STONE BUNGALOWS: Dozens of objections for plans on green space
More than 75 people have objected to plans to build two bungalows on green space in a Stone neighbourhood.
Walton residents joined forces earlier this year to bid for the land at Heath Gardens when it was put up for sale by the previous owner. But they were outbid in the auction and the land, which had a guide price of £10,000, was sold for £18,500.
Now planning permission in principle is being sought from Stafford Borough Council to build two bungalows and create an “enhanced area of community amenity space”.
A planning statement submitted on behalf of the applicant stated: “In recognition of the fact that the site currently comprises incidental open space the applicant is content not to apply for permission in principle across the entirety of their land ownership, and is prepared to retain around a third of the site as open amenity space for the community with associated landscaping.
“The applicant is willing to enter into a unilateral undertaking to provide the land as community open space that perhaps includes some seating and some meadow seed mix planting. This would create a visually enhanced useable area of open space rather than a purely incidental one.
“The land subject to this application forms a small part of a wider area of green space. The application site does not have any particular visual character or quality or ecological value and is incidental open space as part of the original layout of the surrounding housing estate.”
But Stone residents have said the land has provided a safe place for families to exercise and get a breath of fresh air during national lockdowns in the past year and remains an important part of the town’s green infrastructure.
By Monday (May 17) Stafford Borough Council had received 76 objections to the application.
A Heath Gardens resident said: “I am appalled and saddened to see the thousands of houses built in and around Stone over the last 5-10 years and the complete disregard for green spaces. One of the main reasons I and many others in Heath Gardens and surrounding areas purchased property had a lot to do with the openness and green spaces and tree lined areas surrounding it, making it a more welcoming and beneficial place to live.
“The green is used daily by dog walkers, by children playing safely in full view of their home. It has been used for exercise purposes during lockdowns (and) for playing games – especially now that Tilling Drive playing field green space is being destroyed by more building consent being approved despite hundreds of objections.
“It has been used for communal purposes over the years for street parties and celebrations. During lockdowns it has been invaluable for the many elderly residents to walk from and to for exercise.
“We all need green open spaces for health and mental wellbeing. To allow the area to be destroyed by adding yet more concrete will only serve to make the issue even worse, as the elderly and some with mobility issues will be unable to walk further to anywhere else and those suffering from stress will have nowhere to go on the doorstep like they once had before to improve their wellbeing.
“I therefore find the destruction of the Green most disturbing and morally wrong.”
A Lichfield Road resident said: “We are told on a daily basis that green open spaces are essential to our mental health and wellbeing.
“I have lived in Stone for over 50 years and watched it grow from a small friendly market town into a sprawling commuter town. Where I have no objection to progress I think the town has now reached saturation point.
“I walk around Stone on a daily basis and see many properties up for sale so would question the necessity for more. Isn’t about time we started thinking about people not profit?”
Stone Town Council has also voiced strong objections to the plans. The land at Heath Gardens was included as local green infrastructure in the town’s Neighbourhood Plan, which received backing from residents in a referendum earlier this month and will now be formally adopted as a legal document.
Councillor Tom Kelt, Chairman of the Council’s Planning Consultative Committee, said: “The residents of Stone have made it very clear through their overwhelming support for the Neighbourhood Plan that they want to see the town’s green spaces protected.
“I can give my assurance that the town council will fight to uphold this. I now call on Stafford Borough, who will make the planning decision, to support the people of Stone and reject this application.”
Words: Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter
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