Victory for village as Barratt Homes appeal is refused

PUBLISHED: 10:00 04 December 2015

The Congresbury Residents' Action Group (CRAG). Photo by Jeremy Long.

The Congresbury Residents' Action Group (CRAG). Photo by Jeremy Long.

Archant

CAMPAIGNERS who protested against a developer’s appeal to build 80 homes in a North Somerset village have said they are ‘delighted’ after the appeal was rejected by a planning inspector.

"We are absolutely delighted that our campaign was successful. It’s a victory for the people of Congresbury, the parish council and North Somerset Council."

John Mills, CRAG spokesman.

The Congresbury Residents’ Action Group (CRAG) had been campaigning for more than 18 months against Barratt Homes’ plan to build the homes off Brinsea Road, outside Congresbury’s settlement boundary.

The development was refused outline planning permission by North Somerset Council, but the developer appealed against the decision and planning inspector Richard Schofield led an inquiry into the application in October.

However, Mr Schofield said the scheme would damage the area’s ‘pastoral character and appearance’ and rejected the appeal.

CRAG’s spokesman John Mills said: “We are absolutely delighted that our campaign was successful. It’s a victory for the people of Congresbury, the parish council and North Somerset Council.

“It remains to be seen how this will affect other planning decisions, but we know there were a lot of village groups watching the outcome. They should draw strength from the fact we took on the giant house builder and won.”

In his appeal decision, Mr Schofield said the site would not be in keeping with its surrounding area and would not form a ‘natural’ extension of Congresbury’s settlements.

He said: “The site does not have any appreciable sense of being surrounded by development. Rather, it retains a pastoral character and appearance.

“It would not be a natural extension of the village into a site surrounded by development, but the overspill of a substantial block of built development into the open countryside.”

The council’s executive member for housing, Elfan Ap Rees, also said he was pleased with the inspector’s decision.

He said: “I am delighted with the decision as it demonstrates that despite the Government’s drive for more housing and our current lack of a five-year land bank, residential development does not have to be at any cost and in unsuitable locations.”

North Somerset and Congresbury Parish Council provided solicitors at October’s inquiry.

Parish council chairman Di Hassan was also happy the effort had paid off.

She said: “Dismissal of this appeal was the correct decision. It would not have been accessible by means other than by private car and any development would have irreparably harmed the character and appearance of our village.

“We welcome the conclusion of the planning inspector that Congresbury is a thriving community and thank all our residents who participated in successfully defending this site’.

A Barratt Homes spokesman said the firm will now consider its options.

She said: “We are understandably disappointed our appeal was turned down.

“The development would bring much-needed sustainable housing to North Somerset and supported jobs during its construction.”

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