Brentwood Council will “almost certainly” lose a legal battle at appeal after using “weak” arguments for refusing plans for homes with views of London.
Plans for 125 homes on land adjacent to Mascalls Gardens had been recommended for approval ahead of the decision on November 21.
The planning application for the development of the site – following a decision to defer the issue from a July planning committee to allow further engagement with neighbours – resulted in changes welcomed by residents to the scheme around layout, design and landscaping along the eastern boundary and clustering of affordable housing.
However, issues around the access point for the development on Nags Head Lane were used as a reason to refuse the application – even though Essex Highways had raised no concerns about this aspect.
Planning officer Fiona Dunning told the planning committee “If it was refused on highways safety grounds – this highways authority has stated that there are no highways safety issues. The visibility splays have been put in place, there has been a safety audit undertaken and that has passed and so it is a very weak reason for refusal in my opinion.”
Vice chairman of planning, Councillor Martin Cuthbert, said: “I think this application will be approved no matter what we do. I think the last application would have been approved and I think this application is compliant and if it goes to an inspector it will almost certainly be overturned if refused and most likely because of the improvements, with costs.”
However, Mark Baker, from the Mascalls Gardens Residents Association said residents face upheaval from what they say will be a loss of privacy.
He said: “While we are concerned about loss of privacy, we are also concerned about the impact in the wider community.
“The number of cars on the estate will have access from Nags Head Lane which is opposite the proposed Brentwood Gateway, with industrial units, garages and dwellings.
“This will contribute enormously to the vehicles on Nags Head Lane.”
Councillor David Kendall said there were a number of issues to be resolved.
He said: “The development is still going to have a serious visual impact on many of the residents living in Mascalls Gardens. It will overlook and dwarf the bungalows and totally obliterate the wonderful views they currently enjoy. In my view the developer is still trying to cram too many properties on the site and there is inadequate open space.”
Planning member Keith Barber said the entry point to the estate from Nags Head Lane was in the wrong place and should be in the middle and not near the blind bend.
Cllr Barber referred to a policy in the local plan which states that “developments must not have an unacceptable impact on the transport network in terms of highway safety, capacity and congestion”.
He said: “I believe we are entitled to take a different view to the highways authority and on this occasion I respectfully do.”