Planning permission granted for controversial site

PLANNING permission for a housing development with a controversial history has been granted by North Herts District Council (NHDC).

The Ivy Farm site off Baldock Road, Royston, was first earmarked for the development of almost 200 properties by Redrow Homes in July 2009.

Residents have strongly opposed the plans since then, and they have been scaled down to the building of just 81 dwellings.

Rod Kennedy, who led a campaign against the site and lives in nearby Heathfield, said that the changes were satisfactory.

“I think the outcome of this is satisfactory for residents around here, and the developers,” said the former town mayor.

“Redrow have been very understanding of our concerns and although there will still be some people who are annoyed at the development, this is fairly reasonable.

“When permission first went in it was for 200 properties, but the number has come down, and the layout and density has been changed.”

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The development is for six five-bedroomed homes, 46 four-bedroomed homes, ten three-bedroomed homes and 19 two-bedroomed homes.

There will be 49 market-priced and 32 affordable-price homes, and some will have garages, parking, and cycle storage. A pond and a play area will also be built.

Royston’s MP Oliver Heald, who said the plans were “completely out of order” when they were announced, agreed that the outcome was improved.

“I did make strong representations against the original plans and they have listened and reduced the numbers and improved the layout greatly,” he said.

“We all made our feelings clear as this is opposite the Heath, and is such an important area of outstanding natural beauty.

“The danger is that if NHDC didn’t accept a proposal which has been greatly improved, then later on down the line we could have ended up with something worse.”

However, Mr Kennedy and Mr Heald shared concerns over the possibility of further development, and the speed of traffic on Baldock Road.

Mr Kennedy said: “We will certainly do all we can to stop any development further towards the Heath.

“This should definitely be the last development to the west of Royston, as anything further would affect the view to and from such a wonderful area.

“There is a worry about the road too. The police know there is speeding down there and it would be good to get more traffic calming measures in.”

Cllr Tom Brindley, planning portfolio holder, confirmed the development had been passed at the NHDC planning control committee meeting last Thursday.

“The developer has addressed the council’s concerns regarding appearance, layout and scale and the planning committee agreed that the scheme for just 81 houses, including a welcome and much-needed 32 affordable units, meets the council’s design criteria.

“I am sure that this modest growth will help towards the long-term sustainability of historic Royston.”

Demolition has already begun at the site.