A small advert on Page 38 of the Fenland Citizen on March 8th fulfilled the statutory requirement to publicise their intent.
But if Allison Homes expected a quiet, disinterested response to building 175 homes on a 20-acre field in Whittlesey they will have endured a rude awakening.
The planning portal at Fenland District Council where the application has been lodged is on fire with comments from many residents furious at more housing proposed for a town that is creaking at the edges with traffic, stretched health resources and challenging numbers for school places.
The site is described as on land south of 250 Drybread Road, Whittlesey, which, Allison Homes have told planners is “located 1.2 miles from the town centre and is accessible by foot or bike”.
The company says: “Whittlesey is in a strong location, with the city of Peterborough being a short commute of around 25 minutes.”
“The site is greenfield but represents a logical extension to the settlement and an opportunity to deliver a high quality and sustainable development.
“Within the locality there are ample facilities and services including multiple primary schools, a secondary school, surgery, supermarket, banks, post office, petrol station and multiple pubs, cafes, and eateries.
“This abundance of facilities and services are all within walking distance of the proposed site.”
Their sales pitch also promises 25 per cent of the homes will be affordable (split between affordable rented housing and shared ownership).
But there is a long journey ahead before it gets before the planning committee of Fenland District Council.
Allison Homes says the NHS have not previously been contacted about the proposals for the site.
“We have yet to receive any consultation response from the NHS informing us of the calculated S106 contributions to counter the implications on healthcare,” says the housing firm.
“This will occur through the planning consultation process once the application is validated. If the NHS calculate that there is a requirement for financial contributions, a S106 agreement will be required.”
Within days of the application being submitted, the NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Care Board (ICS) had lodged their early thoughts – and requirements.
“The proposed development is likely to have an impact on the services of the 2 x GP Practices operating within the vicinity of the application: Jenner Healthcare and Lakeside Healthcare, New Queen Street Surgery,” says the ICS.
“These practices have a combined registered patient list size of 36,790 and this development of 175 dwellings would see an increase patient pressure of circa 403 new residents which would require additional GP/nurse / (admin support) workforce to support increase in appointments.”
Setting out their requirements, the ICS says Allison Homes would need to find sufficient money “to fund a project which increases clinical capacity at one of the GP Practices in the vicinity”.
And to fund additional primary healthcare provision “to mitigate impacts arising from the development”.
Money then could buy the health services needed – but Whittlesey town council has a list of other objections.
The town council wants the application refused, claiming Drybread Road is not suitable, neither is the single-track road from the A605 via Decoy lakes, for access.
The council is also questioning whether the neighbourhood plan agreed by Whittlesey residents is being adhered to by the district council.
“At a recent FDC planning meeting when the Neighbourhood Plan was raised, there seemed to be more focus at undermining the plan than to adhere to the principles of the plan,” clerk Sue Piergianni has told Fenland planners.
“The main point we need to raise is that our schools have no more room. Even with the extension of our senior school, this was predicted to have a life span of 8 years without taking in to account those developments that have been agreed since that proposal was agreed.
“We can evidence this with our current numbers and recent successful appeals for just one additional student, never mind the numbers any new development will bring.
“Please consider that we also have an agreed consent for significant developments adjacent to Snowfields and in Coates.”
The clerk added: “To this end we would like to recommend refusal of this application and to ‘land bank’ this site as the most sensible location to for a future primary school.
“It would replace the existing Alderman Jacobs and thus allow Sir Harry Smith’s school to attain the whole site and remain central to our Town.
“The ‘new’ primary school would then alleviate all of the well‐known traffic issues on Drybread Road and would have the already planned cycle route on Drybread Road to its doorstep.”
So, we come to the objections from residents – there are many of them; here’s a selection.
Eamonn Dorling says: “The ‘existing’ light green trees and hedges in the North East side do not exist.
“Housing in this area with the creation of an additional junction onto Drybread Road will increase traffic near the largest junior school in Cambridgeshire where the 20mph restrictions fail to cope with parking and normal progress issues.
