A neighbour has won a victory against planners over a proposed housing development in his street.
In July this year, the development management committee of Aylesbury District Council (AVDC) approved plans for 10 new homes on the site of a large Victorian house at 23 Station Road, Winslow – despite a report by its own Historic Buildings Officer.
The planning application was the fourth attempt at getting permission for a development on the site.
Now AVDC’s decision to approve the application is to be quashed, after a successful legal challenge by a Station Road resident.
Stephen Barker, aged 41, raised a judicial review against AVDC’s decision, on the grounds that it did not take proper consideration of the fact that the site is within the Winslow Conservation Area.
Civil engineer Mr Barker said: “I could see something wasn’t right and I thought somebody needed to do something about it. I don’t believe the development that’s been proposed is appropriate for the Winslow Conservation Area.
“I took legal advice and I was advised by my lawyers there were grounds for a judicial review.
“AVDC say they won’t contest it.
“Unfortunately, AVDC don’t have the power to overturn their own decision, so it has to go through the court process.
“The application is now in a queue waiting to be heard by the High Court.”
Although some of the work has been done on a no-win-no-fee basis, Mr Barker said the legal challenge has left him out of pocket.
He said: “I’m not a rich person and it’s put a strain on me financially.”
Town councillor Roy van de Poll, who sits on the town council’s development committee, said: “We welcome the news of the quashing of the approval as this will hopefully ensure that the site will be developed sympathetically to its location within the Winslow Conservation Area.
“The town council has strongly objected to all the applications for the site, supported by the reports of AVDC’s Historic Buildings Officer, which were very critical of the schemes proposed because of the adverse impacts on the conservation area.”
Mr van de Poll added: “Winslow Town Council was very surprised and somewhat annoyed to learn from a member of the public that the approval decision for the 23 Station Road application was in the process of being legally quashed following the legal challenge by a Winslow resident. We feel that for AVDC not to communicate this information promptly to the interested parties is unacceptable.”
District councillor for Winslow Sue Renshell, who serves on the AVDC committee which approved the application, only found out the decision was to be quashed at last week’s Winslow Town Council meeting.
Mrs Renshell, who voted for the application, said: “I was surprised not to know about it sooner and, as the application is in my ward, I think out of courtesy I should have been informed earlier.”
Where development is proposed in a conservation area, Section 72 of the 1990 Planning Act requires special attention to be paid to the desirability of preserving and enhancing the character or appearance of that area.
AVDC development manager Susan Kitchen said: “After careful consideration, the council has agreed to the quashing order because the reasoning of the officer’s report does not make specific reference to the section 72 duty, and could be interpreted to be ambiguous as to whether it is sufficiently clear to demonstrate that the development would cause no harm to the Winslow Conservation Area.
“Following the quashing of the permission and upon the re-determination of the application, the officer’s report will make it clear that in his opinion, the development does not harm the Winslow Conservation Area and, as such, the section 72 duty is not triggered.”