Plans that could bring 70 new homes to Kirkby Stephen are approved

Date: Friday 21st July 2017
The entrance to the proposed development showing the first phase of the White House Farm scheme.
The entrance to the proposed development showing the first phase of the White House Farm scheme.

UP to 70 new homes could be built in Kirkby Stephen after outline planning permission was granted for two separate residential developments within the town.

The decisions were taken on Thursday when Eden Council’s planning committee gave both schemes its unanimous backing, subject to a range of conditions.

Councillors heard that the first application was for land at White House Farm. The scheme could include between 30 and 35 properties.

Ian Irwin, the application’s case officer, said there was established access to the site and, because it was for outline planning permission, there was no specific detail about the development which would be agreed later if it was given approval.

It had been recommended for approval subject to an agreement which included a financial contribution from the developer, White House Farm Developments, relating to education. Mr. Irwin said the site was currently an agricultural field and objectors to the scheme had raised some concerns over its potential impact on the town. He added: “This provides much-needed housing in the district.”

He said the application was for the second phase of the development and the initial phase, which had already established the access, would help screen the buildings of the later stage.

Irene Downing, who is a resident, spoke against the application, saying: “This would cause irreparable and irreversible harm to Kirkby Stephen and its environment. It’s the last greenfield site in Kirkby Stephen.” She added that the site offered a “safe path” and people “love the openness of the site when they cross it”.

Mrs. Downing said there was potential for flooding and the land had been included in a tide map, dated 1839. An 1899 Ordnance Survey map showed a pump had been placed behind the farm building.

She said the scheme would place a strain on the town’s amenities, which were limited, and added: “What is proposed is unnatural growth.”

Tom Woof, the agent for the developer, said the second phase would be delayed until the first had been completed and the proposed development did not “breach the skyline” because it was shielded by the earlier buildings. He said he did not accept that the site was the “last greenfield site” in Kirkby Stephen and added there were a “significant amount of green fields” in the town.

Mr. Woof said: “In general terms the site is supported by the town council — yes, they did think about it, long and hard, but they did support it.”

He said any concerns could be addressed through reserved matters, where the precise details of the development were agreed between the developer and the council. “This is not a question of land banking, this is delivering housing,” he said.

Ian Chambers (Con, Eamont) asked what time scale the developer had in mind for the project and Mr. Woof said it was “crystal ball gazing” but it was hoped it would be completed within two years. However, that would depend on the progress of the first phase.

William Patterson (Ind, Warcop) proposed that the committee went with the officer’s recommendation for approval and added: “I am pleased to see the parish council have come out in support.”

The second application, submitted by the Dargue family, was for outline planning permission for land off Christian Head, and councillors heard it could include up to 35 residential dwellings.

Mr. Irwin, who was again the case officer, said there were no objections to the development but it was being considered because it was a “significant” planning application.

Mr. Patterson said he hoped an agreement could be reached relating to a contribution relating to education, because extra strain could be placed on local schools due to an increase in the area’s population.

The application had been recommended for approval, subject to a number of conditions.