Alex and local residents hail people power as Stockton’s Planning Committee rule against Thorpe Thewles developer

A developer who rode roughshod over local residents chopping down trees – some of them on disputed land – has had his wings clipped following action by local residents backed by MP Alex Cunningham. 

And the Stockton North MP working with residents of Wynyard Court, Thorpe Thewles – including Nick Waites, Victoria Bell, Tim Fairs, and Gary Forster – welcomed a decision by Stockton Council’s Planning Committee to reject an attempt by developers, Homes by Carlton, to extend their Thorpe Beck Farm site.

The developers of Thorpe Beck Farm wanted to amend the plans previously approved by Stockton Council with a further reduction of the green buffer zone included in the initial plans that was supposed to provide privacy to existing and future residents.

The ownership of some of the land and the boundary of the development is already in dispute and residents were outraged in 2020 to find some of the trees and bushes that had been in existence for a lot of years were being removed without approval and during the bird nesting season with the developers initially refusing to stop.

The Council’s Planning Committee recently refused the developers permission to remove any further trees or bushes.

But while they celebrate the good news, Alex and the residents are not resting on their laurels, with Alex offering to write to the developer to discuss the lack of communication between them and neighbouring residents and to speak to the Council about the replacement of trees removed without permission. Mature trees are now to be replaced with saplings which will apparently take 12 years to provide any privacy, but Alex and the residents are asking for a more “like for like” replacement.

Speaking on behalf of the residents, Nick said:

“We would like to thank Alex for the help that he has given us and a big thank you must also go to all of the members of the Council’s Planning Committee who decided enough was enough and it was time for developers to stop doing whatever they want and follow the plans that have been approved.

“We hope that the Council will take on board the comments of Councillors Steve and Sylvia Walmsley and make the developers responsible for putting the green belt back to how it should have always remained.”

Alex said:

“There have been ongoing issues at Thorpe Beck Farm and my office has already had to intervene to have work on the unapproved removal of trees stopped, so I was delighted to hear that the Planning Committee ruled in favour of the local community and against the developer in this case.

“Repeatedly we see developers try to get round planning restrictions and apply for permission to do something after the event and I hope this decision is seen as a signal that developers can’t simply get away with riding roughshod over local people and their concerns.

“It’s clear that there are still some issues that need to be resolved and I will be working with Nick and his neighbours to see if we can get the developers round the table and work with, not against, the local community on matters such as land boundaries and the proper replacement of the buffer zone.”