Government inspector rejects second attempt to build homes on Cople village back gardens

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Northill Road, Cople (image: Google maps)

A Government planning inspector has rejected a second attempt to build homes on back gardens in Cople.

Five landowners, including the Shuttleworth Trust, took their case for building up to five homes on land behind 14-20 Northill Road to the Planning Inspectorate after Bedford Borough Council rejected an application.

An earlier bid to build seven houses on the 0.33 hectare site had also been doubly rejected by the council and then Planning Inspectorate on another appeal.

Planning agent, Abel Bunu of Robinson Hall, in submissions to the council had wanted to establish the principle of residential development, with the number of homes to be decided by negotiation.

He said: “The site is currently vacant and overgrown and detracts from the character and appearance of the area.

“Its development as proposed would enhance the visual appearance of the setting of the non-designated assets and would represent the effective use of land.”

He also said that the plan would be acceptable because the land is within the village and constitutes a “windfall” site for much-needed housing in the borough.

But planning inspector Tom Gilbert-Wooldridge, in his decision announced on June 11, rejected most of the applicant’s arguments.

“The dwellings would represent backland development not in keeping with this part of the village, harming the spacious and green setting in this location,” he said.

He also said that the development would have a “harmful effect” on the 14-20 Northill Road which he said are “non-designated heritage assets.”

They are Duke of Bedford cottages and have historic interest as estate workers’ cottages.

In its favour, the inspector said the development would deliver additional housing and make a more effective use of land. He also agreed that the site was within the settlement area of the village.

But he concluded that the council has enough housing land supply to last five years and added: “it has not been demonstrated that the site would be suitable for up to five dwellings.”

The inspector, who visited the village on May 25, said interested parties had raised a number of other concerns.

But he concluded: “Given my overall findings on the main issues, it has not been necessary to consider these in any detail.”

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