June 21, 2008

Developer ‘Puzzled’ at 400-Homes Refusal

By Chris Fay

A DEVELOPER hoping to build one of the region's most ecofriendly housing estates was refused planning permission, yesterday.

Yuill Homes applied to build up to 400 homes in Newton Aycliffe, between Greenfield Way, Middridge Road and the Cobblers Hall estate.

Eldon Whins was planned with "residential clusters" and landscaped drainage connecting to a pond to create a "sustainable urban drainage area".

Yuill said the development would help bridge the affordability gap and create the borough's most ecological development.

However, Sedgefield Borough Council's development control committee refused permission after hearing it was on a greenfield site.

Nigel Bell, land director at Yuill, said: "The planners' stance on this is a little puzzling, since the council itself has allocated this site as suitable for housing, a position reaffirmed by the Secretary of State only last year.

"Eldon Whins is a major scheme of up to 400 homes, of which 80 could be delivered in the form of affordable properties through a registered housing association.

"New housing provision has consistently failed to meet the council's own targets over recent years, exacerbating the housing shortage and affordability gap."

Yuill's ecological credentials came under fire during yesterday's meeting when it was said Durham County Council's ecologist thought there was not enough protected species data.

Natural England and the Durham Bat Group also expressed similar concerns and issues over flooding were raised.

Speaking at the meeting, Charlie Walton, Sedgefield's head of planning services, urged councillors to refuse the application.

Mr Walton said that the borough already has a seven-and-ahalf- year supply of housing in terms of housing with planning permission.

Clashing with Yuill, Mr Walton said the 11.5ha development was "contrary to the Regional Spatial Strategy" and therefore not suitable for development.

He said: "This proposal is felt to comprise inappropriate development outside the settlement boundary of Newton Aycliffe and unnecessary encroachment into the open countryside.

"The local planning authority is also of the opinion that insufficient ecological information has been supplied to date."

A further application by Yuill to build a roundabout to service Eldon Whins was also declined.

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