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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Keekle homes plans thrown out

PLANS for a major new housing complex just outside Whitehaven have been thrown out.

Councillors unanimously voted last week that land at Mill Hill Farm, Keekle, is unsuitable for a planned development of nine executive homes.

The plans attracted nine individual letters of objection and a 224-signature petition.

Local firm Jackson Timber Ltd was behind the proposals and wanted to build a mix of three, four and five-bedroom homes. Jacksons has already converted previously unused buildings on the same site into highly-acclaimed residential and holiday units.

Speaking at a meeting of Copeland’s planning panel at which the plans were turned down, Egremont councillor Mike McVeigh said: “The applicants are well known for their high quality developments, and I hope they can find sites that are acceptable. But this is not one of them.”

The objectors raised concerns that the existing road network is poor and cannot accommodate the additional traffic, and that the existing junction to the site, on the busy Keekle to Moor Row minor road, is dangerous and will cause a safety hazard if houses were built.

There are also concerns about the demand for such housing in the area. Weddicar Parish Council also launched an objection, having gathered views from the neighbouring areas of Keekle, Galemire, Padstow and Goosebutts.

The applicants, Jacksons, said however that the “proposal will help to address the very high demand for letting accommodation for the business market, especially executive accommodation, which is not being provided elsewhere”.

The firm added that the development would be consistent with the government’s policy in respect of meeting housing need.

One of the objectors, John Ronaldson, of Galemire, told the meeting: “I compliment Mr Mossop (of Jacksons) for rejuvenating the buildings that are already there, but in that situation no new buildings were added. This time there would be new houses going up and it would create a mini-housing estate; the number of buildings, and their height, is unacceptable.

“There have been a number of accidents on that road already; it’s inadequate for the volume of traffic that uses it and this development would further threaten safety.”

Mr Ronaldson added that, in his view, there is no local demand for new houses of this type.

“There are already houses with four or five bedrooms that are up for sale and nobody is buying them. This proves there is not the demand,” he said.

“It’s a greenfield site and should stay a greenfield site.”

Nobody spoke at the meeting on behalf of the applicants.

Earlier this year, plans for 15 self-catering holiday units on the site were submitted but later withdrawn by the developer before a planning decision had been taken.

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