COUNCILLORS were met with cheers from members of the public after turning down a controversial plan for more than 200 homes in Kirkbymoorside.
A lively planning meeting of Ryedale District councillors held last night (February 4) saw all but one councillor vote to reject Gladman Developments application for 225 homes on land at Westfield.
The chairman of the planning committee, Councillor John Raper, was the only member to support the application, which was described as a recipe for disaster The plans had originally been recommended for approval. But in a dramatic turn of events, Coun Raper called for an adjournment mid-way through the meeting as debates surrounding possible reasons for refusal and figures regarding the council's five-year housing supply plan became heated.
Coun Raper's decision was met with discontent remarks from about 80 members of the public at the meeting, but council officers said that the chairman was entitled to adjourn a meeting at any point.
The proposed development has been dogged by controversy since Gladman Developments' original application was approved last August when a councillor inadvertently pressed the wrong button on the council’s electronic voting system. This time, councillors voted by way of a show of hands.
Residents of Kirkbymoorside, including the town Mayor Chris Dowie, spoke out against the development and urged councillors to turn it down.
Deputy Mayor for the town Judy Watson told the committee she felt councillors had ignored the objections submitted by the town council.
“It is a recipe for disaster. I plead with you to think of the devastating effect 1,000 more residents would have on the town of Kirkbymoorside,” she said.
Brian Hewitt made reference at the meeting to the councils Local Plan Strategy with regard to housing development, a matter which caused a heated debate.
He said: “The Ryedale plan is a castle built on sand. Kirkbymoorside is being a sacrificial lamb to protect Ryedale.”
Gladman’s original application was for 210 homes and 50 care apartments for the elderl,y but was amended following the announcement last year that the decision would face Judicial Review.
The revised plans featured an extra 15 houses and removed the care home facilities.
Planning and development manager for Gladman, Tim Dean, said that 35 per cent of the homes built would be affordable housing and five per cent would be bungalows for elderly people.
He said: “I would ask the planning committee to make the decision based on the absence of a five year housing supply.
“Overall the site will prove over £2.5m in new homes bonus over the next six years.”
Councillor John Clark asked council officers to clarify whether there was a five-year housing supply and what the figures were.
In November last year the council said the five-year housing supply was approximately 5.8 years, but officers at the meeting were pushed by councillors for a more recent number.
In October last year council officers said they had not let the housing supply fall below five years, but new figures discussed at the meeting suggested that it was 4.79 years. Without a five-year land supply, the National Planning Policy Framework states that permission should be granted to applications unless any adverse impacts outweigh the benefits.
Councilllor Tommy Woodward said: “No one tonight has been able to prove that we don’t have a five year land supply. It’s time for us to grow something and say that we believe we do have a five-year land supply and let Gladman challenge it.”
Council solicitor Anthony Winship reminded councillors of the impending Judicial Review and warned them of the “very serious financial implications” of not coming up with a sufficient reason to refuse the application on planning grounds.
He said: “The reasons I have heard put forward for refusal are potentially fraught with danger. Great care needs to be taken in the reasons for refusal. One reason for refusal is sufficient.”
Despite members of the council and public arguing that the development is too large for the town, or the damage it would cause to the agricultural land and infrastructure, councillors will put forward the official reason for refusal at a planning meeting on Tuesday, February 11.