Controversial housing development approved on appeal despite local opposition

Waltham residents unhappy as housing project gets green light
Ivan Morris Poxton

Ivan Morris Poxton

Controversial housing development approved on appeal despite local opposition

Sixty-four homes on land on the edge of Waltham have been allowed on appeal, much to ward councillors’ disappointment.

Snape Properties Ltd’s application for the development on land off Torbay Drive was unanimously rejected by councillors at a packed planning committee in November 2022. The proposal is outside the local plan, and it was rejected also on highways grounds.

There were concerns too about the erosion of the Scartho and Waltham strategic gap. But Snape Properties has successfully appealed to the planning inspectorate, and even been awarded partial costs against the council.

Waltham Ward Cllr Philip Jackson and Scartho Ward Cllr Ron Shepherd objected to the development and were both disappointed by the appeal decision. “I’m extremely disappointed and annoyed with that decision,” said Cllr Jackson.

“At the time when the application was considered, we couldn’t demonstrate a five year supply of housing land.” Now, North East Lincolnshire Council could show a more than 13 year supply.

“It’s just going to lead to more overdevelopment of that part of North East Lincolnshire,” warned Cllr Jackson. He said the inspector’s decision was “totally out of touch with the real situation pertaining to North East Lincolnshire and that particular part of the borough”.

The new development will include 22 two-bed semi bungalows, seven two-bed detached bungalows, two three-bed detached bungalows, 20 three-bed semi houses, six four-bed semi houses and three four-bed detached houses. Single-storey homes will be closer to existing housing and the scheme’s access road will be Torbay Drive.

Snape Properties had an application for over 50 new homes in the same location rejected back in 2018. When this application was rejected last November, councillors heard from an agent on behalf of Snape Properties. He emphasised the company had a good track record of delivering sites in North East Lincolnshire, and argued it “should be seen as a benchmark scheme”, to raise borough development standards.

The developers would leave half the site as green, with a pond, and there will be S106 funding for local education. Cllr Shepherd was “appalled” by the outcome. “It’s a development in open countryside outside of the local plan.”

“Why are we even bothering to have an updated local plan for the next five years,” he said, when a unanimous council refusal of an application outside of it could be overturned. “Waltham’s identification as a village will be gone because it’s being eroded by a number of applications that are going in.”

Planning inspector Bhupinder Thandi BA (Hons) MA MRTPI found the refusal on highways impact grounds was based without justifiable evidence, and noted council highways had not objected. “Generalised
assertions about the proposal’s impact amounted to unreasonable behaviour
and resulted in the applicant incurring unnecessary expense,” the inspector found in awarding partial costs.

“I was absolutely amazed at that,” said Cllr Jackson. He called it a “perverse outcome”, adding: “In my view, this was not an unreasonable decision. The planning committee was taking into account very legitimate local concerns.”

There would be “some minor conflict” with the local plan, the planning inspectorate found, but this was outweighed by the scheme’s “economic, social and environmental benefits”. The inspectorate gave significant positive weight to 20 percent of the development being affordable housing. This was because the council could not show it was meeting the needs of the local community in delivering affordable homes.

Cllr Jackson felt this was not “a valid argument”, given the application was not any different in affordable homes to others. He also felt the strategic gap between Scartho and Waltham had not been properly considered. In the inspectorate’s report, it was assessed that the scheme “would not unduly harm the existing visual relationship” between the two areas.

Cllr Shepherd also questioned evidence given by the developer during the appeal, specifically how valued a traffic survey in the summer school holidays could be for measuring traffic flow.

The inspector recognised there would be encroachment into the countryside and urbanisation of the farmland site. But he viewed it as a “logical extension of the established built form”. The planning inspector was also satisfied “the proposed development would not generate unacceptable levels of traffic or lead to driver frustration”.

The developers have been reached out to for opportunity to comment.