A FAMILY has claimed victory in a battle to build homes on a piece of land, despite a 30-year-old agreement saying houses could not be built.

Malcolm, Daniel and Richard Payne own land at Hall Road, east of Great Totham.

Their plans to build 30 houses were blocked by Maldon District Council and a planning agreement from October 1984 was put in place by the previous landowner.

The land formed part of a larger parcel which was owned by late cricketer Tom Martin.

Upon Mr Martin’s death, his executors applied for planning permission to carry out a small development of six homes on Seagar’s estate – which itself was a residential development off Hall Road, and which lies north west of the application site.

The executors entered into a planning agreement with Maldon District Council under which planning permission was granted for the six-home development, subject to two main conditions.

The first was the cricket field would be donated to the Great Totham Parish Council.

The second condition was no permanent structures would be built on the remaining land.

In March 2016 the applicants submitted an outline planning application for 30 homes, 12 of which would be affordable.

The council’s planning committee resolved to refuse the application.

Their report said: “The proposed development would have an intrusive visual impact upon the site and its surroundings as well as a material detrimental effect on the character and appearance of the wider countryside.

“Further, the proposal for market and affordable housing would introduce unwelcome domestic activity to the site.”

The decision was taken to a tribunal at the Lands Chamber.

Judge Peter McCrea said: “In my view the intended user of the application land, based on the proposed tenure mix, is a reasonable one. It is plain the proposed user is impeded by the restriction.

“In my judgment the ability of the council to resist development by relying on the restrictions in the 1984 agreement does amount to a practical benefit, but such practical benefit is not of substantial value or advantage.

“I reject the view that the restriction continues to serve a useful purpose in that it prevents the development as proposed.

“It cannot be of substantial value or advantage to the council to resist a reasonable use of the land for a development for which outline planning permission has been granted, and which would, if permitted, go towards meeting the district’s housing need.

“In my view no compensation award should be made because far from sustaining a loss or disadvantage as a result of the modification, the council would benefit from the development taking place.”

We contacted Maldon District Council for a comment but did not receive a response before deadline.