Residents’ Action Group (RAG)
With three planning applications now in progress for travellers’ sites on Ashley Road, a Residents’ Action Group has been formed, to work with the Parish Councils to:
- Preserve the rural character of our villages and surrounding countryside;
- Protect the health and wellbeing of the community from the risks of unsustainable and unsafe developments, that do not comply with planning policies; and
- Campaign for the planning regulations to be the same for all members of the community
If you’d like to join, support or make a financial donation the group, please email middletonRAG@gmail.com.
You can find out more about the planning applications in the dropdown sections below.
Action needed: Deadline for comments on the appeal against the enforcement notice at Peasdale Hill Field is 21 April 2021.
An appeal has been lodged against Corby Borough Council’s enforcement notice requiring Peasdale Hill Field to be restored to the condition it was in prior to the unauthorised work being carried out.
The enforcement part of the Council’s notice, issued on 26 January, will be held in abeyance until the retrospective planning application (Ref NC/21/00036/DPA) has been determined. However, the Council’s Stop Notice is still active and will remain so unless the appeal against the enforcement notice is successful, or planning permission is granted.
The appellant is objecting to the enforcement notice on the grounds that:
- Ground F – they feel the steps required to comply with the requirement of the notice are excessive, and that lesser steps would overcome the objections; and
- Ground G – the timescale of the requirements of the enforcement notice is too short.
Middleton Residents’ Action Group (RAG) advises that they will be supporting CBC issuing this enforcement notice, and encourages all residents of the community to do the same.
You can respond online through the Planning Inspectorate’s website or, if you want to submit your comments in writing, please send three copies to Nick Manley, The Planning Inspectorate, Room 3B, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol, BS1 6PN, quoting appeal reference APP/U2805/C/21/3269943. The deadline for comments is 21 April 2021. You must provide your name and address to submit your comments, but you can request for these to be withheld.
RAG wishes to remind villagers that:
- Peasdale Hill Field is in a red zone for great crested newts. In accordance with the Biodiversity SPD, where there is the likelihood of protected species such as great crested newt, bats and badgers, an authorised development (which this isn’t) would require a detailed preliminary ecological appraisal. Surveys for these creatures should have been completed before any development took place to ensure their protection.
- Policy 4 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires the owner of the field to show how development on it would deliver net biodiversity gain.
- Because the field boundaries haven’t changed since the 1800s, they qualify as important under hedgerow regulations.
- No check for historic artifacts has taken place. Peasdale Hill Field borders a Roman road and historic artifacts have been found in surrounding fields.
- The ridge and furrow has been in place for hundreds of years offering microhabitats producing biodiversity over and above that of a flat field.
- The county archaeological officer states that the ridge and furrow in this field is an excellent example of an increasingly rare landscape feature.
- Neighbouring fields are now being affected due to the delicate ridge and furrow drainage system, which has been disrupted by this development
RAG is preparing templates to assist the community to support the enforcement notice. Should the community wish to receive copies of these templates, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A retrospective planning application has been submitted for 5 gypsy and traveller pitches on the portion of the field nearest to the road. Each pitch would contain a mobile home, a touring caravan and a day room.
The deadline for comments on this planning application has been extended to 21 March (originally 25 February).
- You can log your comments through the Planning Portal;
- Email your comments to Iain Smith, Head of Planning and Environmental Services at email@example.com; or
- Write to Iain Smith, Head of Planning and Environmental Services, Corby Borough Council, One Stop Shop, George Street, Corby, Northants NN17 1QB
Comments need to be constructive, relevant and relate to planning issues. You are not confined to one response per household.
Parish Council responses to the planning application will be made available once they have met and agreed their submissions.
Middleton Residents’ Action Group has pulled together the following points that you may want to consider.
- Peasdale Hill field is across the road from the Welland River flood plain. The extent of the flood plain expands year on year as the climate becomes warmer and wetter. In 2020 flooding has extended to fields south of the road.
- The site is at the bottom of a hill and will regularly flood with water run-off. There was a pond within the site which has already been filled-in by the unauthorised work undertaken – an important wildlife habitat and a natural soak away has been destroyed.
