Councillors representing Uttoxeter feel let down and disappointed after their own planning committee controversially allowed a “concrete jungle” of homes to be built across swathes of the town’s countryside.
Last week, East Staffordshire Borough Council’s planners voted in favour of the Hazelwalls Farm development, which will see 429 homes built on land off Timber Lane.
The decision came despite 323 letters of objection from Uttoxeter residents – and town MP Andrew Griffiths – with widespread concern about potential flooding, congestion and inadequate infrastructure.
Developer David Wilson Homes will provide £6.4 million in 106 money for education, health and sports provision, planning officers claimed controlled drainage would reduce flooding 60 per cent and highways chiefs said roads would still operate within capacity.
The housing estate will extend beyond Uttoxeter’s official settlement boundary. Now Uttoxeter’s borough councillors, George Allen and Sue McGarry, fear this will set a precedent for future developments.
Councillor Allen said: “I was surprised and disappointed by the decision. This decision may open the door to future applications outside the settlement boundaries as shown in the council’s Local Plan, potentially bringing unwanted large-scale development to the town.
“I have serious concerns that the committee has not been given all the information necessary to make an informed decision as the report presented to them gave no justification for development outside the settlement boundary.
“I maintain my support of this site being allocated for development in the Local Plan, but I cannot support more land being developed outside that allocation.
“We must always ensure that any development will not have unreasonable negative effects on existing residents, transport infrastructure and local facilities.”
Councillor McGarry said: “Part of one site will be outside of the settlement boundary as set out in the Local Plan.
“This goes against what is stipulated not only in the local plan but also in Uttoxeter’s own Neighbourhood Plan, which was accepted by referendum earlier this year.
“Some of the information in the officer’s report was disputed and at times the committee had to wait for officers to find the correct information.
“At one point after two hours of debate the chair of the committee suggested a 20-minute comfort break.
“The transport report produced for the applicant was not independent, as it clearly stated it was written for the applicant in support of the application.
“This seemed very one-sided and we were told the survey information in the report had been taken from surveys from 2006, 2009 and 2014, and then one further day on in July 2016 and the information was based on projected growth.
“Hazelwalls Impact Group has over 200 members and they all feel extremely let down by their council. I can only concur with their feelings.”
A spokesman for East Staffordshire Borough Council said: “The planning committee considered the report at its meeting on July 18.
“The members of the committee also received written and verbal updates that were provided by officers, taking account of the representations that had been made following the publication of the agenda, as well as the presentations made as part of the public speaking arrangements.
“The committee carefully considered and debated the scheme across the range of planning issues raised and resolved to approve the application subject to an updated list of conditions and the completion of a legal agreement to secure a comprehensive package of infrastructure contributions.”
The new estate will be accessed from Sorrell Close and Abbots Bromley Road.
Three sets of traffic lights will be installed at the junction of Stafford Road and Abbots Bromley Road and its adjoining grass verge will be made smaller.
The new estate will be made up of eight one-bed flats, 72 two-bedroom homes including 10 bungalows, 134 three-bed houses and 215 four-bed properties.
It will also provide eight hectares of “public green space” and a new half-hourly bus service will transport residents to and from the site.