Many people reading this will already know that the Inspector who heard the appeal against planning permission refusal for a development of 180 houses off Luck’s Lane has allowed the appeal and granted outline planning permission to Gladman (the developer), for the development.
Buckden Parish Council was opposed to the development from the outset and was a party at the Inquiry, putting forward detailed reasons why the development should not be allowed. We are understandably very disappointed that the permission has been granted, but we recognise that due process has been followed, and we must accept and make the best of the decision reached by the Inspector after he heard all the evidence on both sides.
The history is that Gladman made an application for outline planning permission in 2016, which was refused by Huntingdonshire District Council. At that time, the Parish Council made detailed arguments against the proposal and recommended refusal. Gladman appealed, and in May 2017, the appeal was heard in the form of a Public Inquiry, which lasted for nearly two weeks in the Village Hall. HDC, the Protect Buckden’s Future Group and the Parish Council were all parties at the Inquiry arguing against the development. The Parish Council argued that the development should not be allowed because of, amongst other things, traffic safety and congestion, coalescence of Buckden and Stirtloe, loss of rural amenity, and damage to heritage assets. The Inspector decided that HDC could not at that stage demonstrate a robust five-year plan to bring forward development sites to meet the housing needs of the District, and that therefore the presumption in favour of development in the Government’s national guidelines on planning policy should apply. He therefore allowed the appeal.
What about the future? Gladman will not build the development as it is not a builder, but will seek to pass on the permission to a building company. The builder must apply for detailed planning permission for the development within three years and start the development within two years of detailed permission being granted. It is not certain that the development will be built, but we assume that it will be. It is important that we do what we can to capitalise on the positive aspects and minimise the concerns that we have about the development.
The Parish Council will do everything it can, working with HDC, to ensure that disruption to our daily lives during the development is kept to a minimum and that the development is built to a high standard with the promised number of affordable dwellings. On a wider front, the Parish Council will consider developing a Neighbourhood Plan that will give us more say over future developments in the village. We shall continue to fight for an A1 bypass for Buckden and for a bridge over the East Coast mainline, which would mitigate some of the major concerns we all have about traffic. Buckden is a vibrant and inclusive village, and when the development is built and occupied, I am sure we will welcome our new neighbours and help them to become fully integrated into our community.
Alec MacAndrew – Chairman of Buckden Parish Council’s Planning Committee