Property Developer’s Second Planning Breach

It’s been confirmed the house-builder currently constructing 175 new houses on almost sixteen acres of Ruddington’s former Green Belt south of Musters Road has breached its planning conditions for the second time in just over a year. Residents nearby have reacted with dismay at being told a total of 38 ‘Wilbur Chase’ properties are now occupied – breaching even the revised 35 property limit set by Rushcliffe Borough Council (RBC).

Stipulations for Avant Homes (Midlands)‘s original planning approval for this estate included that off-site highway improvement works to the A60/Kirk Lane/Flawforth Lane junction and to the High Street/Kirk Lane/Charles Street junction must to be carried out before any of its new homes could be occupied.

After the property developer committed it’s first planning breach in September 2021, by beginning to move families in regardless, RBC changed the requirement for the village centre works into just a financial contribution from Avant instead. The authority also granted Avant a ‘Variation of Condition 9’ of its planning permission {ref 18/00300/OUT}, to allow it a change in time frame for the other necessary highway improvements to ease traffic congestion. It stipulated that “…no more than 35 dwellings shall be occupied until:-

  • “A financial contribution had been made to the Local Highway Authority in lieu of Improvements to the High Street/Kirk Lane/Charles Street junction.”
  • “The off-site highway improvement works to the A60/Kirk Lane/ Flawforth Lane junction have been completed in accordance with details which shall first be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.”

Whilst it’s understood the required financial contribution (Section 106 payment) of around £320,000 from Avant Homes has been safely received, still no agreement has been reached for the A60/Kirk Lane/ Flawforth Lane junction works to take place. When they do finally start, these are expected to take around six months to complete!

Major works still need to be carried out at this junction to satisfy Avant Homes’ planning conditions

After contacted RBC with villagers’ concerns about this latest breach, a Borough Council spokesperson told us: “We are in regular contact with Avant Homes and they are working with the County Council to secure a legal agreement for the outstanding highways issues. It is disappointing that they have not yet secured this agreement and commenced the highways works within the agreed timeframe and they have been repeatedly reminded of their obligations in this regard.”

Local resident Adam Wilkinson says this situation is beyond disappointing: “What I’m asking, is that the developer is held to account on conditions imposed at the point planning was granted, and that RBC Planning enforce them. If that is not possible, why bother with planning conditions in the first place? Perhaps developers should be allowed to do whatever they like, regardless of conditions, as I’m not sure that would be any different to what is actually happening!”

The Council says it is considering its next steps with regard to enforcement action and “has to consider national guidance that enforcement action should be proportionate and focuses on remedying the breach.” The RBC spokesperson adds: “As Avant are finalising the contract for the highways works, an enforcement notice in this instance is unlikely to speed up the works taking place. The Council is also mindful of the wider aspect of the new homeowners having bought these homes in good faith and the impact of enforcement action on them and the wider housing chain. We continue to liaise with Avant Homes to ensure they comply with the planning conditions they signed up to.”

However, Avant Homes seems to be blaming delays at Nottinghamshire County Council for creating the current situation. A spokesperson for the property developer told us: “An agreement for the required works has been drawn up and we are currently awaiting its approval by Nottinghamshire County Council’s highways department. Once we have received this, we will be in a position to progress the highway improvement works.”

Mr Wilkinson believes this is just not good enough: “Kirk Lane traffic is currently queuing end to end at peak times, especially when leaving the village in the morning. The junction improvements are required, and are required now; and I think it’s safe to assume that was the intention of the planning condition. I therefore suggest that no more houses can be occupied until the works are complete. If RBC continue to allow houses to be occupied, and the junction works are not completed until next summer, how many houses will be occupied by then? Likely all 175 of them, while village residents suffer daily gridlock.”

Margaret Burrell agrees: “Except for properties where contracts have already been exchanged, they should be forced to stop all works on the site until the conditions are complied with. I’m sure that’s what would happen if it was you or I failing to comply!”

Rosie Powrie suggests: “They should be fined for everyday they’re in breach. With the money going to the community that’s affected!”

Steve Luck says: “It’s a typical ‘cart before the horse’ scenario. The access improvements should have been put in place before house building commenced. The amount of construction traffic using unsuitable access has been a nightmare.”

Mr Wilkinson adds: “This situation is frustrating and bordering on RBC malfeasance. Something must be done to ensure developers are held to account. Therefore I’ve raised another formal complaint with RBC and I am now also going to raise this complaint with the Government Ombudsman.” will keep you posted with further news updates.

The entrance to Wilbur Chase along Skylark Drive {Photos by Adam Wilkinson}

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