- There is no evidence that the site can be adequately served with an appropriate means of sewage disposal. Installing a package sewage treatment plant needs to be considered alongside the drainage of the field, the ground conditions, ground water levels etc. Given the proximity to the flood plain and the water table, there is a high risk of contamination. Inadequate surface and foul water drainage, with large areas of hard standing and no prior assessment of ground water conditions, will impact not only on the application site but also adjoining land.
- The site was cleared without any survey of the flora and fauna of the area and whether it was home to any protected species. A historic ridge and furrow field which has been left untouched for hundreds of years has been partly destroyed. There are crested newts known to live in the area and no regard has been given to assessing the suitability of the field for this type of development. We believe this to be in contravention of the Countryside Act.
- The southern boundary of the proposed development extends beyond a pond in the neighbouring field (just the other side of the hedge) in which protected species have been sighted. The extension of the site this far to the south would not be appropriate due to the danger of run off and pollution from the site affecting the pond.
- The proposed development is on the site of a Roman road, there have been historic finds the area and an archaeological survey was not undertaken prior to works commencing.
- Policy 31 of the North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy states that the sites should closely link to an existing settlement with an adequate range of services. The proposed development is 0.6 miles from the edge of the settled area of the village and is located on a very narrow, unlit road with no footpath and no grass verge. Access into Middleton on foot or pushing a buggy would be very dangerous as two large cars can barely pass on some sections of the road.
- The primary school in neighbouring Cottingham is a single form entry with an intake of 20. It is highly questionable whether services and facilities would readily accommodate the additional family units proposed.
- It is a requirement that the same standards of amenity should be applied to a traveller site as for other residential use. The building of a house on this site, in open countryside, would not be approved.
- Paragraph 127 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that development should add to the overall quality of an area and be sympathetic to local character including landscape. This development is wholly unsympathetic with the rural character of the Welland Valley and its location in an ancient ridge and furrow field.
- Para 170 of the NPPF says that development should protect and enhance valued landscapes and the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and provide for net gains for biodiversity. The proposed development has an extremely detrimental impact on a rich and diverse habitat which is known by local residents to contain great crested newts and has recently been independently assessed by an independent expert.
- The Planning Policy for Traveller Sites states that the scale of sites should not dominate local settlements. The number of existing traveller sites, along with areas of land currently with planning applications or appeals outstanding, dominate the village of Middleton in terms of acreage, to a significant degree.
- Para 25 of the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites states that local planning authorities should restrict development in the open countryside and that weight should be given to use of previously developed land and those sites landscaped to enhance the environment. This field has not been cultivated in hundreds of years and a caravan site on this spot will not enhance the environment in any way.
- Part of the hedgerow bounding the road has already been removed as has the five-bar gate and gate posts. The proposed treatment at the gateway is not specified on the plans submitted but, if it is to re-instate the five-bar gate, that is unlikely to give sufficient visibility for the access and egress of touring caravans on such a bend with poor visibility in either direction.
Corby Borough Council refused planning permission in July 2020 for additional pitches and the new entrance to the existing Travellers’ site on Ashley Road, Middleton. An appeal was lodged in September 2020 but the period for comments to the Planning Inspectorate has not yet started as the case has not yet been allocated to an Inspector.
Once this has happened and a deadline for comments is known, Middleton Parish Council will inform residents how they can send their comments to the Planning Inspector.
This planning application for additional traveller pitches on the field to the south of Oakley Park was unanimously refused by Councillors at Corby Borough Council Development Control Committee on Tuesday 16 February.
Planners had recommended approval (with no less than 19 conditions attached), but Councillors refused the application, citing concerns over sewage, flood risk and the need for site occupants to walk along an unlit, 60 MPH road with no footpath to reach village facilities.
Thanks to Sarah Brant (Middleton Parish Council), David Grayson (Cottingham Parish Council) and Cllr David Sims for speaking at the meeting on our behalf. You can view a recording of the meeting on the Borough Council’s YouTube Channel.
This planning application was for 6 traveller pitches (each comprising a static van, a travelling van and an amenity building) and changes to the existing field access. The proposal would take up part of the field with the remainder proposed as a grass paddock.
You can view the application details, accompanying documents and plans, on the Corby Borough Council Planning Portal, entering the application number 20/00458/COU in the search box provided.
