Last week the appeal inspector allowed the planning application to build nine houses on the site of the farmyard and stables at Hayes Street Farm. The application had been refused by the council last year after a campaign by local residents backed by the Hayes Village Association and your local councillors, but following a public inquiry – held at our suggestion – the inspector allowed the plans, noting that the site has been previously developed and that it he felt it was not detrimental to either the conservation areas or the openness of the Green Belt.
We know that many (though certainly not all) residents will be disappointed in the outcome, but there is little scope for the council to appeal this decision. The only available route would be a judicial review which can only be brought if the inspector has erred in law or the process was materially flawed. From our discussion so far with council officers, there appear to be no such grounds.
During the hearing the applicants had, wrongly, suggested that the Council had misled the inspector over Housing Land Supply – a point which the inspector later ruled was irrelevant. However, he still ultimately found in their favour.
We will now be watching closely should the applicants attempt to modify their plans, as well as being vigilant for any further deterioration of the remaining open farmland.
The plans to develop the farmyard at Hayes Street Farm have been turned down by the Council.
The refusal, made as a ‘delegated decision’ by planning officers, follows a flood of objections by local residents and us as your local councillors. In accordance with our request, the early refusal means the plans won’t need to go before a planning committee as they would have if officers had recommended approval.
The grounds for refusal are fairly comprehensive and include inappropriate development in, and loss of openness of, the Green Belt, loss of employment and commercial use, harm to the Hayes Village conservation area and setting of the Listed building.
It now remains to be seen whether Rookery Estates will appeal the decision, submit amended plans, or both. They have up to six months to lodge an appeal with Planning Inspectorate, but for now many residents will breathe a sigh of relief.
Following the submission of the plans for redeveloping the farmyard at Hayes Street Farm, your local councillors have been in pressing owners Rookery Estates for clarity on the future of the rest of the land.
The open farmland is not part of the development plans, and as ‘virgin’ green belt is heavily protected against future development regardless of whether the farmyard plans are approved or not. Understandably though, many residents are still worried about what may happen once the farm is no longer operating in its current form.
Rookery tell us that they “envisage having horses on the farm for the foreseeable future although these will be live out horses. No new livery buildings are anticipated. The fishing lake has been let for 10 years so [we] expect this to continue into the future”.
On the future of the boot fairs, George Hoeltschi “has been given permission to hold boot fairs for the next 2 seasons only but Rookery would probably need to curtail this after this year if planning permission is approved for the development”.
Questions remain though about how the future of the rest of the farm can be further secured. Local opinion is split on the boot fairs, but will the land still be viable with just the trout fishery and only live-out provision for horses, for example?
As regards the development proposals themselves, the application for the farmyard plans is open for comment until 24th January. As your local councillors we will be formulating our own detailed response to the plans soon and have already asked that the application is put before a committee for a public hearing, should the recommendation from planning officers be for approval.