Public inquiry could be held as appeal over refusal of Drury housing plans is lodged
A public inquiry could be held following the refusal of two applications by the same company to build dozens of houses in Flintshire.
Muller Homes has tried to gain permission to develop a plot of land in Drury, near Buckley, on multiple occasions with proposals for both 66 and 56 houses previously turned down.
On the latest occasion in February, politicians and neighbours strongly criticised the company as one senior councillor accused them of wasting time and money.
Their latest bid was rejected after a total of 83 letters of objection were received by the local authority against the scheme for 56 homes.
It followed concerns about plans to demolish a 150-year-old house in order to accommodate the new properties, as well as the impact on nearby schools and medical facilities.
However, Muller has now asked for an inquiry to be held after submitting an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.
The firm said it was required in part due to the “significant” amount of local interest.
In a statement, planning consultants acting on their behalf said: “The appellant does not dispute that the density of development is greater than that of adjoining development, but the increase is modest.
“We do not agree that the appeal scheme would result in an unacceptable development as a result, nor that any unacceptable harm will arise as a result of the difference in density between existing and proposed.
“The appeal site lies largely within the development boundary of Drury, which is a settlement where new residential development is to be directed.
“There are a number of services and facilities present within walking and cycling distance and the site is well located to bus and train services.
“No other technical or environmental constraints have been identified that would prevent the development of the site.”
The main reasons put forward for refusal by the council included the impact on an area of green barrier land, the density of the development and loss of agricultural land.
The company has argued that there would be no buildings on the area in the green barrier and said the density could be accommodated.
But local resident Lenny Keig told councillors that the village’s infrastructure would not be able to cope with more homes.
Speaking at February’s meeting, he said: “You were all very scathing in your remarks about the proposal and nothing has changed.
“The traffic is still out of control, the school’s still oversubscribed, you still struggle to get a doctor’s or dentist’s appointment and we still don’t have a shop, post office or ATM.
“That’s why we, the residents of Drury, have every confidence in your judgement to come to the same conclusion as you have on the first three occasions.
“The residents of Drury are outraged it’s even being considered.”
The scheme was unanimously thrown out for the fourth time after Cllr Derek Butler questioned the cost of the company’s repeated attempts.
He said: “We’re told we’ve got to treat every application on its own merit, but there comes a point when the democratic process is becoming abused.
“If the same application keeps turning up, it’s wasting officers’ time and it’s costing ratepayers money.”
The appeal will be decided at a later date by an inspector appointed by the Welsh Government.
It is likely that any inquiry would only be held once the coronavirus pandemic is over as the Planning Inspectorate has postponed all casework events due to social distancing requirements.
Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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