A planning battle lasting seven years appears to have come to an end in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, with the Planning Inspectorate overturning decisions by South Kesteven District Council.
It concerns the Daraton development of six houses on Newton Way, which were all originally granted permission in 2008.
After objections to the height of the buildings, permission was withdrawn by SKDC for three of the properties already built, including one into which a family had moved in.
Subsequently, three appeals were made against SKDC’s decisions to the Planning Inspectorate, by developer Graham Henton, as well as an application for the council to pay costs.
Appointed by the Secretary of State Eric Pickles to decide on such appeals, inspector John Chase has ruled that two of the properties should, in fact, be allowed.
In his decision notice, Mr Chase acknowledged: “The completed structures are in the order of 1m higher than the permitted scheme”. Yet he concluded: “The resulting increase in overbearing or loss of privacy is not so great as to result in unacceptable harm to the living conditions of adjoining residents.”
Nearby resident Lucienne Bennett, who was among several neighbours to object to the heights of the houses, said: “We were initially surprised at plot 3 and 4 being allowed subject to conditions, which we have yet to see being enforced, but on re-reading the judgement it makes sense.
“The inspector basically puts the inconsistencies and lack of process at SKDC planning as mitigation for the developer thinking he was going to be all right. By SKDC allowing the building to continue, even when asked to halt pending decisions, it was deemed to be too heavy handed to now require demolition, exactly the outcome which we predicted.”
She added: “SKDC has made a thorough, costly mess!”
The issue over the buildings’ heights arose from a discrepency over the actual ground levels on the site.
Referring to when the applications were refused, Mr Chase stated: “It is probable that council officers over-estimated the degree of variation in ground levels from the permitted scheme.”
This was the basis for the costs application against SKDC, but despite overturning their decision, Mr Chase ruled: “Whilst there were shortcomings in the council’s approach, these did not amount to the unreasonable behaviour for which an award of costs is warranted.”
Meanwhile SKDC’s decision to withdraw approval for one of the Daraton houses has been upheld by the Planning Inspectorate, due to it harming the historical significance of the Grade II* listed Newton’s Chapel, parts of which date back to the 12th century.
When asked by the Journal, SKDC could not give details of enforcement action, or a date by which this Daraton property must come down by.
At the moment the building, described by Mr Chase as having a ‘dominating effect’ on Newton’s Chapel, remains standing.