Plan for new homes on proposed allotment site rejected by councillors

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Plans to build five new detached homes on land previously earmarked for allotments have been rejected by councillors.

Larkfleet Homes had been seeking permission to build the properties on the western edge of its Hawksmead development in Oakham which will eventually feature up to 1,000 homes.

The application had been recommended for approval by planners, but at a meeting of Rutland County Council’s Development Control and Licensing Committee on Tuesday night, councillors voted to refuse permission.

Larkfleet had claimed loss of potential allotments was justified on the basis that the overall Hawksmead development had a “significant over provision of amenity open space”.

But the application prompted letters of objection from 37 local residents.

There was also opposition from Oakham Home Gardens and Allotment Society, which fears allotment waiting lists would grow in future.

The society has recently been given notice to leave one of its five sites, in Brooke Road, resulting in the loss of 39 plots.

Barleythorpe Neighbourhood Forum was also opposed – claiming purchasers on Leighfield Park bought their homes on the understanding the land would be used for allotments.

Larkfleet Homes’ planning director Mark Mann told the meeting there was already ample provision of open space nearby, adding: “There’s no policy justification to retain this land for allotments.

“Take up on our other allotments has been low.

“There is no actual loss of allotments here, because there are none currently on the site.”

The proposed allotment site has, in recent years, been used a storage site by the developer. It backs on to the rear gardens of existing homes in Main Road, Barleythorpe.

Mr Mann said if permission for the five new properties was granted, they would be at least 70 metres away from the Main Road properties due to their large gardens.

Plans to put nine new homes on the proposed allotment land had been rejected by councillors back in 2014.

Committee member Coun Marc Oxley said he was against the previous application and his view had not changed now Larkfleet Homes had submitted a new application for five homes.

He said: “Three years ago when we debated this, we said it should be kept as green open space.

“We were told there would be a green buffer all the way around the site. If we approve this application, where does it end?”

Committee chairman Coun Edward Baines also spoke against the application, saying the loss of open space went against the previously approved masterplan for the Hawksmead development.

He said: “However unpalatable it may be to residents, I’m going to disregard the allotments argument.

“This application is against the spirit of the masterplan we approved and I’m convicted that, on planning grounds, we cannot support it.”

A motion to refuse permission for the development was proposed by Coun Oxley.

Nine councillors voted in favour of the motion, with one voting against.