Conditional planning permission granted for Cuckoo Hill
Babergh District Council today approved retrospective planning permission for two homes on Cuckoo Hill, subject to partial demolition and modifications to address concerns raised by both the council and community.
Applicant Stemar Group originally received the go-ahead for the development of six homes on the former slaughterhouse site in Bures St Mary in 2015. However, when some of the completed homes were found to be higher than agreed, Babergh District Council’s planning enforcement team stepped in to challenge – with an independent planning inspector finding in favour of the council following a lengthy public inquiry last year, but also anticipating that the developer might wish to explore an alternative scheme to total demolition.
Today councillors considered a new application submitted by the Stemar Group to rectify errors made in the building of plots five and six – including a significant reduction to the height of the existing homes and attached garages, as well as the removal of prominent first floor windows – addressing concerns about the homes overlooking neighbouring properties.
After examining the detail of the application – and subsequent debate – the committee voted by nine to one in favour of authorising the chief planning officer to approve conditional planning permission for plots five and six.
Their decision included a caveat to ensure the partial demolition of the existing buildings and subsequent rebuild is carried out as promptly as possible to rectify the situation for the community, and allow the council to legally enforce any breaches to the agreement. In addition, councillors imposed a requirement to ensure that the parish council be kept informed on progress with the approved works.
A financial bond will also be required from the developer to provide assurance that Babergh District Council can complete the modifications itself, if necessary, without cost to the taxpayer.
In reaching their decision, councillors also considered the alternative of insisting on the complete demolition of the homes – the preferred option of neighbouring residents and the parish council. However, this would have meant the land could still be developed in accordance with proposals approved in 2015, which planning officers felt was less desirable than modifying the existing homes, designed in keeping with the historic environment. There were also concerns that total demolition of the plots would pose problems for the drainage system for neighbouring homes.
Cllr Clive Arthey, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for planning said:
“Our planning officers have fought long and hard to get the best possible outcome for Bures St Mary, on what has been a lengthy and complex planning enforcement case.
“Whilst our council welcomed the Planning Inspectorate finding in our favour on Cuckoo Hill – sending a very clear message to developers that we will take legal action if planning conditions are breached – we also believe that complete demolition was not the best option on this occasion.
“Instead our planning and enforcement officers have worked with the developer to find a solution which addresses previous concerns without the need to totally rebuild plots five and six, which, in accordance with historic permission, may have resulted in more intrusive homes than those approved today.
“I support the committee’s decision to grant planning permission on the basis that this comes with a great deal of conditions for the developer, who must now spend time and considerable expense rectifying their previous errors – serving as an important reminder of the consequences of unauthorised development.”