Saturday, 21 July 2018

Residents protest at planning inquiry

A PROTEST was held at the start of a planning inquiry into a proposed housing development in Benson

A PROTEST was held at the start of a planning inquiry into a proposed housing development in Benson.

Graeme Dodd has applied for planning permission for 159 homes on land north of Littleworth Road, which is owned by his father-in-law Ray Stiles. These would include 107 houses, 41 retirement flats and 11 retirement bungalows.

He originally applied to build 177 homes before amending his application.

Protestors gathered outside Benson parish hall on Wednesday morning.

They claim architects West Waddy changed the plans at the last minute in order to increase the density of housing, change Littleworth Road from one-way traffic to two-way and remove an historic hedgerow and the proposed green boundary.

They say the development would seriously damage the historic character of the village and destroy good quality farming land.

Resident John Lant said: “We understand that Benson needs new homes but this simply isn’t the way to go about it.

“Local residents have clearly stated a preference for several smaller pockets of development spread across the village, not a sprawling homogenous estate which destroys far reaching views, prime farm land and an historic part of the village enjoyed by the whole community.

“We feel that the dramatic changes that have been made to the application at such a late stage have removed residents’ right to have their voice properly heard.”

The public inquiry was sparked by Mr Dodd when he appealed against the district council’s failure to make a decision on his original application last year.

West Waddy argues that the site is in a “good and sustainable” location for housing.

It says: “The only adverse impact identified as a result of the proposed development would be the loss of a green field that is private land, with no public access, and plays no significant role in defining the character of Benson.

“The development of green field sites in order for the council to fulfil its housing obligation is almost a certainty, the need being so high.”

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