Cambridgeshire

Green belt homes approved because 'wrong box was ticked'

Harlton Road, Haslingfield Image copyright Google
Image caption The plans were submitted for an area near Harlton Road in Haslingfield

Planning permission was accidentally given for new homes on green belt land when the wrong box was ticked on a council's computer system.

An application for seven homes in Haslingfield, Cambridgeshire, was refused but "human error" led to it being "incorrectly approved".

"We completely hold our hands up", South Cambridgeshire council said.

Officers have had to "file legal papers with the High Court" and expect the decision be rescinded within weeks.

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The plans for homes near Grove Farm were one of about 2,500 applications processed by the district council each year, Robert Turner, cabinet member for planning, said.

"The error took place after the decision to refuse the application was incorrectly entered as an approval into a computer system."

That error automatically generated a letter to the applicant.

The applicant, Neil Poole, said he and his planning agent were "confused" after receiving two conflicting letters, both dated the same day.

There had been a house on the land, which his wife's family owns, until 1968, there were new barns and homes built nearby and "the parish council was 100% behind the application", he said.

Three of the seven proposed homes were to be affordable housing for village residents.

Mr Poole said the family was unable to appeal the decision until it had been formally quashed by the court.

The council said additional checks had been put in place and "the process changed" to ensure a similar "administrative error" could not happen again.

It was "confident the legal process... will be quickly resolved especially as the homes are in the green belt".

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