Council lose appeal over Great Bowden homes

Villagers packed out a meeting last December
Villagers packed out a meeting last December

A planning inspector has over-ruled Harborough District Council to allow a 70-home estate in a south Leicestershire village.

The controversial development on Berry Close, Great Bowden had been roundly condemned by villagers and turned down by district council planners in December 2015.

But developers Redrow Homes appealed against the District Council’s decision. A planning appeal was held at the end of June this year.

And today (Tues), planning inspector Richard Allen ruled that the 70 homes could be built after all, saying that any harm caused by the new estate was outweighed by the lack of a five-year housing supply across the Harborough district.

Great Bowden Parish Council chairman Paul Claxton said: “I just learnt of the decision a couple of minutes ago. I’m absolutely stunned, and totally and utterly appalled.

“Four previous Inspectors have said “no” to houses on this site, but it seems that the lack of a five-year housing supply in the District trumped everything. That’s bad news for everyone in the District.”

Local people argued that not only was the site unsuitable for housing, but it also closed the narrow gap between Great Bowden and neighbouring Market Harborough which made Great Bowden a village.

Local district councillor Phil Knowles said: “I’m really, really saddened by this decision, because we fought very hard over many years on this.

“The residents will share my sadness. It will have an adverse and considerable effect on Great Bowden.”

The planning inspector said the Berry close development “would undeniably erode elements of the functioning space between Great Bowden and Market Harborough” but decided the harm to the area was “moderate”.

He said that was outweighed by the estate’s “sustainable location”, the fact that it contained affordable housing and the fact that it would make a “significant and necessary contribution towards the District Council’s five-year housing land supply”.