Homes plan for Irchester thrown out by councillors

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Campaigners fought a good fight and were victorious as an application for 149 new homes in Irchester was rejected by councillors.

Members of Wellingborough Council’s planning committee listened to the views of the village and refused the application, which had attracted more than 850 letters of objection.

Councillors agreed that it went against the village’s work to produce a neighbourhood plan, would harm the character of the village, increase traffic and congestion, and that local schools and sewage services wouldn’t be able to cope.

The applicant, Barwood Strategic Land, had previously sought planning permission for 124 homes on part of the same site in August 2012, but the application was refused by the committee.

The applicants lodged an appeal against the decision, which was dismissed by the planning inspector in June last year following a public inquiry.

Irchester villagers packed into the crowded council chamber for the meeting to show their strength of feeling against the new application by Barwood.

Seventeen people, mainly from the Save Irchester Village group, spoke out against the application.

Among the speakers was Cllr Jon-Paul Carr, who said: “I believe the community should have a say in what they want in their community and how it should be shaped in the 21st century.”

He added: “I ask this committee to refuse this application and back what the majority of people in Irchester are saying.”

Cllr Paul Bell said: “If we are going to have localism then we have to listen to the people.”

Cllr Martin Griffiths said: “We could leave ourselves open to costs but I still believe we are making the right decision.”

Ward councillor for Irchester Tim Maguire spoke passionately about opposing the plans and backing the village.

He said: “This development is too big, it’s definitely got worse than the last one and the consultation was a joke.”

Cllr Malcolm Waters suggested the decision could be deferred until after the court action regarding the previous application.

But this was not supported by his fellow committee members.

The council’s planning officers had recommended outline planning permission was given subject to completion of a suitable Section 106 agreement ahead of the meeting.

But Cllr Lora Lawman said during discussion of the plans: “I fully appreciate that our [planning] officers are going by the book but at the end of the day there’s localism and that’s for us to listen to those who elected us and who we said we would represent to make their views known.

“Their view is that this development should not be taking place.

“We should listen to these people who are actually affected.”

Cllr Peter Morrall said: “Irchester has its plan of how many houses it needs, it knows where it wants to build them and it’s not on this site.”

Proposing that the application be refused, councillors said that it didn’t meet the requirements of the people of Irchester and that if localism was wanted then people must be listened to.

Councillors also expressed concerns about highways and the effect on the countryside, and disputed that the council was unable to demonstrate enough housing land in the borough.

The application was refused by nine votes to one.