Sixty new homes in Whitby: why decision has been deferred for second time

For the second month running Scarborough councillors have declined to make a decision about whether a  developer can build more than 60 new homes on land near Whitby Abbey.

The authority’s planning committee today (Tues) again decided it needed more information from the Highways Authority about the scheme, which has significant local objections.

It was the second time in less than four weeks that Scarborough Council’s planning committee had met to discuss the plans by Wharfedale Homes Limited to put 62 homes in a field off Green Lane, not far from the iconic structure which looms over the town.

Last month, the same committee deferred a decision due to concerns about access to the site and the impact the increase in vehicle movements would have.

The area earmarked for development.

Councillors took a site visit last week but today again decided that they did not want to approve or refuse the application.

The committee heard from local resident Joyce Powell, who said that the traffic on Green Lane was dangerous and would only be made worse by allowing more homes to be built.

She said: “I urge the members of this committee for the safety of our community, but more importantly, the safety of our children to use the power that you have to and turn down the application.”

Whitby ward Cllr Stewart Campbell told the meeting he could not support the application.

The field off Green Lane, Whitby, which could be turned into a housing development.

He said: “I have major concerns that this is a tipping point for this road.

“I don’t think it would be appropriate to grant this application on those grounds. “

His fellow Whitby councillor Michael Stonehouse added that the road was reaching a “tipping point” and that near-misses would turn into serious accidents if approval was granted.

Council planning officer Daniel Metcalfe said that there was no evidence to back up claims that the road was dangerous.

He said: “There was an accident in 2014 and two in 2015 that were classed as being of ‘slight severity’.

In one case, someone ran over their passenger's foot.

“There have been very few accidents in the last decade and those there have, have been of an extremely minor nature. It is certainly not an accident blackspot

“The experts in this matter, the Highway Authority, are saying it is safe, that is their view.”

Cllr David Jeffels said that the council should, once again, ask for more information from the Highway Authority about the scheme following the fears raised by residents and councillors.

He said: “I think at this stage we should heed those concerns and defer a decision on this application to give the Highway Authority time to take on board the many concerns that have been raised by the people who know it best.”

Cllr Subash Sharma, one of the two councillors to vote against deferring the application for a second time, asked why the Highways Authority would change its view at the third time of asking.

He said: “In the end, the Highways [Authority] have statistics, they will look at them again and unless they have done something terrible and have made a complete and utter hash of this then I do not expect them to change their mind about the essence of their advice.

“So we could be here in another month’s time with exactly the same position, knowing full well that there is a demand for housing.”

The authority’s planning manager, David Walker, told the committee that deferring the application could lead to the applicant appealing a “non-determination” by the council if it felt the councillors were dragging their feet.

In that case a planning inspector would take the decision.

The committee voted to defer the application by 10 votes to two.

The land is part of the council’s local plan and was found to be acceptable for housing by a planning inspector following a public consultation.

Across two separate consultations 52 letters of objection were sent to the borough council by residents regarding fears about overdevelopment of the site, traffic issues and the impact on the nearby homes that would be overlooked.

The two consultations were required after Wharfedale changed its original plan, which was to build 58 houses and a block of 12 flats.

That was then changed to 57 houses and five one-bedroom flats.

A total of 19 of the properties would be classed as affordable.