On 14.11.2018 HDC sent a press release announcing that HM Inspector had concluded that the Local Service Service planning tier, which included Bluntisham, was to be removed from the plan and that consultation would start in December 2018 to consult on this change. The notes from the inspector that triggered the press release called for the draft site allocations in Bluntisham in the PLP2036 to be removed from the plan.
Last night, Monday 19.11.2018 the two sites at Station Road came before the Development Management Committee. One of these sites was a draft allocation in the PLP2036 which the inspector proposes be removed from the plan. These plans are to build 26 new homes and 4 commercial units opposite the garage and to demolish the units on the existing site that house the cafe, chip shop, barbers & fitness studio. Despite lots of lobbying and submissions from the Parish Council and neighbours the DMC voted to approve both sites. One of the main reasons that they took this decision was as a result of advice from HDC Head of Planning Mr Andy Moffat. He wrote to all DMC members on Friday 16th November which specifically mentioned these sites and that “tilted balance” be applied, see quote below:
However, for clarity, appeal decisions and the National Planning Policy Framework 2018 (NPPF 2018) paragraph 11 make clear that until such time as the Huntingdonshire Local Plan 2036 is formally adopted the ’tilted balance’ remains engaged for decision making in relation to the supply of housing in the District. This means that planning permission should be granted for housing proposals unless:
- there is a clear reason for refusal based on the impact of a development on a habitat site(s) and/or a site of special scientific interest, a local green space, an irreplaceable habitat(s), a heritage asset or an area at risk of flooding; or
- any adverse impacts of the grant of permission would significantly and demonstrable outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the NPPF taken as a whole.
In simple terms this means that any refusal would be subject to an appeal by the applicant because tilted balance must be applied and you can’t hold back applications until you have an adopted plan, therefore any appeal against a refusal would be successful.
This is a huge disappointment , the Parish Council does not object to development in this area, but did strongly object to the commercial units on this site and have serious concerns about road safety, pedestrian safety, access issues and parking across both sites.
As we are not the applicant we can not appeal this decision but we will be working with Mr Highland and HDC planning to ensure that when the full application is submitted all conditions and obligations that come with this permission are met and closely monitored on an ongoing basis.
Further detail of this and the other outstanding applications and the Local Plan 2036 will be included in the December newsletter.