‘Victory for residents of Bures’ as planning inspector upholds demolition notice
- Credit: JAMES FREWIN
Villagers are celebrating a major victory in a long-running campaign against a controversial housing development.
The residents of Bures St Mary have been fighting a six-home development on the site of a former slaughterhouse in Cuckoo Hill - which was built in breach of the original planning permission.
Babergh District Council later approved plans for four of the six houses by development company The Stemar Group, but the council issued an enforcement notice in August 2019 for plots five and six – which were found to be a greater height than originally approved.
MORE: Homes given go-ahead despite fears they are ‘too high’Stemar Group appealed, but Planning Inspector Diane Lewis has upheld the notice, which means the buildings would have to be demolished if Stemar does not comply within nine months.
The council’s case was that the house on plot five was 1.07m higher than approved, while on plot six the ridge height of the house was too high by 0.92m. Plot five was also found to be sited 0.81m further south than permitted.
In her appeal decision, the inspector said plots five and six caused “serious harm to the local environment and residents’ living conditions”.
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Clare Frewin, whose Grade II-listed house is overlooked by the development, said the inspector’s decision was a “victory for the residents of Bures”.
She said: “Hundreds of submissions were made against the development and all the concerns raised by the parish council and community regarding the plot positions, increased ground height and dominating impacts of plots five and six have been 100% validated by the Planning Inspector.”
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She added: “I just hope that Babergh stick to their word and demolition results in demolition. We have got a long nine months ahead of us really.”
MORE: Villagers ‘no confidence’ petition in council planners over houses rowKenn Butcher, chairman of the Keep Bures Beautiful group, said: “Obviously I am pleased with the outcome of the inquiry as there were a wide range of issues at stake with the possibility of national precedents being set as to what is, and what is not, acceptable.
“Personally I felt that the buildings on plots five and six were far too close and far too tall to be adjacent to any home, let alone a Grade-II cottage such as White Horse House.”
The inspector’s report said the development conflicted with planning policy “in that it would not be of an appropriate scale, form and siting to harmonise with the listed building [White Horse House] and its setting, nor would it respect the space and views of the listed building that contribute positively to its setting”.
Gill Jackson, chairman of Bures St Mary Parish Council, said the inspector’s decision was “very important” to the residents of Bures, and was also of “great significance” to others involved in disputes elsewhere, but added: “I am only sorry that Diane Lewis was not considering the whole site.”
A spokesperson for Babergh District Council said there was an outstanding planning condition in relation to plots one to four, and one in relation to all six plots, but the authority is committed to resolving them with the developer and is not currently pursuing any formal enforcement action.
MORE: New petition launched as villagers’ fight against new homes continuesClive Arthey, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “We welcome this decision by the Planning Inspectorate. This is positive news for the village of Bures St Mary – and sends a clear message to developers that Babergh District will take action where required if planning permissions or conditions are breached.
“Our planning officers have fought long and hard to get the best possible outcome for residents and the community. We will now continue to work with all parties to see the matter resolved. Should an alternative application be made, as anticipated by the planning inspector, we will keep an open mind and ensure that the views of the community and the parish council are fully taken into account.”
Marnie Tappenden, a director of Stemar Group Ltd, said the company would now submit a new planning application to make the necessary alterations - to avoid demolition.
On the inspector’s decision, she said: “It’s a very disappointing position, which we find to be unfair.
“I can actually say it was never us who put the planning permission in on the site in the beginning. We bought it with planning. The site is on a hill.”
She added: “We cannot look back, we have got to move forward.”