New homes are approved in spite of local concerns

By Carmelo Garcia   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Sunday 26th June 2022 6:00 am
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Marian’s Walk
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PLANS to build 17 affordable homes in Berry Hill have been given the go-ahead despite concerns may will sink into the ground.

Two Rivers Housing’s plans to develop 1.3 acres of land between Marian’s Walk and Grove Road in Berry Hill were approved this week by the Forest Council’s planning committee.

The new estate is designed to have a mix of one to three bedroom homes, six maisonettes and a couple of two-bed bungalows.

However, some 31 people objected to the plans and residents raised concerns over subsidence.

Sue Salmon, who spoke on behalf of objectors at the planning committee on June 14, said the proposals were environmentally and ecologically damaging.

She also said there were serious concerns about land subsidence due to old mines in the area and that sinkholes had been witnessed.

“Locals are worried about the stability of their properties,” she said.

She also said the site is less than 80 metres from the Wye Valley area of outstanding natural beauty and it went against the neighbourhood development plan.

Residents are also concerned about the loss of open space and say the new homes are out of character, they will add pressure to overburdened services and add to traffic problems.

Terri Hibberd, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said there was a need for affordable housing in the area.

She said they have consulted with local residents and the parish council.

“We have already been receiving enquiries for the homes nearby. This is a 100 per cent affordable site and would be able to access grant funding from Homes England.

“The site was identified in the neighbourhood development plan and a detailed ground investigation report has been carried out along with reports from the Coal Authority to confirm that no issues have been raised in terms of suitability for this site.”

Council officers recommended approving the scheme which they considered constitutes sustainable development.

However, several councillors echoed the concerns over ground subsistence.

Cllr David Wheeler (Green, Newland and Sling) asked if there was any way people could be made aware of the potential risk of homes subsiding.

He said: “There has been subsidence in the houses along Marians Walk.

“On three sides, this site is surrounded by mines, the paraphernalia of mines or houses that are falling into the ground.

“It seems rational for me to suggest that this site is equally undermined.

“I understand there are things that can be done to ameliorate the problem.

“But I do believe some sort of note should be attached to the planning permission so that everyone is aware that this site is surrounded by land that is undermined.

“I just want the applicant and anyone who might wish to live in these houses that there is something underneath them.”

Cllr Maria Edwards (Ind, Tidenham) said the council needed to follow the advice of consultees who did not find a problem with the site.

She said: “We need affordable housing.

“This is a rural exception site with a good mix of housing.”

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