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Barrowby Parish Council chairman pens letter over plans for new Co-op store in village near Grantham

Phil Cupit, chairman of Barrowby Parish Council wrote a letter this week regarding plans for a new Co-op store as part of a housing development in the village.

The letter reads:

So once again the district council’s planning committee expresses its sorrow at letting down the residents of Barrowby over the planning issues on Low Road.

Grantham Journal letters (2225588)
Grantham Journal letters (2225588)

The Inspectors’ Examination of the Local Plan resulted in a report stipulating that there should be a masterplan for the development of the three adjacent sites.

The planning committee, having tried to reject the application on the first plot for 49 houses due the lack of a masterplan, and failed, then supported the parish council’s argument that the reserved matters application for 49 houses and a supermarket should also be rejected as the proposals were substantially different from the original application. This refusal also failed as it was contrary to the planning officer’s recommendations.

The original application was for 49 houses of mixed tenure. Barrowby Parish Council has always accepted that Barrowby has to take its’ fair share of new development and that “affordable housing” was necessary to meet the national demand for new houses.

The Parish Council was prepared to accept between 30% and 35% affordable houses despite SKDC planners only requiring 20% of houses be affordable in Grantham. Is this policy fair?

However, the first developer, Lindum Homes, proposed under “reserved matters” to increase the affordable element of the development to 100% (yes, all 49) and also include a supermarket.

This resulted in the individual housing plots being reduced in size to accommodate the extra space for a supermarket. The parish council felt this to be a retrogressive step.

The parish council has never sought to prevent the building of a supermarket to “meet local shoppers’ needs” as expressed by Mr Wilkinson of Lincoln Co-op, but we have objected to the store being built on Low Road.

We see this proposal as being a repeat of the planning error made on Winchester Road leading to the problems caused by the shoppers using the Tesco store and parking on the road instead of in the car park.

The parish council has fought long and hard to see a masterplan in place that would facilitate joined up thinking where the 207 houses and a supermarket being built as one development, although there would be three developers.

Joined up thinking might have led to a more appropriate site for the store that positioned it away from the main route through the village.

Whilst Mr Wilkinson has stated to the SKDC planning committee that “it is designed to meet local shoppers’ needs” and “currently they are having to get in their cars, drive into Grantham, to buy bread and milk,” this is not true. Any resident of Barrowby can purchase bread and milk from either the post office or the local butcher.

Furthermore, if the store is meant to meet local need why is Mr Wilkinson so insistent on having a roadside store on a through route?

The store’s proposed location will encourage residents to use their cars, whereas if it was to be sited within the development and away from existing houses, its location would have been more likely to prompt users from the centre of the village to walk to the shop, thus being more healthy and more environmentally friendly.

Having spent many hours at enquiries, planning meetings and preparing written submissions, representatives of the parish council and the neighbourhood planning group now have to ask themselves, who manages development in SKDC? The councillors? The officers? Or the developers? It’s all very well the SKDC planning committee apologising to Barrowby, but it is the 1,592 residents and future generations who are left with the results of the mistakes made.

In 2011 the government passed a Localism Act which was to provide for the greater participation of local communities in issues that affected them – planning being one.

SKDC does not appear to want to take this legislation on board. When so many local voices speak out against a proposal, the Planners appear to listen to only the handful that support the proposal.

Clearly, the planning committee is led by the officers as what is said by them goes. The committee cannot act against the advice of the officers without there being consequences, one of which is a legal appeal by the developers, who due to their massive legal departments and bottomless purses, can appeal against the decision of SKDC, who have limited (and declining) resources and so cannot afford to fight an appeal.

So we are forced to conclude that it is the developers who dictate planning policy in South Kesteven.

The Inspector of the Local Plan dictated there should be “an agreed masterplan”. The planning authority was unable to enforce this. The planning committee supported the parish council’s arguments over the issue of “reserved matters” but the officers recommended acceptance.

The end result was that the planning committee’s decision was overturned and the developers, as always, got their way. Despite conversations and objections from residents regarding the position of the supermarket, the officers recommended to allow it to be built in this first phase of development on the roadside of Low Road.

Let other SKDC villages beware! Do not rely on the Localism Act provision as it does not appear to be recognised in South Kesteven.

The voice of local democracy is set to be silenced even further with the Government’s proposals to give developers even more power in planning determinations.

Do not wait until your village is being developed before you make your wishes known. If you have not got a Neighbourhood Plan in place - start one now!

Make sure your SKDC elected members and MP are aware of your community’s hopes and aspirations and that they, in turn, are prepared to voice them to the planning officers, the planning committee and the Prime Minister.

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