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Controversial Staffordshire golf club plans to go ahead

Staffordshire | Entertainment | Published:

Controversial plans to expand Stafford Castle Golf Club from nine holes to 18 will go ahead again after an expired time limit to carry out the work was deemed 'unreasonable'.

The project is to double the course size at Newport Road, and also introduce a driving range as well as relocate the clubhouse.

But it was cast into doubt in 2012 when developers failed to bring in all of the necessary materials within 120 weeks of the start of the works, breaching an condition set by borough planning chiefs.

It raised the possibility the scheme could be abandoned altogether.

But now Government planning inspector Nicholas Taylor has scrapped the time frame, which the council imposed to keep disruption for residents to a minimum.

He said: "Although well intended in principle, the condition has proved with hindsight to be unrealistic and, in the event, inflexible, indicating an element of unreasonableness.

Planning consent was originally granted in 2008 and work on the extension started a year later. Residents have complained about noise disturbance from the development but Mr Taylor refuted claims the problems were excessive.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government officer added: "Some noise and disturbance from construction of any development is almost inevitable and I am not convinced that, in this case, it amounts to the significant adverse impacts."

Club bosses can continue with the development but the expansion may not be finished until 2020.

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The Environment Agency estimated 398,000 cubic metres of material had been brought on site but the scheme required a further 564,000.

But Mr Taylor decided against imposing another time limit.

He said: "In the case of a development which has already commenced, such as this, the only effective sanctions in the event of a breach of an agreed timetable would be to withhold consent to either complete the scheme, which would be counter-productive in this case, or to use the site for the authorised purpose, which would be disproportionate." Mr Taylor's report was tabled before the borough council's planning committee last night for confirmation.

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