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Exasperated East Cambs planners call time on controversial 115 ‘community led’ housing

Of Wilburton scheme, planning officer writes: “I therefore intend to treat the application as ‘finally disposed of’”

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A flagship housing scheme – championed by East Cambridgeshire District Council but vehemently opposed by large numbers of residents – appears to have been quietly dropped.

Nearly four years after plans were lodged for the 115 homes – to include 35 Community Land Trust properties and five self-build – at Camp’s Field, south of Stretham Road, Wilburton, the developers missed a 14 day ‘put up or shut up’ deadline by the planning department at East Cambridgeshire Council.

An exasperated planning officer told the applicants – Stretham & Wilburton Community Land Trust and Laragh Homes Development Ltd – told them they had 14 days from January 11 to contact him but with no reply recorded on the planning portal of East Cambs council it means the scheme will be removed.

The developers had promised the overall scheme would also include commercial units or a creche/day nursery or possibly even a multi-functional community building.

Charles Roberts (right) tweeted back in 2018 that it “was a pleasure to show the Housing Minister Kit Malthouse (2nd right) around Stretham CLT earlier this week. He commented upon the fantastic design of the homes and the “entrepreneurial” approach taken by East Cambs Council”. With them is former Mayor James Palmer and former Cllr Tom Hunt, now MP for Ipswich.

Charles Roberts (right) tweeted back in 2018 that it “was a pleasure to show the Housing Minister Kit Malthouse (2nd right) around Stretham CLT earlier this week. He commented upon the fantastic design of the homes and the “entrepreneurial” approach taken by East Cambs Council”. With them is former Mayor James Palmer and former Cllr Tom Hunt, now MP for Ipswich.

But four years of wrangling, and a spirited campaign by Facebook Save Wilburton from Over Development who highlighted massive flaws, not least the claims of community support, planning consultant Gavin Taylor, on behalf of the council, offered the developers a final chance to respond to multiple queries.

His letter of January 11 to the agents says they had failed to responded to emails of July 7th, 2023, and September 11th, 2023.

“The application has been outstanding on the council’s records since 20th March 2020, with the last agreed target date ending on 10th July 2023,” he told them.

Campaigners argued the site proposed is not a natural extension of Wilburton

“I therefore intend to treat the application as ‘finally disposed of’” and sets out the criteria which allows the council to make this move.

Mr Taylor says the time to appeal against his decision is expired and no appeal has been made to the Secretary of State.

Leaving the door open, he offered a 14 day ‘window’ but with that date now gone, the application will finally be disposed of, and no further action taken.

Many villagers of Wilburton were never wholeheartedly convinced of the merits of increasing the village housing stock by over 20% on an open field and well outside the village envelope.

Questions began to be asked, motives for the advancement of the CLT model earnestly considered, and so began a mission to effectively to derail it.

Campaigners from ‘Save Wilburton from Over Development’ created a number of campaign messages to enhance their case for an investigation into the proposed community housing scheme.

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