Decision delayed as Persimmon Homes apply to alter agreement to build rail crossing for new Doncaster estate

The location of the rail underpass
The location of the rail underpass

Councillors and residents have hit out at a billion pound housing developer who wants to alter an agreement so it can build more properties on a plot of land before constructing a promised rail crossing.

The application around the Manor Farm site in Bessacarr, has prompted anger at Persimmon Homes’ plans to increase the number of occupied homes from 150 to 250 before the safety passage is built off Carr Lane.

Persimmon has already breached the number as occupancy levels stand at 187. The original agreement in 2009 was signed in so the safety pass to Manor Farm would be built after the 150th home was being lived in. 

Doncaster Council’s planning committee voted to defer the decision for at least another month in light of new information. 

Robin McGinn from Persimmon said Network Rail had advised them following a review that occupancy levels at 250 homes would be safe without rail underpass.

But Bessacarr Coun Majid Khan and objector Phil Midgely said Network Rail were closing the current level crossings only for them to be reopened by the council. 

But DMBC planning manager Roy Sykes said because Network Rail was the statutory consultee on safety, it would be ‘tricky ground’ for the council if the committee turned it down prompting an appeal. 

Planning officer Nicola Elliot recommended that councillors agree the deviation of the Section 106 agreement. 

Addressing the committee, Coun Khan said: “The original trigger threshold was occupancy at 150 homes which has been exceeded at 187. Clearly Persimmon and Network Rail between them have breached the consent which we gave them originally.

“It’s almost like they’re here thinking the decision has been predetermined and we will allow them to increase it to 250 homes. 

“At the same time, the level crossings are continuously closed and it’s turned into a to and fro game between the ourselves and Network Rail.

“If there isn’t an adverse affect on safety with the occupancy levels then why are Network Rail closing the levels crossings. Why is then down to us as the council to enforce that. 

“I feel that from the previous breaches I’ve seen – there will be repeats of that and ultimately, the safety of residents is at risk.”

Robin McGinn, from Persimmon, said they expect to be at 250 unit occupancy by May 2020 but then added it be the ‘summer or autumn’. 

“We want to see this underpass go in as soon as possible,” he said. 

“It was envisaged the project would be delivered at a certain point in time but once we got into the detail of the process and design to ensure it was fit for purpose, this has taken longer than we would’ve wanted. 

“It’s not been the case that we’ve wilfully wanted to delay it we found ourselves in a situation that we couldn’t have predicted at the time.”