A letter from Stowe Nine Churches Parish Council:
Development site on the A5 at Stowe Hill
The application for this site was opposed by Stowe Nine Churches, Weedon Bec and Flore Parish Councils and by South Northants Council and Highways England, but was granted by Daventry District Council (DDC). Objections included the unsafe access onto and off the A5, development in the open countryside and the long-term intentions of the applicant for more than one pitch or for use as a transit site. Stowe Parish Council has also always had concerns about the ability of DDC to adequately enforce any transgressions of the permission.
The consent was for ’Use of land for stationing of caravans for residential purposes Oner Gypsy and Traveller pitches, formation of hardstanding, resurfacing of partially overgrown access track and conversion of existing building to dayroom ancillary to that use’ with a condition that ‘no more than one mobile home and one day van shall be stationed on the site at any one time’ and one that ‘The development shall not be occupied until highway improvement works to the access from the site to the A5 are compete…’
In April, Stowe Nine Churches PC raised the matter of the significant clearing of the site far in excess of that which had been approved and asked DDC to ensure that the development complied with the original proposal ‘and that additional pitches are not approved retrospectively’.
In May 2019 the Deputy Chief Executive of DDC said that there were ‘on-site unauthorised works to create a hardstanding beyond the planning permission’………..that ‘a retrospective/new application had been suggested’ and ‘their intention that additional vans will be coming to live on the site – they say in 2-3 years . He states that DDC were taking legal advice on their options but that there was no intention on the part of DDC to use that site as a ‘Stopping Place’.
Since May, Stowe Nine Churches has been supported by the Weedon District Councillors in endeavouring to ensure that DDC enforces the terms of the original planning consent, with little success. We were told that no residents would be allowed on the site until the Highways England requirements for the entrance were met – which was a condition of the permission! -These works have not been completed, but there are now at least 5 static units on the site and rumours that up to 30 more units could be added once the necessary hard core has been delivered (3000 tonnes in 150 loads has been ordered from a local contractor!).
Executive Director (Community) Maria Taylor stated recently that the site is approved for residential use ‘for one traveller family only’ but that is not what the original permission said (see above). There is a difference between one pitch (1 static and 1 mobile home) and one family – which could be a very extended family group in multiple caravans, and the consent was not personal to one family.
Our concern has always been that we did not feel confident that DDC would ensure that the terms of the original permission would be adhered to, on the basis that previous developments within the parish have been granted retrospective consent when works had ‘strayed’ from the original plans.
The Parish Council (Stowe Nine Churches) monitors all of the consents applied for and granted, as they occur and until the development is completed, and has called attention to perceived breaches as appropriate. The system and rules should be made to work for everyone, not just those residents who are careful to comply with what has been granted. If developers and land owners believe that they can do as they please, confident that they can get ’retrospective consent’ after they have built what they wanted, what is the point of the planning system?
Councillor Johnnie Amos, who has been dealing with this matter on behalf of the Parish Council, has been asked by DDC officers – where is the harm? How many people care about what is happening? He has suggested that as a Parish Council we canvass the opinion of our residents.
If you feel as strongly as the Parish Councillors do – that ‘permission’ should mean what it says, then write to email@example.com and let them know how you feel. The more correspondence they receive, the more likely they are to act. (Please copy in the parish clerk so that we can monitor the level of concern firstname.lastname@example.org )
Circulated by Stowe Nine Churches Parish Council
Daventry District Council planning website direct link: Application Number DA/2015/0195
Reference Number: DA/2015/0195
Registration Date: 09-Mar-2015
Application Type: FULL PLANNING
Parish: Stowe Nine Churches
Main Location: Land At Stowe Hill, Watling Street, Weedon (Stowe IX Churches Parish), Northamptonshire
Case Officer: Mr B Allen
Proposal: Use of land for stationing of caravans for residential purposes 1 No. gypsy and traveller pitches, formation of hardstanding, resurfacing of partially overgrown access track and conversion of existing building to dayroom ancillary to that use. Part Restrospective.
Decision: Approval Full
Decision Date: 05-Feb-2016