“In the opposite direction a single lane road without passing places will be expected to handle traffic in greater numbers where it fails to cope already. Maybe if the traffic is diverted to the A605?”
Rosie Saunders says: “A housing estate on this field will ruin the natural beauty of the fields and green space in Whittlesey. The roads around this area are not fit for purpose for increased traffic volumes. Another un-necessary housing estate that will negatively impact this town.”
Joseph Cartwright says: “Another 175 new families would start to gridlock the whole system. Doctors surgeries, dentists (impossible already), roads, schools, general infrastructure as well as precious field for nature to thrive.
“I know I’m new to the area, but it will be spoilt with another 175 homes in my opinion.”
Paul Gale says: “I don’t object to this plan, as it’s clear the land and area is suitable, taking into account the developments nearby.
“I believe the council need to be asking the question about funding to upgrade the single track of Bassenally Road to Eastrea Road. As 175 houses brings at least 350 cars, who will look to leave Whittlesey via that road to get out towards the east and the new Aldi Food Store etc”
“I suspect, once, or if this gets planning permission it wouldn’t be long before other parts of the land behind it, and alongside the single-track road and up to the old houses on Eastrea Road and Whittlesey Green are in asking for permission on a field-by-field basis.
“Each development will no doubt say the cost to upgrade is too expensive for them taking into account the size of the development.
“So, I think the council should be thinking further ahead and making sure money is obtained from the developers towards this road, so when the next permission request comes in for the next field, they can also pay some money as well.”
Richard Clark says: “The building of more homes in the town is inevitable, however with the various new housing developments around Whittlesey there needs to be a review of amenities, such as schooling, doctors, public transport etc.
“A need for a permanent police presence in the town should be considered, As well as facilities to cater for various age groups (currently very little for the high school age group). With continued population increase within the town the resources available which already struggle to cope would simply fail.”
Alastair Ross says:” This is not viable, with all the increases in traffic from current ongoing developments and other recent developments the roads are not fit for purpose unless as part on the plan a bypass is built.
“The schools are already full as are the doctors surgeries. Unless as part of this development there is a school included and a new surgery it should be rejected. The town does not want or need more developments.
“Also of concern is the infrastructure including water supply and sewage as this is already near capacity. I suggest this application is rejected.”
Nigel Barnes says: “Too many new homes and not enough infrastructure. There’s not enough room in the schools. Not enough doctors. Etc. Stop this madness.”
Carole Dilorio says: I wish to oppose these plans: * Too many houses being built, we don’t need any more. * No supporting infrastructure – schools, dentists, doctors can’t cope now – will be worse if these plans are approved. * Sewers won’t be able to cope, and the area will end up like Stanground, and smell like one-bit communal toilet!
* A605 struggling now with current traffic – even more when all the houses are sold. * Drybread Road will become a very busy road (20mph currently) and speed limit is already being broken.
* The road going past Decoy Lakes will become a rat run to the A605 * More wear and tear on the roads by all the extra vehicles
* More air pollution due to all the extra vehicles * Coronation Avenue, Victory Avenue, Cemetery Road and Bassenhally Road will become so busy especially during school drop off and collection times.
* More risk of accidents to other road users and pedestrians, namely the local school children. * Yet more children being dropped off by parents clogging up the road and again at 3.15pm. * We need to keep the green areas, including this land, free from development.
* Wildlife will be forced to move away. * If these plans are passed for this company (Allison Homes) it will set a precedent to carry on building more and more housing, until there is no countryside left. Again, please note I am strongly against these plans.”
Mrs F T Paterson says: “There is no drainage plan or comment from the drainage board.
“Previously approved nearby locations have had to have extensive drainage work, and there is a dyke bordering 3 sides of the site, one of which the access road will breach.
“My major concern is the access. With the plans for the field the other side of the football field, placing access east of number 112 for 130 properties, access to the football field will be moved to the bend in the road.
