Response to BDC's Local Plan Call for Sites





  1. The Council is grateful for this consultation. It considered the issues at its meeting on 9th January 2016 and then held a public meeting on 23rd January 2016 as well as inviting written representations from within the village. This response has taken all of those responses into account.


  1. One member of the Council is the landowner of the larger part of Ashe 104 and so declared an interest. He has taken no part in our consideration or decision so far as that site is concerned. However, he has taken part in our decision in respect of the other sites and the position generally. Accordingly we deal first with site 104 and then deal with the position generally and the other three sites in particular.


Ashe 104 land west of Street Farm, Ashen

  1. Part of this site has been subject to an application for two dwellings, which on 22nd December 2015 the planning committee resolved should be permitted, delegating the decision to the Development Manager subject to the entering of a section 106 agreement. Since then Heritage England has objected to the application.


  1. While the Council objected to that application, it seemed to the Council that the future of the part of the site subject to planning application would be in effect be determined by the outcome of the application. However, the Council is very concerned by the proposed extension of the village envelope not only to include the immediate area of the two proposed dwellings but to encompass a much larger area including the rear of the listed Bishops Hall and the remaining garden of the grade 2* listed farmhouse.


  1. The Council would object to the balance of the site being included in the village envelope, having regard to its relationship to the Street and the listed buildings and for the other reasons in its objection. In the Council’s view, if permission is granted for the two new dwellings, the approach should be adopted as in other sectors of the village of drawing the boundary so that it is closely related to the built fabric in order to protect the openness and contribution of the larger gardens to the character of the village and the setting of the listed buildings.


The position generally

  1. Plainly Ashen is a small village and in planning terms lacks the normal requirements for sustainability, including employment, retail facilities, a school or a good level of public transport. It would therefore not be an obvious candidate for growth to meet the general needs in the District.


  1. However, it is an attractive village with good amenities in the general area and a significant number of younger families. Over the plan period there is likely to be a local need in the village for those with particular ties to the village and its community to be housed. The Council believes that there is a case for identifying a site where affordable housing to meet the needs of the village could be provided. Whether that is by adjusting the village envelope or by simply identifying a site with a specific notation as potentially suitable for release to meet those needs, it is essential in our view that any residential development should be specifically committed to meeting those local needs, at least so far as the affordable element is concerned.


  1. There is also concern that before or as part of any additional development there is specific improvement made to the infrastructure serving the village. That would include the sewage treatment plant and parts of the surface water drainage system.


Specific Response on Sites Ashe 102, 103 and 500

  1. Against that background our response on the specific sites is as follows.


  1. The Council considers that site Ashe 500 is unsuitable, whether considered on its own or in conjunction with the adjoining land in this part of the immediate village surrounds. It is exposed to view from within the village and from outside, particularly approaching from the north and east. Its development would seriously detract from the character and setting of the village and its amenity. There is no identified means of access to this backland site.


  1. The Council considers that Ashe 103 is at an important gateway to the village and is exposed to view. Its development, whether in part or as a whole, would detract from the character and amenity of the village and its setting. It is therefore unsuitable for release to meet any identified needs.


  1. Overall the Council has concluded that the preferred site to provide for the local needs of the village over the plan period would be site Ashe 102. While it would undoubtedly change this part of the entrance to the village and involve the loss of greenfield land, the site is better enclosed and would broadly fit with the overall village pattern so that the effect on the character and setting of the village would be significantly less than in the case of the other sites. As set out above, if the village envelope is to be changed to include site Ashe 102, its development should be expressly contingent on the identification of local need specific to the village and effective provision made restricting any affordable housing element to meet that need.