19 April 2024

Plans for coastal homes refused

Plans to build homes near the coast in Withernsea have been turned down by East Riding Council.

In February 2022, an application for two dwellings at the bottom of Turner Avenue was launched on the East Riding Planning Access website. The full details of the dwellings remain unknown, but the available plans showed that construction would also include site access along Turner Avenue.

During the consultation period a group of residents came together to oppose the plans lodged by the Hare family, citing environmental concerns and traffic problems and saying the development was unnecessary as 199 homes had recently been given the go-ahead along Hollym Road.

The residents argued that the proposed development would sit on green space behind homes in Oak Avenue, Turner Avenue and Louville Avenue. The land was previously classed as vulnerable to coastal erosion, but rock armour was placed around it in 2021.

The rock armour is expected to last 100 years, but despite this the residents group claimed it was not fully protective of the land.

They said: “We are genuinely concerned that, despite the unpredictable nature of land erosion and the potential unknown impact of global warming, lessons have not been learnt and any claim that such exposed properties will be protected for 100 years is simply preposterous.

“On the clifftop the planted vegetation is already dying due to the hostile environment which is far worse in winter months compared to August when the committee visited the site.

“A very experienced professional financial adviser who specialises in mortgages has informed our residents group that any building on this land would struggle to meet the criteria required to arrange a mortgage considering that future residential homes will build so perilously close to the partially protected clifftop.”

The group also cited potential traffic problems during construction, as there would be abnormally wide loads travelling through Turner Avenue, which is a narrow single track.

The main concern for the group remains that approval of the application may have led to more homes being built in the nearby area.

A spokesman for the group said: “Approval of the proposed development would set a precedent for future applications on the same site once access is in place. Proposals for 10-plus houses have been submitted before this application by the Hare family and then withdrawn.”

The residents group petitioned all 32 homes surrounding the site, 28 of which signed the petition saying they were against the development, with the remaining four being classed as unable to be contacted at the time.

The petition was launched as the group felt that the methods used to oppose the application excluded specific groups.

In a letter addressed to the planning committee, they said: “Our ongoing action is to focus the objections of our community and support many local elderly retired residents who genuinely feel very excluded from the complex East Riding Council planning approval processes because it is very IT-orientated.

“Facilities such as websites, emails and online portals are simply daunting or inaccessible to many of our members and our own resident consultation process has therefore been very time-consuming and stressful for all our concerned members.”

On Tuesday, September 5, the planning application went before the East Riding Council planning committee.

Speaking at the planning meeting, Carl Chapman of Frank Hill and Son said: “The area developed eastwards up to the cliff edge has now, however, been subsequently amended, the eastern limit being moved by approximately 18.5m and 23.5m further westwards away from the cliff edge.

“It is considered that the revised information coupled with the improvements to defences demonstrate that the development would be safe from risk of coastal erosion for its lifetime – over 100 years – as confirmed by the council’s coastal engineer.

“Based on this, the council’s coastal engineer and sustainable development section raised no objection to the principle of development on this site in terms of its risk from coastal erosion, and the objection on these grounds from the Environment Agency has also been withdrawn.

“Officers stated throughout their report that the development would be safe in terms of risk from coastal erosion which is backed by the advice given from the coastal erosion experts.

“If it is decided to refuse the application on the grounds of coastal erosion, then this would be contrary to the expert advice and somewhat problematic as a reason for refusal.

“Objections have been raised by members of the public which have been addressed in the officer’s report.”

At the meeting the application was refused on the grounds that it was not appropriate to meet the criteria for development within a countryside area which is strictly controlled.

Speaking after the meeting, the residents group members said: “The members of our local resident group opposed to this housing development are all delighted that the recent planning application to build houses on the clifftop scrub land adjacent to Turner Avenue, Oak Avenue and Louville Avenue was once again rejected by the East Riding Council planning committee.

“The whole prolonged saga has been very stressful, especially for many of our elderly members who have moved to their seaside homes for peace and quiet during their retirement.

“Our recent efforts to raise and focus our objections with East Riding Council have very much united our community further and our group is now much stronger because of our recent planning objection efforts.

“The local town council has been very helpful with impartial advice and guidance on how best to address our concerns in a complex online process whereby many of our members felt excluded by the council planning due to its complex information technology-orientated process of online portals and websites.

“We have therefore assisted many of our members in engaging with the council planning committee to directly raise their wide variety of legitimate and appropriate concerns.

“We now plan to raise our concerns with our local MP Graham Stuart about the exclusory nature of the planning application process in the hope that lessons on engaging the public who face planning applications that have a potential to significantly affect their welfare and livelihoods are more appropriately addressed.

“We are aware that, like before, there is a possibility of yet more planning applications and we remain vigilant and determined.”