The Planning Inquiry into an appeal from Tiviot Investments Ltd in respect of Stockton Borough Council’s rejection of an application for 550 houses to be built to the south east of Ingleby Barwick closed on Thursday after a three day hearing.
I was pleased to attend throughout the hearing alongside other local residents and a number of representatives of both the Town Council and Borough Council for Ingleby Barwick.
Much of the enquiry turned on legal technicalities about the status of the fields which Tiviot wish to build upon, with other arguments being put forward that Ingleby Barwick is now “full” and further development would be unsustainable. Barristers for both sides put forward witnesses who were then cross-examined. Councillor David Rose, Cabinet Member for the Environment and a member of the planning committee appeared at length for the Council and was excellent, supporting our local community.
Residents were given an opportunity to speak and ask questions at various points.
Graham Walker talked about the lack of green space within Ingleby Barwick since houses had been constructed throughout the estate on almost every piece of land and how consequently these fields were of particular value. He also talked about ongoing problems with congestion across, into and out of the whole of Ingleby Barwick.
Peter Hadfield talked about the concept of Localism and stressed the importance of allowing local people and their democratically elected representatives to have their own say over local matters. Peter drew the inquiry’s attention to the fact that the rejection of these plans had been unanimously supported by councillors “of all parties and none” at the Planning Committee and that the Tory MP and his would-be Labour successor were both also opposed. He said it was refreshing to see such unity and urged the Inspector to take this into account if thinking to overrule local opinion.
I asked questions on the first day about a proposed new service direct to Stockton which would be subsidised by Tiviot for three years if the housing went ahead. I pointed out that a former X6 on the same route had been ditched and then a 17 also heading into Stockton, once their subsidies had been withdrawn and wondered what guarantees there were about this one.
On the second day I spoke for about ten minutes covering the history of Ingleby Barwick and how it was now almost complete with the development of The Rings and how the council in conjunction with the town council had already funded circular walk ways around Ingleby clearly showing where the edges of the new town should be. I talked about the current lack of facilities in Ingleby and how house building here would exacerbate those problems. I drew the Inspectors attention to the need to consider the effects of housing on the settlements of High Leven, Little Maltby and Maltby. I also criticised what I described as “disingenuous” arguments from Tiviot.
A final resident, Neil McCabe, also talked about the impact of extra traffic on Leven Bank.
On the third day I spoke again to let the Inspector know that I had learned at the previous evening’s town council meeting that the township is bordered by the beck and therefore residents of these houses if they went ahead would not be part of Ingleby, would not be paying the precept, would not play a full part in the community and of course that they had never been meant to be built there.
It was a tough three days, local residents had to listen to what seemed to us at times to be spurious arguments. We hope the Inspector will be able to see through the smoke and mirrors and accept these fields are precious to us and should not be built upon. The impact of development here would cause untold problems for existing residents in so many ways and we were pleased to be able to describe that to the Inspector.
It is disappointing that despite his media bluster and regular mention of this application in his campaign leaflets, our MP has not submitted any objection at any stage and did not turn up to the inquiry.