Plan to turn proposed holiday homes into over-50s retirement village unanimously rejected

Application for retirement village, Broughton Astley
-Credit: (Image: Google)

A retirement village for people aged 50 and over proposed in place of planned holiday homes in Broughton Astley has been unanimously refused by Harborough District Council's planning committee. Planning officers had recommended refusal of the application, submitted by Davico Properties UK Ltd.

Planning officers said the proposal would create permanently occupied properties in the countryside which did not have convenient access to key services and facilities. They added that the development would potentially result in the loss of tourist accommodation and employment for the district, and, due to its size and location, would cause harm to the character and appearance of the area.

The officers also said the plan failed to demonstrate that it would not have an adverse impact on protected species and habitats, and did not include plans to "mitigate the impact of the proposal".

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The site has a long history of planning applications. In 2009, approval was given for holiday lodges, a lake, a shop, office and other buildings to support a golf club which is under construction to the south west and south east of the site. In 2011, approval was given for 42 lodges and eight motorhome pitches. In 2013, 35 houses and a golf clubhouse were refused planning permission.

In 2014, a further application for holiday lodges, lake, a shop and office and additional buildings next to the golf club was approved. And in 2021, another application for holiday lodges, creation of a lake and building of a shop/office and other buildings relating to the golf club was approved.

However, two further applications requesting to remove the word "holiday" from the description of the lodges, and amend the description of the application, were refused in 2021. In 2023, an application was submitted for "a retirement village restricted to people aged 50 or over" which was turned down in September.

Before the decision was made, Councillor Clive Grafton-Reed, ward member for Broughton Astley, said that if the application was granted, it would drive a "coach and horses through the entire neighbourhood plan process", and send a message across the district to all the parishes "that neighbourhood plans are really not worth the effort". Neighbourhood plans set out where in a district development can take place in the future.

"The neighbourhood plan for Broughton Astley looks to try and protect the hamlet and quiet nature of Sutton in the Elms, which is the desire of all the residents who are currently there," said Coun Grafton-Reed. "It [the application] has no redeeming features in that respect, because it doesn’t add to any of the benefit for that area. In fact it would do great detriment."

He told the panel that the application presented "a complete degradation of all our democratic principles" and that there had "long been an intent to try and change this use to try and push this to make it become residential and I urge you to look back at that and see these multiple attempts and this is just another one". He added: "The residents are weary of this constant battle to protect their hamlet, and it is a hamlet."