Residents’ Concerns Over Second Planning Breach

Villagers living close to the ‘Wilbur Chase’ housing development in Ruddington say they’re very concerned that the property builder could soon be allowed to get away with another serious infringement of its planning conditions for the new estate.

Avant Homes (Midlands) is currently constructing 175 new houses on our former Green Belt, south of Musters Road, on what used to be 15.89 acres of farmland. Residents first complained to Rushcliffe Borough Council (RBC) in September last year when the developer began allowing households to move in to the first of its completed new properties in violation of the authority’s original planning conditions. These stipulations 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 the new homes could be occupied.

Only after this breach had already occurred did Avant secure a ‘Variation of Condition 9’ of its planning permission {ref 18/00300/OUT} from RBC, to allow it a change in time frame for the promised offsite highway improvements. This was 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.” (As previously reported, the originally planned village centre junction changes turned out to be too problematic.)
  • “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.”

Despite local objections, the ‘variation’ was allowed by RBC. Whilst it’s understood the required financial contribution (S106) from Avant Homes has been safely received, still no date has been fixed for the A60/Kirk Lane/ Flawforth Lane junction works to begin. When they do 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

Local residents’ spokesperson Adam Wilkinson asks: “When the 36th house is occupied, and the works are not complete, what will happen?  I’m not sure that reminding Avant of the occupancy restriction will change anything, and I’d expect RBC to take proactive steps to prevent the 36th house being occupied until works are complete.”

He adds: “It is inevitable that this situation will occur – if the works don’t start until the end of August, it could be February/March 2023 until they are complete. Avant’s ‘Wilbur Chase’ website is already showing over 50 houses are sold.”

When RUDDINGTON.info asked Avant Homes if it is likely another planning breach would be committed, a spokesperson for the house-builder responded: “Our application for the improvement works of the A60, Flawforth and Kirk Lane junction have been approved by the local authority, subject to us satisfying the conditions in the agreement with the highways department. We currently have an agreement regarding the works in draft and ready for signing between all parties involved, so it is therefore not appropriate for us to comment further at this time.”

A Rushcliffe Borough Council spokesperson told us: “Any potential enforcement action would depend on the scale or nature of the breach and an assessment of whether it would be in the public interest to pursue the matter. As the Council has not yet reached occupation of the 36th house, this assessment has not yet been made. There is currently no breach and therefore no enforcement action can be taken.”

Nevertheless, RBC is reassuring residents they will be as prepared as possible and work to avoid any such breaches: “As such we are in contact with both Avant and VIA EM to monitor the situation and gauge whether a breach of the planning conditions is likely to occur or what the impact of this might be. In addition the Council has already discussed and explored potential options if a breach occurs. These could include a ‘Breach of Condition Notice’, an ‘Enforcement Notice’ or a ‘Stop Notice’. As ever any resident or stakeholder can contact the Council on any planning matter by emailing planningandgrowth@rushcliffe.gov.uk.“

Whilst acknowledging “…it can be frustrating and disappointing when developers do not adhere to their planning permissions and conditions imposed…” RBC’s spokesperson adds “…the planning enforcement system is not to be used to punish developers – rather to try and solve breaches of planning control.”

Mr Wilkinson is unimpressed: “This is far beyond a ‘frustrating and disappointing’ situation, and I am not suggesting the developer is ‘punished’ for previous breaches” he says. “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!” he suggests.

Cllr Walker

The local residents are being backed by Ruddington’s two Borough Councillors Jen Walker and Mike Gaunt.

Cllr Walker says: “Mike and I continue to be the link between the Council and the residents affected by this development. We feel strongly that the developers have been given too much leeway since the start of the application and it shows a system that is in place that favour developers over voices in local communities. Staying on top of what is happening on the Asher Lane site has been the incredible hard work of a few tenacious residents and we would like to thank them for what they have already achieved for our village.”

She adds: “We continue to attend meetings, thanks to Ruddington Parish Council, where we can put forward suggestions and concerns from residents.”

Only time will tell what action might be taken by RBC if, indeed, the 36th ‘Wilbur Chase’ property does become occupied before all the agreed highway improvements around our village have been completed. We’ll keep you posted!

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