A large urban extension to the town of Maldon in Essex has been refused against officer advice over flood concerns.

The ‘garden suburb’ proposal submitted by developer Countryside Properties would have seen the creation of 1,138 new homes to the north of Heybridge. However, members of the Maldon District Council North West Area planning committee voted to refuse the application, going against the Planning Officer’s recommendation of approval.

The hybrid planning application sought full permission for a new road, plus outline permission for the new housing, a local centre, residential care home, a new primary school, childcare facilities and playing fields. The proposed development would have covered 76 hectares of greenfield land.

30% of the new homes proposed were to be made affordable, in line with Maldon Council’s policy requirements for larger residential schemes.

Within the Officer’s Report for the application, it said “Delivery of the site will assist the Council in achieving its five year housing land supply requirements”.

The site is one of three strategic locations contained within the Council’s local plan for the creation of a garden suburb in the area, guided by a strategic masterplan framework.

Despite the apparent policy compliance, Councillors voted to refuse the application due to concerns with flooding issues. Citing the Council’s formal reason for refusal, it said “Insufficient evidence has been submitted with the application to demonstrate that the proposed development would be able to incorporate adequate surface water drainage infrastructure and that the infrastructure that would be proposed would be maintained in a manner that would ensure that the development would not cause increased flooding risk within the vicinity of the site and the catchment areas of the watercourses that are within the site”.

Maldon Council released a statement which said that the potential impact on flood risk from the development was unacceptable and contrary to both local and national planning policies.

Meanwhile the developer, Countryside Properties said it would be appealing the decision. In a statement, they said “We are very disappointed by the decision to refuse the planning application for North Heybridge Garden Suburb. This goes against the local plan and the professional advice of the local council’s planning officers who recommended the application for approval”.

The application will now go through the planning appeals process with the Planning Inspectorate having the final say on the proposed scheme.

26 March 2019