Sunday, 7 August 2016

Development of land behind Village Hall

Outline planning application

This item is scheduled on the Agenda for the Parish Council meeting for Tuesday 9th August, so I thought my readers might be interested in some background information.

The area behind the Village Hall was used as a playing field for many years. The site of 3.795 acres was originally let to the Parish Council under a 30-year lease which expired in 2003.

The 30-year lease was originally drawn up between Tom's Foods Ltd (which owned Nocton Estate) and Nocton Parish Council on 17th April 1973, whereby they would rent the land for £4 per annum "to be used only as a cricket and football field and recreation ground and for athletic sports and playing other games".

This land was used actively throughout by the local community. It was regularly mown during its use for football matches, there was an enclosed tennis court, a children's play area with a swing, a large slide built on a mound and a roundabout.

However, in the latter years of the lease things began to change. The football team was disbanded and the field wasn't mown so often, then the tennis courts and play equipment fell into disrepair and weren't replaced. Furthermore, in 1995 the Nocton Estate changed hands (being purchased by Mr & Mrs Paul Clarke, trading as Nocton Ltd) and with it the influence over the lease.

This change of ownership was ultimately to affect the availability of this village amenity land, because on 25th March 2003 the Parish Council's right to use the field behind the Village Hall expired and wasn't offered for renewal by Nocton Ltd.

Rather than continuing to support the local community in leasing this amenity land, the new owners of Nocton Estate decided to seek development of the site for housing. There were draft plans in January 2003 to build 20+ dwellings on this plot - drawn up by Clive Wicks Associates, Old School House, 36 Boston Rd, Sleaford, NG34 7EZ.

However, these plans never came to fruition and the amenity area has since been used as a paddock and grazing for locally-owned horses and ponies. Thirteen years later, it now seems there is an attempt to develop the land again for housing.

The Parish Council have recently informed the community that a notice has been posted under the 'Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015. The notice is a requisite under Article 14 and mentions:
  • "Outline planning application for up to 1 (one) detached dwelling"... by "THE PAUL & ANNE CLARKE 2009 DISCRETIONARY SETTLEMENTS".

According to the Land Registry, the land behind the Village Hall is recorded under Title No: LL328256 and described as "land on the south side of Wellhead Lane, Nocton". It is shown as registered to:
  • PAUL RICHARD CLARKE and ANNE ELIZABETH CLARKE of Coombe House, Ham Spray, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 3QZ, and
  • JAMES ANGUS CHETWODE BURNETT of 25 St Thomas Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9HJ.

Considering the land involved in this particular case is bordered by many existing residential dwellings, I'm sure this will be of interest to the owners of:
  • Lime Tree House, Main Street
  • Hawthorn House, Main Street
  • Friars Crag, Main Street
  • Pegasus, Main Street
  • No's 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17 and 19 Ten Row, Wellhead Lane
  • No's 21,23 and 25 Wellhead Lane
  • Embsay House, Main Street
  • Embsay Cottage, Main Street
  • Embsay Holt, Main Street
  • No's 2 and 3, Main Street
  • No 1 Old Ten Row, Main Street
  • Post Office, Main Street

If permission is granted for a single dwelling, one can probably assume this will lead to a further application for a number of other dwellings being built on this land, increasing the quota for Nocton yet again.


An interesting precedence has recently been set with permitting an outline application for a single dwelling behind 'The Shieling, The Green, Nocton', where we saw North Kesteven District Council take a rather liberal interpretation of the national planning policy framework, when a more robust approach might have been more appropriate.

This was especially so, given the details in the new draft Central Lincolnshire Local Plan and the draft Nocton & Potterhanworth Neighbourhood Plans, which I feel should have been given more substantive weight of consideration.

If one considers the table 'Growth Levels in Villages' on  p138 of the draft Local Plan, you will see what I mean:
  • Settlement Name: Nocton
  • Hierarchy Position: Medium Villages
  • Base number of dwellings: 320
  • Growth Level: 10%
  • Number of dwellings for growth: 32
  • Completions April 2012 - March 2015: 0
  • Dwellings from permissions to be built: 39
  • Percentage of growth level reached: 122%
  • Remaining growth: 0
N.B: It is very important to note the figure for 'Dwellings from permissions to be built'. There have now been more than 39 planning permissions granted by North Kesteven District Council for Nocton. For example, there are four dwellings now under construction on Wellhead Lane, with at least one extra dwelling at Plot 71 on the Sowerby development on Nocton Park, so clearly the 122% percentile figure is much understated in current reality and the village is well over its quota at 137.5%. Nor does this figure include the outline application permitted at The Shieling, nor the extra application under consideration for Plot 72A by Sowerby Homes!

It is extremely frustrating to see North Kesteven District Council invest scarce public monies to formulate extensively detailed policies/objectives to guide development within the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan... yet go on to be very relaxed in the interpretation of such.

I am now beginning to wonder whether there is a risk-averse culture endemic within North Kesteven District Council, where they choose to avoid any planning decision that would result in having to defend an opinion on appeal. If one considers the debacle of Nocton Hall over the years, it now seems to be manifesting itself in not controlling the excessive development of Nocton village.

This village has clearly borne its share of development and will continue to do so with some of the permissions that are still to reach fruition, but the draft Local Plan is very clear on this matter under Para 3.4 'Growth in Villages', that development has to be balanced with growth in the supporting infrastructure too.

It is high time for a line to be drawn in the sand, especially as there is no further demand for property in Nocton, with existing properties remaining unaffordable and unsold. Enough is enough!

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