The above photograph reminds us everyday of the legacy of Pennyfeathers as we see these derelict houses on both sides of the road at the Marlborough Road/Westridge Junction everyday. It is nearly 8 years since the out-line planning permission was granted in 2015 for this 900 plus housing development.
On Wednesday, the 12th April, the Reserved Matters (final details of lay-out, house design etc) was presented to the planning committee and a final decision was made. The application was refused by 6 votes to 1. The refusal was primarily based on the revised submission of the original plan in 2015 that moved the community centre and school from being near to the Oakfield and Elmfield communities to a site at the bottom of Smallbrook Lane. It was argued by committee members that this went against integration of new and existing communities. There had been concerns raised by the Police about the design that it could create pockets of potential anti-social behaviour. 50% of the household units were flats and only a minority would have access to private greenspace which went against all the modern planning and public health thinking about mental-well-being. A key issue was the the proposed centralised gas-fired heated water heating system and how this was not in line with current and future legislation regarding climate change.
See the press links for more insight.
What happens now!
I am trying to get clear clarification on this, but I am under the belief that if a RMA is refused by the LPA (Local Planning Authority) there are usually two options:
- The applicant can submit a revised RMA to LPA which in the case I presume would come back to committee.
- The applicant can appeal the decision within 6 months.
Pennyfeathers is complex in that timeframes and out-line planning permission has been close to being out of time on a number of occasions over the past 8 years, so option 1 is unlikely but I am getting this clarified.
The applicants seem from attached press links, to take the view their only option is to appeal and this will go to the planning inspectorate. They have 6 months to do this. As IWC LPA has refused the RMA, the Council will have to legally defend their decision at the appeal. This could take a long time.
My principal concern now is the two derelict houses and pursuance of how these can be compulsory purchased and repaired/rebuilt and brought back into housing use.
I will post any further updates. As I said at the Planning Committee, we could have had an inspirational development scheme but instead what was presented 8 years on was not fit for purpose and this was the view of the majority of committee including myself. One of the committee members highlighted the Newport Pan estate and the problems they had and that we should learn from lessons of that experience which were very wise words. In many ways the Pennyfeathers scheme was just repeating the design errors of Pan. We do need jobs and we need housing for local needs but we do not need poor developments which will create serious problems for residents in the future on so many levels. As I said, as elected councillors we had a duty of service to our communities not to agree to a design/plan that would be a disservice to future and existing generations in so many ways.