proposal benefits from the presumption in favour of sustainable development. I find that this consideration is of sufficient weight to indicate that planning permission should be granted, notwithstanding the conflict with the development plan. I, therefore, conclude that the appeal succeeds.”