The deadline for comments was 20 December 2020, and 130 members of the public objected to the application. In addition, all four local Parish Councils, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, the Highways Authority, Environment Agency, the Police and the local MP have raised objections or reservations.
Middleton PC response – Land to South of Oakley Park
Cottingham PC response – Land to South of Oakley Park
Ashley PC response – Land to South of Oakley Park
CPRE response – Land to South of Oakley Park
NCC Highways response – Land to South of Oakley Park
Here are some of the issues that were presented.
- If approved, it would double the number of sites on the edge of Middleton and if the ongoing planning appeal in relation to Oakley Park is successful, it would treble the number of sites on the edge of Middleton.
- With the Little Meadow Travellers’ site at the other end of Cottingham, an additional site in this location would be disproportionate. No assessment has been undertaken of the impact of an additional traveller site on the small village of Middleton. Paragraph 14 of the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites clearly indicates that when assessing the suitability of sites in rural settings Planning Authorities should ensure that the scale does not dominate the nearest settled community. The current Oakley Park site comprises 12 large static vans and a number travelling vans with more arriving every week.
- The application doesn’t comply with the criteria detailed in Policy 31 of the North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy 2001-2031 (adopted July 2016) setting out the criteria against which applications for new sites should be considered. The application relies heavily on appeal decisions pre-dating the adoption of the JCS in 2016 and the Planning Policy for Travellers’ Sites issued in August 2015. The appeal Inspectors did not have access to either document and therefore limited weight can be placed on their decisions.
- Corby’s Part II local plan (not in place when the earlier Appeals were upheld) says sewage works are bad neighbours. The appeal Inspector in 2012 stated that residents on this site would be adversely affected on occasions by unpleasant odour emissions from the Middleton sewage works and the sewage works is carrying more load since then. The application does not include an odour assessment and the statement from the applicant fails to address the health and well-being of residents in this regard.
- The foul water discharge arrangements are inappropriate, especially when the site is across the road from a sewage works. Advice from the Environment Agency is that private sewage treatment facilities should only be used when it is not reasonable for a development to be connected to a public sewer because of the greater risk of failure of private sewage systems. The application would therefore be contrary to criterion (d) of Policy 31.
The proposed site is across the road from a stream that feeds through to the River Welland and this would quickly become contaminated if there are any failures in the sewage system. The planning application form denies that the site is near a water course.
Six new amenity blocks supporting six families will produce a large amount of foul water and should link to the main sewage system to be sustainable.
- The site would have an impact on the rural character of the area in contravention of criterion (h) of policy 31. The applicant has already removed metres of mature hedging between the site and Oakley Park and plans to erect 2-meter-high wooden boundary fencing, totally out of keeping with the local character of the rural environment.
- High boarded fencing is in contravention of the Planning Policy for Travellers sites, giving the impression that the residents are ‘deliberately cut off’.
- The introduction of hard standing will reduce the possibility of natural drainage and aggravate the water run off problem in the area which is currently one of the hotspots identified in the Middleton Pathfinder Resilience Project coordinated by Northants County Council.
- Approval of a second traveller site (or third site if the current appeal is upheld) in this location will significantly increase the vehicle movements close to a very sharp bend which is effectively a cross roads as it also accommodates the entrance to the Water Treatment works and to Occupation Lane used by farmers accessing fields north to the Welland and those parking to walk the Jurassic Way. The introduction of dwellings for six extended families on this site will lead to more than 12 vehicles coming and going from the site.
- There is no information available in the plans for the gateway to the site. The details of the access are important to consultees to allow them to assess the implications for highway safety and visual impact and should not be held for subsequent consideration.
The application does not have appropriate landscaping or boundary treatments that are in keeping with the rural landscape of the area.
Misleading information in the planning application
In Section 7 of the form the applicant states it has made no plans for waste storage or collection which surely cannot be acceptable to the Borough Council.
In section 11 on trees and hedges the applicant says there are no trees and hedges on or adjacent to the site. There are trees and hedges surrounding the site in question and a mature hedge has already been removed to make an opening with the existing Oakley Park site. The application is misleading in this respect.
In section 12 the applicant says that the site is not within 20 metres of a water course. It is in fact across the road from a stream that leads north directly to the River Welland and therefore the planning application form is incorrect.
If you would like to speak to someone about the planning application, please contact your local Parish Councillor.