14th Nov, 2019

Ex-Meriden MP's daughter appeals green belt refusal - to be 'near family and horses'

John Carlon 8th Nov, 2019 Updated: 8th Nov, 2019

THE DAUGHTER of former Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman is appealing the decision by Solihull Council to block her plans to build a four-bedroom house in Dorridge green belt.

She insists she wants to build a house to be near her family and horses.

Elizabeth Spelman has turned to the national Planning Inspectorate in a bid to overturn the refusal of an application to build the detached house on Windmill Lane.

Solihull Council rejected the application twice this year, considering the building to be an ‘inappropriate development’ on the green belt.

Miss Spelman’s resubmissions to Solihull Council maintained ‘very special circumstances’ would override green belt protection policies.

The house would be built on the site of a demolished barn, part of the former Packwood Nurseries, on open farmland near Windmill Lane, Dorridge.

An appeal to the Inspectorate, which has the power to overturn local authorities’ decisions, was made on October 23, we have learned.

The land for the new house is close to the Spelman family’s long-time constituency mansion for which former environment secretary Dame Caroline had claimed expenses from the taxpayer.

In its appeal, Miss Spelman’s planning agent Jayne Cashmore pressed the authority to allow the house to be built, based on Elizabeth Spelman’s connections to Dorridge.

Cashmore stated: “[Miss Spelman] has lived in the locality her entire life, moving into the neighbouring house in 1997. Having recently got engaged she now wishes to have some independence and live in her own home.

“It is important to the appellant that she remains in the locality to have proximity to her parents’ house so she continue to support them, and proximity to her horses at her parents’ house that need looking after on a daily basis.

“The dwelling would therefore be a self-build for the appellant… it would create a high quality, attractive design for a new dwelling which would be a contemporary interpretation of the former barn on site.

“The locality is characterised by a number of dwellings nearby, including some which are visible from the same public right as it runs to the north of Windmill Lane.

“It is accepted that the current vista would change, but change does not necessarily equate to harm. Indeed, it is considered that there would be a positive impact on the character and appearance of the locality from the development.”

“Miss Spelman has grown up in the local area and wishes to continue to live locally, but independently from her family now she is engaged to be married. She frequently walks to Dorridge and its facilities.

“House prices are high in the area and the opportunity of building a house on land which the appellant owns, will enable the appellant to live within the area and enable a young person to remain in the locality where she grew up. This is an example of enhancing and maintaining the vitality of the rural community.

“There is nothing positive which comes of the existing condition of the site. It is not considered attractive and nor something which someone would expect or want to find in a rural location. The proposed development would create a high quality, attractive design for a new dwelling which would be a contemporary interpretation of the former barn on site.

Ms Cashmore also posited the development could possibly reduce anti-social behaviour, she stated: “The site is in a dilapidated state and attracts anti-social behaviour due to its proximity to Dorridge park.

“There is a difference in opinion between the Council and appellant about the level of harm to the openness of the Green Belt… the appellant maintains that there is no other harm arising from the development, in addition to the definitional harm to the Green Belt and limited harm to the openness of the Green Belt.

Cashmore went on to state planning permission for the house would help retain young local people in the area, create jobs in building the house and help the local economy with ‘future spend from the former barn’.

Interested parties have until November 27 to send submissions to the Planning Inspectorste.

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