Secretary of state to consider overturning Finchingfield houses approval

letter from Councillors Gabrielle Spray/Graham Butland

Conservative councillor Gabrielle Spray, who sits on BDC’s planning committee, recently wrote a letter to James Cleverly MP, together with Cllr Butland - Credit: Councillors Gabrielle Spray/Graham Butland

A decision to overturn the refusal of 50 houses in Finchingfield is currently being considered by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick.

It follows a campaign by residents, district councillors and MP James Cleverly. 

The application for 50 houses on land west of B1057 Bardfield Road was submitted to Braintree District Council on January 14 2019, and refused in November the same year. 

An appeal was made against the decision  and a government planning inspector overturned the council’s decision. 

Conservative councillor Graham Butland, leader of Braintree District Council, said: “Normally we respect their decisions, but we were so concerned this time.” 

Conservative councillor Gabrielle Spray, who sits on BDC’s planning committee, recently wrote a letter to James Cleverly MP, together with Cllr Butland. She also wrote an email to Mr Jenrick. 

She said Mr Cleverly agreed to speak to Robert Jenrick, who is Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and can overturn the decision. 

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Cllr Spray said: “This application has upset a lot of Finchingfield residents. There is a big campaign locally to ask the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP to look into the decision. 

“The application was refused on very good grounds. It’s 50 homes in a field on the edge of one of the prettiest villages in Essex. 

“The planning committee supported the opinion that, if this development were to go ahead, it would pose real harm to the landscape and to the character of the village. The development wasn’t going to come with any infrastructure, there was nothing else with the application regarding the surgeon or any retail.” 

She added: “I told Robert Jenrick why I thought it was a poor decision by the inspector, asking him to look into it. I told him what a lovely village Finchingfield is.  

“It doesn’t mean he will automatically overturn it, but he can ask the planning inspectors to consider it again.  

“We are not against development, we need houses, but they need to be in the right place and in my view.” 

Braintree MP James Cleverly said: “I know how much concern there is about these houses, both in the village and at Braintree District Council.

"As an MP I have no formal role in the planning process, but I have communicated the local strength of feeling to the government department.” 

A document submitted on behalf of applicant Huntstowe Land Ltd states that the design was inspired by historical as well as modern standards, and aimed for good design as per the National Planning Framework. 

Peter Rose, an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State, said in his appeal decision that there would be no harm to the Conservation Area, its character or appearance or any other heritage assets.  

Robert Jenrick has been contacted for comment.