Contentious plan to build 52 homes on land outside Northamptonshire village confines unanimously rejected

'The village cannot sustain a development of this size, it's absolutely overwhelmed already and the infrastructure is creaking as it is'

By Jack Duggan
Sunday, 7th March 2021, 11:45 am

A contentious proposal to build 52 homes on the outskirts of a Northamptonshire village has been rejected by the council for being outside the development area.

South Northamptonshire Council's planning committee unanimously refused Barwood Homes' application to build on land south of The Wharf in Bugbrooke on Thursday (March 4).

The planning officer recommended denying planning approval, with other issues including the development's proximity to the Grand Union Canal and footpath as well as potential drainage problems.

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Bugbrooke councillor David Harries said the village cannot support any more new families with the schools and doctors' surgery 'overwhelmed' and the shop being too small.

"I'm pleased that report recommends refusal and I do think we must refuse and I hope we do better at protecting these large villages from over-development that will undermine the community and are entirely unsustainable," he added.

Barwood Homes wanted to 'fill in' a 2.4-hectare piece of land between the canal and The Glebe and Peace Hill with a variety of one-to-four bedroom houses, flats, bungalows and maisonettes.

But the land is outside of Bugbrooke's development plan and the council's planning officer said there was no need for it to be ignored as the local authority can demonstrate a five-year housing supply.

How the 52-home development on land to the south of The Wharf in Bugbrooke would have looked. Photo: Barwood Homes

Furthermore, inadequate distances between dwellings would be 'unacceptable' and the lack of rear garden boundary enclosures between some proposed and existing dwellings would result in a lack of privacy, the officer's report says.

Plus there could be potential harm to the Grand Union Canal Conservation Area due to lack of a soft landscaping scheme.

Bugbrooke Parish Council, Northamptonshire County Council's surface water drainage team and the CPRE, the countryside charity, all opposed the scheme, while 24 letters of objection had been received.

Councillor Harries said: "It's perfectly plain when you look at sustainability that Bugbrooke cannot sustain a development of this size, it's absolutely overwhelmed already and the infrastructure is creaking already as it is."

Ned Fox, representing the developer, argued South Northamptonshire does not have a five-year land supply and the scheme would help vulnerable families 'in limbo' on the housing waiting list.

Up to 26 properties would be 'affordable' while there would also be a new footpath connection and a net gain in biodiversity.

Mr Fox said the developer had been working with council officers for 16 months to make the application viable and believed many of the outstanding issues could be resolved.

"On the basis the benefits demonstrably outweigh the adverse impacts, the presumption in favour of sustainable development should apply," he said.

"And in summary, to avoid the cost and delay of another appeal, I would like to seek a deferral of this application so that we can fix the layout and continue to work collaboratively with officers.

"This will then enable us to further agree the landscaping details and the outstanding drainage issues to the satisfaction of the local flood authority."

Regardless, councillors decided to reject the proposal, with councillor Steven Hollowell saying: "The point is this doesn't comply with the development plan."