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Stalled plans to demolish an old farmhouse and horse riding paddock on Essex greenbelt land for a housing development have gone to appeal.
Developers Inland Homes have appealed to the planning inspectorate on the grounds of non-determination over an application to demolish Maitland Lodge in Southend Road, Great Burstead, and build 47 new homes.
Despite being submitted in November 2021, Basildon Council did not issue a decision over the application.
The planning committee met on June 8 to decide how it would have voted, agreeing it would have refused permission for the plans because they represented inappropriate development in the green belt.
However, the developers argue the scheme’s 45 per cent provision of affordable houses constitutes the very special circumstances needed for it to be approved.
Appearing at the meeting, Patrick Thomas, senior planning manager at Inland Homes, said 2,296 Basildon households are on the affordable register, and claimed just 9 affordable homes had been completed in Burstead since 2015.
He told the committee: “There is a dire and desperate need for affordable housing in Basildon, but particularly in Burstead.
“This scheme will deliver 21 affordable homes, in excess of policy. We are firmly of the view this is a very special circumstance.”
Maitland Lodge itself is a two-storey house, according to a council report, and the site also contains a number of single storey buildings together with fields used for grazing and training of horses.
Part of the site is previously developed land despite its greenbelt setting, the report continues.
Councillor Craig Rimmer praised the application for its high proportion of affordable homes and four-bedroom houses, but said he could not vote in favour of approval.
He said: “None of this is enough. It’s green belt.
“The National Planning Policy Framework is quite clear on this, that the green belt trumps everything else.
“And talk of the land supply, we’ve had these arguments made before, we’ve had these arguments thrown out before at appeal.”
An identical application was refused by the council in 2018, also over inappropriate development in the greenbelt.
However, a new application was submitted last year, in parallel with the now-withdrawn emerging local plan.
Officers at the meeting said this had also contributed to the delay over a decision, with a view to decide on the application in line with the adoption of the local plan.
The emerging plan, which was withdrawn by the council in March this year, had an allocation for 27 self-build houses on the site.