Brentwood Council could face £500,000 in legal costs after refusing major housing plans

Brentwood Council has been warned that by refusing a planning application to build almost 350 homes in Shenfield and partly close a road to motor vehicles could cost it as much as £500,000 if appealed.

Council officers warned that a decision against the recommendation of the plans could lead to an appeal with costs of between £300,000 and £500,0000 after arguing the plans were policy compliant and there were no statutory consultees or technical advisors objecting to the application.

The application for 344 homes and a new primary school from Croudace Homes off Chelmsford Road and Alexander Lane sits in the largest parcel of land known as Officer Meadow.

Three other developers – Countryside Properties, Redrow Homes and Stonebond Properties – are all developing different and separate plots in the same area – which will eventually see a total of 825 homes.

Inherent to the plans is the closure of Alexander Lane to traffic halfway along where it will be downgraded to a pedestrian and cycle route for access by children to Shenfield High School, its sports pitches and the public recreation ground.

Vehicles using Alexander Lane will be brought into the Croudace site along a new road, with footpaths and cycleways to link to Chelmsford Road via a new roundabout.

A circuitous motor vehicle route is planned through the Croudace site to provide a connection between Alexander Lane and Chelmsford Road.

But the closure of Alexander Lane has been criticised for the impact it may have on neighbouring roads – especially Oliver Road which also leads from Chelmsford Road to Shenfield.

Councillor Barry Aspinell said: “Can you imagine the impact on Oliver Road if Alexander lane is closed – Oliver Road being the access to Shenfield School. It will be mayhem down there if that is allowed to happen.”

However, traffic modelling has said there will be just one extra vehicle per minute due to the changes and has resulted in no objection from highways experts.

The decision to refuse had been warned against by planning officer Kathryn Williams in a meeting of the planning committee on July 9.

She said: “Where it stands this is a housing allocation site, it’s a housing scheme that provides 344 units and it provides a two-form entry primary school.

“It’s in line with the development framework, it’s policy compliant, there are no statutory consultees or technical advisors that are objecting to the application.
“As it stands the merits of the application and everything on balance have led to the recommendation for approval.

“If you were to defer this or then even be minded to refuse the application the likelihood of it being upheld at appeal is very minimal you’re talking less than 20 per cent in all honesty and the application for costs is probably in the region between £300,000 and £500,000 and that’s just a guesstimate.”

Chairman of the planning committee, Councillor Phil Mynott said: “As far as I’m concerned the design of the three-story apartment buildings on the junction with Chelmsford Road and three-story apartment buildings on the junction with Alexander Lane are absolutely not policy compliant.

“In fact they’re probably they’re about as non-policy compliant as they could possibly be.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter

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