“Drybread Road will have, if this is approved, five access points around a blind bend area within a couple of hundred yards. While this is a 20mph zone, it is a very busy road, especially at commuter and school times, and will add to that traffic around the schools.”
Rebecca Jones says: “The location is unsuitable for the further increase in traffic via Drybread. With a primary school located close to the area which is already causes major traffic issues at school drop off and pick up times. Further housing will greatly increase this further.
“The environmental impact to the area has not truly been considered reducing further the living areas for nature. This is really not in keeping with maintaining the town feel or located in an appropriate area which already floods in the winter months.”
Robert Boddington says: “Cars from 175 homes will cause unimaginable congestion at peak traffic times. Parked residents cars on Drybread Road will cause inevitable hold-ups and frustration to the increased amount of traffic from the proposed development.
“I cannot imagine what funds would be needed to widen the present single -track carriageway from Gothic House to Newlands Road.
“School times will make travelling along Drybread Road pretty well impossible and dangerous to school children crossing the road on their way to Alderman Jacob’s school. The Travel Plan is incorrect. Travel plan as quoted on the planning application, ‘3.18 The service is more frequent on Saturdays, running approximately every half an hour throughout the day in both directions.
“On Sundays the service reverts back to a single service in either direction.’ As everybody knows, THIS SERVICE DOES NOT OPERATE ON SUNDAYS & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS.
“Wild life will be displaced, and agricultural land lost forever.”
Irene Lawrence says: “It is nearly impossible to get a doctor’s appointment with an extra 170 houses with maybe two or more occupants that it would be too much of a strain. Our town cannot take any more houses.”
Simon Wood is part of the Senior Archaeologist Historic Environment Team at Cambridgeshire County Council.
“The Cambridgeshire historic environment record indicates that the remains of a ditched enclosure, likely of archaeological interest, may exist within the proposed development site,” he says.
“The area of the newly built housing estate to the south contained a series of cropmarks some of which were indicative of past occupation. Archaeological evaluation here in 2011, prior to construction, revealed archaeological features, specifically a group of undated cremation burials, and a group of gullies and post‐holes.
“Bronze Age, medieval and post‐medieval pottery was recovered. The site is also circa 350m to the north of the Fen Causeway a major east‐west Roman road.
“The remains of ditched rectilinear enclosures and ring‐ditches, most likely indicative of Iron Age or Roman settlement were previously identified from aerial photography prior to their destruction by the estate immediately to the west of the proposed development site.
“Archaeological evaluation did, however, take place prior to housing development further to the north west, at Showfields in 2013‐14, and this revealed archaeological remains dating to the Romano‐British period.
“A ring‐ditch and associated likely Saxon sunken‐featured buildings of national significance lie just under 1km to the west, at Eastrea – these have been designated as a scheduled monument.
“The applicant writes in their planning statement (and archaeological desk‐based assessment) that an archaeological geophysical survey has been commissioned.
“However, the report on this survey has not been provided. The results of this survey should be submitted to support this planning application.
“Please note that the applicant has not contacted us, to our knowledge, with respect to the nature or scope of any such survey, and ideally this should have occurred before the survey took place.
“Given the scale of the development and its archaeological potential, we recommend that the site is subject to an archaeological evaluation, to be commissioned and undertaken at the expense of the developer and carried out prior to the granting of planning permission.
“The evaluation results should allow for the fuller consideration of the presence/absence, nature, extent, quality, and survival of archaeological remains within the proposed development area.
“An informed judgement can then be made as to whether any planning consent will need to include provisions for the recording and, more importantly, the preservation of important archaeological remains in situ.”
Application Number: F/YR23/0245/O
You have time to add your comments via the Fenland District Council website.
Can you help us?
While you’re here, we are asking, for the first time, for readers to support us financially by taking out a modest subscription.
£2, or £3 or even £5 will help us achieve our goals. It will mean the second year of CambsNews will be livelier, healthier, and much better placed to cover the important issues affecting our everyday lives.
Your subscription simply means we can provide and expand our news FREE to all readers (Read More)Will you help us? Simply click the link below to make a donation.