Builders won't take no for answer
A developer is calling for a public inquiry into a council's refusal of its plans for 400 homes on farmland on the edge of a town.
Nurton Developments wants to build on land at Holywell Spring Farm, off Burton Road, Ashby.
The proposal also includes a care home for the elderly, a primary school, a medical centre and shops.
CBL (Ashby), a subsidiary of Nurton, has lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate against a decision to turn down its application, taken by North West Leicestershire District Council in July.
It claims the council's grounds for refusal – that the scheme was "outside the limits to development" and not in the preferred location for new housing in the town – were flawed.
Rupert Young, development director for CLB (Ashby), said: "We believe that we have a very good case."
The council needs to build up to 9,700 homes across the district by 2031 to meet Government housing targets.
It means building an extra 605 homes in Ashby to meet its allocation of 1,400 set out for the town in a new "core strategy" for development.
The strategy, although not yet agreed by the Secretary of State, has already been adopted.
The council would prefer a site at Money Hill, to the north of Ashby, where a consortium of Colonnade, Taylor Woodrow and Bloor Homes wants to build.
Mr Young said: "The council should not have given so much weight to its preferred direction of growth when considering our application, while there is still so much uncertainty about its core strategy."
He said that since July, other applications in Ashby had been approved despite "clearly conflicting with the reasoning applied in the decision on Holywell Spring Farm".
A public inquiry is expected to be held in the new year when the council, along with residents who want to protect the countryside and claim Ashby is already overdeveloped, will make their case.
Councillor Trevor Pendleton, the council's planning spokesman, said: "I am disappointed that the applicants have chosen to appeal, as we gave a clear indication that this development was not in the preferred direction for growth in Ashby."
Chris Tandy, vice-chairman of Ashby Civic Society, said the appeal could even result in both Holywell Spring Farm and Money Hill developments going ahead.
"Residents are angry at the overdevelopment of their small market town," he said.
"Not only has the council abjectly failed to protect it from the onslaught of developers, but through dithering and poor decisions has actively encouraged overdevelopment.
"Should this appeal succeed, it will mean a 40 per cent increase in housing in Ashby over the next few years."
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