Mixed views on plans to build housing estates in dale villages
A PARISH council has unanimously objected to controversial housing plans.
Staindrop Parish Council voiced concerns to Raby Estates’ plan for 72 homes on land west of Grice Court, in Winston Road, at an extra-ordinary meeting held via Zoom video conferencing.
The meeting saw 21 members of the public, two county councillors and Durham County Council planning officers attend.
Raby Estates says the project will raise funds to improve facilities at Raby Castle and to boost its tourist income.
The scheme proposes a mix of one, two, three, four and five bedroomed houses with a number of one and two-bedroomed apartments.
Five per cent of the properties would be classed as affordable. There would be 179 parking spaces including 20 on street visitor bays.
Vice parish chairman Cllr Ian Royston said: “The parish council recognises that this is the most significant development in some years.”
He added two public consultations had been held regarding the development and a poll held at the last one revealed 58 per cent were in favour of the scheme, with 42 per cent against.
Durham County Council planning officer Laura Eden said a request for the application to be decided by full planning committee.
Staindrop resident Janyne Collingwood said: “I live in Winston Road and ask that parish council consider what’s in the best interest of the village.
“There is no need or demand for this amount of housing and feel the development is disproportionate to the size of the village.
“It is not in the interests of the village, but it is in Lord Barnard’s. It feels like a money-making scheme.”
She also raised concerns about flood risks to other properties in Winston Road should the development be given the go ahead.
Ms Collingwood added: “Raby Estates has a wealth of land that is not a flood risk and this is a huge development that would make things worse.
It would bring massive problems with traffic. We feel very passionately about the village. There is already enough planned housing in the village.”
Kelly Barron-Hughes said maintaining green space was important for people’s mental health.
She added: “There is a huge surge in people discovering pieces of green space and getting into the fresh air and I believe that is good for the people of Staindrop.
“Durham County Council prides itself on having the cleanest air in the country and we need to do all we can to keep that. It is important to look after what nature has given us.”
Cllr Roger Humphries said the scheme could completely change the approach to the village.
He added the affordable housing allocation was not much benefit to the residents of Staindrop and said it would normally be 20 per cent.
He said: “It is quite clear the raising of cash for Raby Castle is of paramount importance but we should have 20 per cent.
“This provides no benefit for the people of Staindrop if they can’t afford expensive houses.”
Cllr Humphries added there were many areas of the application which “diverged” from planning policy, pointing out if the Section 106 money related to the castle then this could be a legal issue.
Section 106 money is given to communities by developers to off-set the impact of houing schemes
He said: “I think the Section 106 will relate to the works at Raby Castle. I can’t imagine there will be any public cash being made available to the footpaths. This could amount to the buying and selling of a planning application.”
The council voted unanimously to object to the development.
After the meeting, a spokesperson for Raby Estates said "We are obviously disappointed by the decision of Staindrop Parish Council. We are extremely proud of the proposals, worked up by award winning architect Ben Pentreath. The custom-designed development will, in our view, be a real asset for the village. Clearly the community has expressed concerns on specific matters such as highways, but we are confident that the solutions proposed will meet the necessary high standards. During our own public consultation for the proposals, a majority of people were in support, saying the village needed more housing to sustain services such as schools and shops, and so it would appear that the parish council’s views do not necessarily reflect those of the community. We remain committed to working with the parish on these proposals."
PLANS to build 79 homes in a Teesdale village will turn it into a suburb or small town, say objectors who also fear a loss of rural identity, flooding and traffic.
However, other residents of Gainford say the scheme will help secure the future of the village school as well as businesses. The proposals have been submitted by Raby Estates for land off Spa Road. Estate chief executive Duncan Peake says the profits will help fund the restoration of Gainford Hall and a revamp of tourist facilities at Raby Castle. Gainford Parish Council held an extraordinary meeting via video conferencing last Wednesday. Residents were invited to have their say and about 40 people took part. Objector Simon Owens said the development was significant because the homes would be built outside the village’s development limits.
He asked: “When does a village stop becoming a village and start becoming a suburb?”
Mr Owens also warned that it would set a precedent with other landowners looking to sell fields to developers. He was worried about the lack of a play area for children and said they would have to cross the busy A67 to get to the recreational field.
Resident Ian West said: “I have no problem with additional houses – it will bring in new blood and preserve enterprises in the village. But my primary concern is the access.”
He called for a mini-roundabout on the A67 and a pelican crossing.
Villager Andrew Wilkinson told the meeting that people living near the proposed site were not aware of the scheme. Mr Wilkinson said: “We back on to the development and I can count on one hand the number of cars that are actually doing the speed limit on the A67. This will be a blackspot – Gainford will feel more like a town than a village.”
He was also worried about countryside views, wildlife and dark skies being lost. Another villager said an influx of people would keep Gainford Primary School going, but he was worried about the GP surgery’s car park being overwhelmed.
Resident Louise Westmorland told the council how Spa Road had flooded badly in previous years. This led to the drainage being fixed on the proposed development site, she said.
“I don’t think they realise the role that big field plays in stopping water. It acts as a sink,” she said. Villager Carol Jackson agreed: “We were flooded right up to the front door. We had sandbags. It was horrendous. Its a concern that once they start building, it will be a problem that can’t be rectified.”
Resident John Lavender told councillors that Durham County Council had earmarked a sufficient supply of homes to meet the need.
“This will make Gainford urban – it will lose its rural nature,” added Mr Lavender who also asked why there were not more affordable homes planned for the estate. There are just four units – and those are apartments,” he said.
Roger Tyrrell suggested that Raby Estates could sell Gainford Hall without restoration work, destroying part of the original argument for the estate.
Parish chairwoman Cllr Lisa Johnstone said Raby Estates had submitted 102 documents as part of the application – with some more than 100 pages. She said the deadline for comments, which was due to end on Friday, June 12, should be extended.
Cllr Richard Roff said he appreciated people’s concerns but added: “Increasing the scale of the village has its plus and minuses. Protecting commercial enterprises and other facilities in the village is a plus. The school has fewer kids and there are also fewer commercial enterprises in the village than when I first moved here.”
Parish councillors agreed to request more time for people to make comments and will plan a second online public meeting for residents, so more people could have a say.
The date of the meeting will be advertised on gainfordandlangtonparishcouncil.org.uk