The fate of Burgage Hill was decided at a meeting of Newark District Council’s Planning Committee on January 12th when councillors decide by 15 votes to 5 to accept the proposed development brief prepared by the Conservation Officer, Mr Bob Harrison, and give outline planning permission for the land.
Mr Harrision’s new brief suggests the building of not more than five dwellings on Burgage Hill, including the renovation of an existing 18th century coach house. It is the District Council’s intention to pass on to Southwell Parish Council the area of land shaded on the diagram (not shown). This would become an open public space, maintained and landscaped in much the same way as Burgage Green.
Access to the new houses would be from Newark Road but it is also planned to provide a pedestrian access only to the group of houses from the Burgage. Southwell Civic Society, Southwell Parish Council and other conservation groups in Nottinghamshire held out in their complete opposition to the District Council’s plans, pointing out the future danger of proliferation of extra houses in the grounds of adjacent properties which would destroy the present character of the Burgage and its environs. These groups also had their objections forcefully put to the planning committee by Councillor David Payne, who pointed out the as yet unanswered question of inconsistency in the District Council’s behavior over this proposal.
It has been consistently argued by those objecting to any development on the site that the District Council has for years turned down planning applications from residents in adjoining properties on the grounds that any development would ‘detract from the visual amenities’ of neighbouring properties. And yet here is the District Council granting itself permission to do what it has denied others. Not only has the District Council argued against development in this ae in the past, but the Department of the Environment, when asked to arbitrate a planning application that went to appeal, rejected the appeal application by quoting ‘the evidence of the District Council that if permission were to be grated it would be difficult to resist further applications for a consolidation of development in the area. Such proliferation would undoubtedly be detrimental to the appearance and character of this sector of the township.’ Neither Mr Harrision nor members of the District Council were able to explain how a planning authority could react in this way to an application for a single dwelling and less than two years later prepare their own design brief permitting up to 25 and now 5 dwellings. The Council were accused of double standards and of blatantly allowing commercial pressures to overrule planning considerations.
It’s difficult to see how the District Councillors can justify their action with any sense of justice. “Your not even fined for rape in this case” was Councillor David Payne’s final comment.