Victory again for housing developer as Planning Inspectorate overturns council refusal

Hod Hall Lane, Haddenham

Hod Hall Lane, Haddenham - Credit: Archant

The Planning Inspectorate has ruled against East Cambridgeshire District Council in a battle over plans to build four bungalows in Haddenham.

Delivering his verdict this week, planning inspector Chris Preston approved plans submitted by M Ruszkiewicz to erect four houses in Hod Hall Lane – over-turning a decision to refuse issued by the district council in December.

In his ruling, Mr Preston said: “As part of his findings the inspector concluded that the council could not demonstrate a robust five-year housing supply, identifying a shortfall of 320 dwellings.

“As a result, he concluded that it would be difficult to find the local plan sound.

“When assessed on its own merits the proposal of four dwellings would represent a sustainable form of development.

“It would add to the supply of local housing and have recognisable, albeit small, economic and social benefits, without any readily identifiable environmental harm.”

The inspector decline to force the council to pay Mr Ruszkiewicz’s costs, however.

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The hearing was held on August 27 at the E-Space North business centre, in Wisbech Road, Littleport.

The former builder’s yard, in Hod Hall Lane, has been at the centre of a row between residents of the village and developers since 2008, when a planning application to turn the land into traveller pitches was turned down for the first time.

The owner of the yard, Mr Ruszkiewicz, saw subsequent plans to turn the land into traveller pitches turned down on a further two occasions before he finally won permission to build three traveller pitches on appeal to the Planning Inspectorate back in March, last year.

Just months after winning his battle, Mr Ruskiewicz had a change of heart and applied instead for permission to build four open-market houses on the land.

In his plans, Mr Ruszkiewicz acknowledged that the traveller pitches had been unpopular with neighbours and said that the half-acre site would be home to four ‘cottage style’ homes complete with parking spaces instead.

At a meeting of East Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee back in December, however, councillors opted to refuse the homes plans and Mr Ruskiewicz appealed for a second time.