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Council to challenge inspector’s approval for eco home plan

An artist’s impression of the type of eco home approved for open countryside near Eakring. Newark and Sherwood District Council will seek a judicial review into a planning inspector’s decision to approve plans for the homes
An artist’s impression of the type of eco home approved for open countryside near Eakring. Newark and Sherwood District Council will seek a judicial review into a planning inspector’s decision to approve plans for the homes

A judicial review is being sought over a decision by a planning inspector to allow nine eco homes to be built on the edge of a village.

The director for growth with Newark and Sherwood District Council, Mr Matt Lamb, said they would be seeking a judicial review on the decision for the homes on the outskirts of Eakring, after seeking advice that said a review was “reasonable, proportional and necessary.”

The application by Dr Chris and Louise Parsons for the environmentally-sustainable eco homes was turned down by the council’s planning committee in May, 2016.

The application also sought permission for a wildlife area, allotments, drainage reed bed and pond system, cycle storage and electric car recharging facilities.

It was rejected because the homes would have been built in open countryside.

Planning guidelines say that new homes should not be built in open countryside unless there are special circumstances.

The committee said it would be an inappropriate form of development and, while the design and innovation had clear merits, they did not constitute the special circumstances needed to outweigh the inappropriateness of the proposal.

Dr Parsons said the application had been supported by the village and the parish council, who said there was a need for small housing units for rent by local people.

The matter went to appeal and a decision was reached last month in which an inspector allowed the application.

The inspector, Mr Brendan Lyons, said the main issue was whether the site would provide a suitable location for the development bearing in mind policies on the location of rural housing.

The applicants want to use a field on the outskirts of the village for the development, which has been conceived with the help of the Hockerton Housing Project.

The single-storey homes would be a mixture of two and three bedrooms, and would have low energy usage with slightly sloping green roofs with solar panels.

'Clearly deficient and challengeable'

Mr Lyons said he found the proposal would conflict with the policy that seeks to regulate development in the countryside but, as a result of a national policy provided by a recent High Court judgment, the conflict with the policy had greatly reduced weight.

He said the project would offer benefits in terms of the environmental performance of the homes and their support for the economic and social viability of the rural community underpinned by their controlled occupancy, low running costs and the creation of ecologically-enhanced publicly- accessible green space.

Mr Lyons said he recognised the council’s concern that the encroachment into the countryside could result in an sustainable pattern of development but said he was satisfied the decision would not create a strong precedent.

A spokesman for the district council said: “Authorisation to go to judicial review was decided with the joint agreement of the chairman of the district council’s planning committee, the council’s leader and the leader of the opposition.

“The decision was also explained to the planning committee on February 6 (where Mr Lamb made his comments) which was noted with no objections raised.

“The council and its legal counsel believe that the planning inspectorate’s decision to uphold the appeal is clearly deficient and challengeable.

“The council is judicially reviewing the decision of the planning inspectorate and not the applicant.”


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