A CONTROVERSIAL planning application has been approved by community leaders – despite heavy objection to the proposals. The plans for “outline permission with details of access for residential development of up to 55 dwellings including creation of a new access, car parking and ancillary landscaping” for land adjacent to Daisy Bank Farm in Uttoxeter Road, Upper Tean were approved by the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's planning committee at their meeting on Thursday, January 24.
It had previously been recommended for approval by an SMDC planning officer, despite almost 100 letters of objections being submitted to the authority which outlined a number of concerns including: pollution, traffic congestion, high flood risk at the site, burden on existing facilities, impact on wildlife, and that the development would “merge” the two villages of Upper Tean and Lower Tean.
The objections were submitted by members of the public as well as by Checkley Parish Council and the Upper Tean Residents Group.
Thursday’s meeting heard five objectors outlining their concerns about the proposals, while a planning agent made their case for approval of the application.
Members of the planning committee then debated the application at some length.
Cllr Colin Pearce said: “The amount of objections this application has had carries so much weight for me personally.
“There is so much work going on in this council with things like local plans and there is a local neighbourhood plan which has nothing pointing to this site. That should carry a lot of weight and should be a very valid reason for refusal.”
Mr Pearce also expressed his concerns that there “isn’t enough space” at local schools, and the area’s doctors are “over-subscribed”.
He added: “It’s just beyond the pale. I think we have just got to stop. I would like to propose refusal.”
Cllr Peter Jackson said: “I give great weight to the community strength of feeling but we need to look at planning policy. I cannot see any sufficient reason to refuse this application.”
Cllr Mike Gledhill praised the speakers for their input describing that they had delivered their concerns “’passionately and eloquently” but added that in his four years of being on the planning committee, he has noted a battle between “local view and national policy”. He said: “Mainly national policy wins. And if it gets to appeal, local view does not get taken into account.
“With this application, my heart says one thing but my head perhaps says another.”
Cllr Jackson added: “We would like to help the local people to find reasons to turn this down but there is nothing I can see that won’t come back at an appeal.
“I am going to recommend approval in line with the officer recommendation.
“I think this is the sensible thing to do on this occasion.”
Cllr Ivor Lucas aired his concerns about there “always going to be a highways problem” in the area. He said: “When the A50 is shut, that road is unbelievable and not passable at all.”
Chairman of the planning committee Cllr Stephen Ellis concluded the debate. He said: “It has been a good debate and the speakers spoke well.
“We do share the views and sentiments that you have got.”
He reminded committee members that they had previously turned down a housing development which had then been overturned at appeal which subsequently led to the council being charged costs.
He added to the public gallery where objectors were watching the meeting: “The Neighbourhood Plan has not yet been adopted and so does not carry any significant weight.
“Members do share the concerns you have but if it goes to appeal we have got nothing to defend it on.
“I have tried to see what we can hang our hat on but there isn’t anything. There is only one option.”
The application was then put to a vote with nine members voting for Cllr Jackson’s motion to approve, and three voting against, resulting in the application gaining approval.
Since Thursday’s planning committee meeting Checkley Parish Council and Upper Tean Residents Group have announced that they will be: “taking legal advice and considering what if anything can now be done to protect the future of the two villages and the Neighbourhood Plan.”
See the ‘Letters to the Editor’ page for their full response.
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