Ampleforth homes plan put on ice

A CONTROVERSIAL scheme to build 30 homes in Ampleforth has been turned down by councillors – but the fight looks set to continue.

Planning officers at Ryedale District Council had recommended approval of the development by David Wilson Homes on land in Station Road, but members of the planning committee decided it should not go ahead after councillors and residents said they were worried about its impact on the area.

The council’s head of planning, Gary Housden, said that while the committee had turned down the application last week, it would be deferred to the next meeting in March for a “cooling off” period which is allowed under the authority’s constitution. It would be debated again on March 12 when a “final decision” would be taken by councillors.

Coun Jim Bailey (Con) said the proposed scheme would be damaging to the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, of which Ampleforth is a part.

“We need to have restraint. Our heritage needs protection,” he said.

The parish council clerk, Victoria Ellis, said the development was too large for Ampleforth because it would have an impact on such facilities as the doctors’ surgery and on the sewage system. The design of the development was not in sympathy with Ampleforth, added Ms Ellis.

Coun Lindsay Burr (Lib Dem) said: “We should listen to the objectors and the parish council. It is a huge development in a beautiful village, and would not be in keeping with it.”

A poll in the village had resulted in 288 residents against the plan and just 35 in favour.

Josephine Evans, one of the leading opponents of the scheme, said after the meeting: “This development is totally inappropriate for Ampleforth with its narrow roads and steep hills. It could result in 60 more cars a day going through the village if the development goes ahead.”

Anthony Winship, the authority’s solicitor, said: “It is a difficult decision when there is such strength of opposition.” But, he added, there had to be compelling reasons to refuse it because it could result in a penalty against the district council.

The committee’s official decision was: “This item was deferred at the request of the head of planning for a “cooling off” period following a refusal contrary to the officers’ recommendation. The matter now stands referred to the next meeting on March 12.”

Mr Housden, the authority’s head of planning, said Ampleforth had been designated a service village by the authority – one which could accommodate development because of the facilities it had including schools, a surgery and two pubs.

He told the Gazette & Herald later: “Part of the council’s constitution which contains this proviso for a “cooling off” period is to enable the matter to be reviewed by officers and legal advisors in the cold light of day and for officers to carefully consider the reasons for refusal that only emerged at the end of what was a very lengthy debate.”

Mr Housden added: “We will consider that information and report back to members at the next meeting of the planning committee when it will be debated again in the light of that further work and a final decision will be made. If it is refused then David Wilson Homes will, of course, have the opportunity to appeal that decision.”

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