Out of keeping

I am writing to you concerning a proposed housing development for an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the small village of Tipton St John.

The proposed development would be outside the built-up area boundary of the village on a beautiful hill which can be seen from many parts of the village.

Despite the fact that most of the villagers are against this development at Barton Orchard (there were 58 letters to the Planning Department opposing the development and only one in favour) the planners are recommending approval.

The proposal is for 15 houses of an extremely contemporary design which even the council admits is “unusual” for an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

In fact the plans include the provision for parking on the roofs of some of the properties! The proposal is for 10 of the houses to be “affordable housing” but the Planning Department has not looked into the affordability of the proposal and one of the big fears is that the developers will come back to request planning permission for many more houses in this beautiful area.

The proposal by Devonshire Homes to build houses in another part of Tipton St John was turned down for a number of reasons fairly recently, including reasons which also apply to the proposal at Barton Orchard – eg it is outside the built-up area boundary of the village and the development is not sustainable (ie residents would have to travel by car to work etc).

The Devonshire Homes application was not even for a location in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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In addition, an identical sized application (also for 10 affordable houses and five open market value houses) at Westhayes in West Hill was turned down last year, partly because it was outside the built-up area boundary. Again, that proposed development was not in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Approval of the development at Barton Orchard would be inconsistent with both of the above planning decisions so it does not make sense that the planners are recommending approval, particularly as the planned development at Barton Orchard is for such contemporary style houses which would have a harmful impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We checked with the Planning Department earlier this year and they confirmed that they are required to make sure that any proposed building in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty would not have a harmful impact on the AONB.

In addition there is a dangerous junction at the bottom of Barton Orchard, with 2 roads converging on to the main road, which would be made busier.

School children walk along the main road to school and have to cross at this junction.

This is one of the reasons that a development in this location has been turned down in the past.

Robert and Penny Guest

Residents of Tipton St John

? Editor’s Note: The development management committee approved the application on Tuesday, June 12, but the letter was sent in before the meeting.

The plans to build 15 new homes were approved by the narrowest of margins when, with six councillors for and six against the plan, development management chairman Mark Williamson used his casting vote to grant approval