Bid to build homes on land earmarked for employment in Earls Barton approved
Land was marketed for four years with no takers
An application opposed by Earls Barton Parish Council to build 26 houses on land originally proposed for employment use in the village has been approved.
North Northamptonshire Council’s Area Planning Committee considered the application for land off Main Road in the village.
The application was for residential development of 26 units including 10 affordable dwellings on land previously earmarked for employment use.
But despite a four-year marketing campaign, it was not possible to find an employment use and the committee was recommended to grant the application subject to the completion of a Section 106 legal agreement by January 14, 2022, and also a number of conditions.
The parish council raised objections that the application does not comply with policy EB.G1 of the Earls Barton Neighbourhood Plan and the village has already met the target identified by the housing needs survey.
Policy EB. G1 states: '0.64 ha reserved employment site for B1 business uses and potential location for a small business centre (if after the mid-point of the plan there is insufficient demand, demonstrated by the developer through marketing evidence, consideration should then be given to the provision of live/work units or any alternative appropriate use if a need can be established)'.
The housing requirement for Earls Barton for 2011 to 2031 is 250 dwellings. As at March 31, 2021, 433 dwellings had been completed in the village.
A report to the council states the policy 'allows a reconsideration of the land set aside for employment use at the midway point of the plan period which in this case would be 2021.'
The site was allocated for employment uses within the planning permission
dated October 2, 2013.
The employment land has been marketed since January/February 2017 over a four-year period, which includes a period before the Covid 19 pandemic.
The report goes on to state: 'The marketing agent has concluded that given that our marketing campaign has proven to be highly unsuccessful in generating either suitable occupier or developer demand, there is no commercial market demand for this site, and it is very clear that it does not represent a sustainable or viable employment development opportunity going forward.
'The principal reasons are, its incompatibility with the adjacent, and very close residential accommodation, together with a significantly inflexible planning permission that does not reflect the requirements of market demand.
'Therefore, the conclusion must be made, that the site is not suitable for employment use, and it is not considered that any further marketing will ultimately produce an occupier, or indeed a developer, willing to proceed.'
There is a proposed mix of houses with one, two, three, four and five bedrooms consisting of two storeys, detached, semi-detached, terraced and flatted types.
The application site was originally proposed for employment use as part of a development scheme of 280 houses approved in 2014.
It is situated in the south eastern corner of the application site to the east of the access road Packwood Crescent and to the south of the infiltration basin.
The first phase of the development to the north has been constructed and all of the houses in phase one have been occupied.
The second phase of the development to the south is under construction and a number of houses in this phase have been occupied.