‘Bullied’ councillors reject officer advice and turn down Ampleforth housing plan (From Gazette & Herald)
Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YOGAZ to 80360 or send an email»
‘Bullied’ councillors reject officer advice and turn down Ampleforth housing plan
COUNCILLORS who claimed they were being bullied over the controversial plan to build a housing estate in Ampleforth, again defied planning officers’ advice and turned the scheme down last week, partly due to the revelation that corncrakes could inhabit the site.
The committee had refused to give permission for the 30-home development a month ago after strong opposition from Ampleforth residents, but it was deferred at the request of officers to allow a “cooling off” period. They said Ryedale District Council could face costs awarded against it if the developer, David Wilson Homes, goes to an appeal.
In a debate which lasted 90 minutes and at times became heated, Coun Jim Bailey (Con) said the village could not sustain a development of that size. And Coun Lindsay Burr (Lib Dem) said: “We are being bullied by Government legislation. While I respect our officers’ advice, I feel this development is too big for a small village like Ampleforth. We need to listen to local people.”
Referring to the possible threat of appeal costs, she said: “We don’t want to waste public money but we can’t be bullied.” Coun Burr added that the scheme was premature until Ryedale’s overall housing strategy was decided.
Her comments were endorsed by Coun Ann Hopkinson (Con) who said: “We are under so much pressure and being bullied. It seems we are not being allowed to choose how to vote.”
Coun Caroline Goodrick (Con) agreed, saying: “I feel we are being hit over the head. We are excluding the views of the people of Ampleforth.”
But Coun Peter Walker (Ind) said he agreed with the officers, adding: “I cannot jeopardise Ryedale Council’s finances.”
Gary Housden, planning manager for Ryedale District Council, said: “It will cost us, that’s what we are really saying.”
He said the scheme did not undermine Ryedale’s planning strategy because Ampleforth was considered to be a service village with amenities.
Dr Frank Ellis said the site was, he believed, a wildlife habitat, including corncrakes, a protected species.
Mrs Patricia Pite, speaking for the parish council, said to approve the plan would be against the wishes of residents who had carried out a poll, resulting in it being recommended for refusal by 228 votes to 35. Council solicitor Anthony Winship said a parish poll carried “extremely little weight” in planning terms.
The committee voted to reject the scheme on the grounds that it would be harmful to the character of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and that there was insufficient evidence that it was not a site for protected species.