Planning officers against new homes plan

PLANS to add a further 50 homes to a housing development have been given the thumbs down by planning officers.

Six existing buildings would have to be demolished to accommodate the scheme, which would see the dwellings added to the Ivy Farm development, off Baldock Road in Royston.

It is set to be discussed by North Herts District Council’s planning committee, and the council’s planning officers have recommended that the application by landowner EW Pepper be turned down.

Explaining their recommendation, the planning officers said that as the site falls into what is designated a “rural area”, building houses there would be contrary to this District Local Plan.

“This policy seeks to maintain the existing character of the countryside and does not support a development of the type proposed,” they said.

The officers’ report also recommends the application be refused as it falls short of “the requirement set out in the National Planning Policy Framework tha new development must take the opportunity to improve the character of an and the way it functions.”

Outline planning permission for up to 100 homes on stage one of the Ivy Farm development was granted in June 2010. This was later revised to 81 nine months later when developers Redrow Homes were given the green light to start work, and construction is currently ongoing.

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In it’s application, EW Pepper states that it believes the scheme is not in a rural area, but rather “a sustainable and proportionate extension of Royston.”

It adds that, if the development went ahead, it would make “a valuable contribution to housing in the district,” and that up to 20 of the properties would be classified as affordable housing.

However Royston Town Council registered it’s opposition to the plans last month, flagging up several issues including safety concerns about the increased use of the rail crossing near Ivy Farm. Kevin Atkins, 26, died after he was struck by a train near the crossing earlier this year.

The plans will be voted on when the district council’s planning committee meets on Thursday.