A THURROCK councillor stood alone in a battle to get new homes built on Thurrock greenbelt.
Ward councillor for Chadwell St Mary, cllr Gerard Rice ploughed a lone furrow of protest against a recommendation by officers to reject an application for three two-storey homes on a field in Bulphan.
The scheme was put forward by the owners of Portland Lodge, where a home and industrial buildings sit adjacent to a field, all alongside the A128.
Earlier this year permission was granted for five new homes to be built on the ‘footprint’ of the existing industrial buildings and at last week’s meeting of Thurrock Council’s planning committee the agent for the applicants, Mr Peter le Grys, argued it would be appropriate development to allow three more on a field on the site.
He told the committee: ”The consideration in this case follows the approval in September for the development of five dwellings on land immediately to the front of this site.
“The approved development is also in the greenbelt with the same policies as quoted in the officer’s report today. Together with the substantial property at Portland Lodge, the site will now form a group of dwelling houses to the east of Brentwood Road. The land will be bordered on two sides by the existing house, stables, swimming pool, annexe and the new residential development.
“The land contains a number of structures including chicken frames, domestic outbuildings and play equipment. It is used as a skate park, for the storage of steel ship containers and bouncy castles. The proposal will be directly behind these new houses and would not have any greater impact upon the open countryside. It does not have an open aspect or contribute to the appearance of the rural area. “
He was backed in his bid by Cllr Rice, who said: “This plan is within the boundary of Portland Lodge and though I have heard the officers’ reasoning but I am at a loss to understand it.
“I could understand their reluctance if this were an open site but as it is, this plan is within the curtilage of the site.
“I am just amazed. We need high quality housing and that is what we would be getting on this site. I cannot understand why we cannot find the reasons to approve this site.
It is such a minor exception in the green belt and it wouldn’t do any harm to the greenbelt. We gave permission for five other homes on the site, we are not achieving our housing targets so why not approve these three homes which as I have said, are in the curtilage of the site?”
Head of planning and growth Andrew Millard answered Cllr Rice by saying there were clear differences between the two applications and added that the lack of achievement in the Council’s five year housing plan was not a significant reason to divert from the Council’s policy on greenbelt. and he added: “This is on open land, with no building or structures.”
Cllr Brian Little, a ward councillor in Bulphan and member of the committee, agreed with Mr Millard and said: “This looks very much like open land to me and it’s a rural area.”
When it came to a vote all the other members backed the officers’ recommendation to refuse the plan, though Cllr Rice stuck to his guns and voted against it.