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Steve Barclay tells Fenland Council of ‘very valid’ concerns over 110 homes

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NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay has taken a ‘light touch’ approach to a controversial planning application for 110 homes in March despite, eight years ago, showing considerable support for a successful application for 10 homes at Doddington.

The March housing scheme on a nine-acre site off Upwell Road, put forward by Allison Homes, is being recommended for approval when it goes before the planning committee on May 31.

The MP’s senior caseworker, Charlotte Graham-Cameron, wrote on his behalf to Fenland Council noting that Steve had been contacted by a constituent opposed to the housing but also pointing out that as an MP he could not intervene.

Site boundary, Upwell Road, new housing

Site boundary, Upwell Road, new housing

His caseworker added that Steve “does, however, refer the views of my constituents to the planning department. Steve has been contacted by multiple constituents raising issues from flooding, drainage, road traffic and amenities such as schools, dentists, and doctors.

“I am sure these very valid planning concerns will be taken into consideration.”

A precedent, though, for taking a stronger approach was set by Mr Barclay in 2015.

On that occasion he wrote to Fenland District Council urging them to support his constituent, Duncan Boughton, who wanted to build 10 houses in Benwick Road to enable the money from the development to establish Field End Water holiday caravan park.

The MP accepted that “I very much appreciate that individual planning applications are a decision for local councillors and not the Member of Parliament”.

Land proposed for 110 homes off Upwell Road, March

Land proposed for 110 homes off Upwell Road, March

He went on to say that the council was obliged to follow new national guidelines at that time which allowed for small housing developments of 10 or less to be exempt from affordable housing requirements.

“This is relevant both to this specific application and more generally across Fenland where affordable housing costs have often compromised the quality of build given the relatively modest sale price the local market attracts when compared to the rest of the county.”

2015 letter to Fenland Council by Steve Barclay, MP

2015 letter to Fenland Council by Steve Barclay, MP

Mr Barclay added: “Mr Boughton makes a significant contribution to the local economy running an award-winning tourism business and I hope the council will look constructively on his proposal given the recent government guidance relating to small developments, which I have enclosed.”

Planning officers recommended it for refusal stating that the 10 homes wouldrespect the character of development in Doddington by reason of its layout and the impact that the development will have on the existing natural features along the site frontage will be detrimental to the appearance of the area.

“The proposal will result in ribbon development along Benwick Road that is out of keeping with the core shape and form of the settlement and will have an adverse impact on its character and appearance.”

However, the application was approved.

Residents in an around the proposed Upwell Road housing scheme are hoping that the planning committee will reject officers’ recommendation and instead refuse it.

Petition against 110 homes , off Upwell Rd, March

Petition against 110 homes , off Upwell Rd, March

Petition against 110 homes , off Upwell Rd, March

Petition against 110 homes , off Upwell Rd, March

The outline application is for up to 100 homes, with 20 per cent of them to be classified as affordable.

The council has received 86 letters of objection which outline the reasons why residents are concerned.

Objections include:

  • Drainage and flooding (reference to problems of surface water in Cavalry Drive,
  • Objectors consider there is insufficient sewer capacity; numerous objectors refer to sewer capacity and flooding on Calvary Road, additional concern of pumping station increasing issues, roads appear to be sinking with drainage failing therefore resulting in pooled flooding on roads,
  • One objector considers it contrary to the Fenland Infrastructure Delivery Plan,
  • Increased traffic resulting in congestion to the Cavalry Drive Upwell Road junction with pedestrian safety issues regarding school children crossing, traffic noise, air pollution and impact to people with allergies, increased car parking demand, on street parking blocks the roads,
  • Impact on schools, surgeries and dentists, no increase in policing,
  • Harm to green spaces and biodiversity/wildlife and loss of habitat,
  • A preference for smaller infills rather than major developments.
  • Excessive mass and scale of 110 properties

 

Site for 110 homes off Upwell Rd, March

Site for 110 homes off Upwell Rd, March

  • Effectively back garden development, greenfield when brown field sites are available,
  • An objector refers to other applications granted nearby totalling 24 dwellings.
  • Concern that the applicants estimate of traffic movement appears low and fails to consider cumulative impact
  • The transport plan is incomplete and uses out of date sources.
  • Turning out onto Upwell Road with no priority will result in backlogs, increasing noise and pollution to occupier of No 85,
  • Vehicle speed compliance.
  • Concerns regarding poor access for construction vehicles and disturbance caused, having to come by St. Peter’s Road exacerbated by parked cars, these comments were made as part of the pre-application consultation but appear to have been ignored,
  • Encroachment into the countryside, impact on this semi-rural footpath which should have a buffer in the development site, objection to proposed improvements to the footpath,
  • Impact on access for emergency vehicles,
  • Accident rates are higher than reported
  • Proposal does not represent a windfall site.
  • Overly dense proposal
  • Anti-social behaviour, creation of litter/waste, increased risk of crime
  • Design/appearance, out of character with the area and visual impact,
  • Contrary to policy, does not respect the form of the settlement, which is predominantly linear, representing urban sprawl
  • Light pollution
  • Outside DAB
  • Overshadowing and loss of light.
  • Creation of odours, Loss of trees of which few are in the area,
  • Sets a precedent.
  • Loss of dog walking area,
  • Does not benefit existing residents,
Site for 110 homes off Upwell Rd, March

Site for 110 homes off Upwell Rd, March

  • Vibration damage to house exacerbated if more traffic from development.
  • Too much development for the town with too little investment whilst shops are failing. Town already met its 2014 requirement,
  • An objector refers to an appeal decision (ref F/YR17/0563/O) for 4 dwellings to the rear of Nos 85-89 Upwell Road and considers the inspector’s reasons for dismissing the appeal should be similar to refusal of this application,
  • Cavalry Park and Drive are subject to weight restrictions, A representation from the Right Honourable Stephen Barclay MP was received that referred views he received from a member of the public. A petition received with 514 signatures objection on the following grounds:
  • Loss of agricultural land
  • Increased volume of traffic and pollution including construction site traffic,
  • Concerns of insufficient capacity on the sewer network (Anglian Water) leading to flooding,
  • Insufficient infrastructure (healthcare and schools)
  • Impact on neighbours of noise dust and pollution,
  • Loss of privacy, loss of views result in negative impact (including property value)
  • The council only supports these applications due to increasing council tax. Letters of support received from 4 residents referring to the following:

On education, planning officers says no financial provision is being sought since the application has come in before a different and also major application for land west of the Avenue

Education officers told the council that Neale Wade, for now, has sufficient capacity but the Avenue scheme, when it comes forward, is likely to “need to make a proportionate contribution towards any further (new) provision.”

The Upwell scheme, however, may still have to make a contribution further down the line.

The NHS says the proposed development is likely to have an impact on the services of the 3 x GP Practice operating within the vicinity of the application site, Riverside Practice, Cornerstone Practice and Merchford Practice.

Site for 110 homes off Upwell Rd, March

Site for 110 homes off Upwell Rd, March

“Upon reviewing the existing estate footprint and registered patients, they do not have the capacity to support this additional proposed growth resulting from this development,” an NHS official told the council.

“The existing GP practices do not have capacity to accommodate the additional growth resulting from the proposed development.

“The development would generate approximately 264 residents and subsequently increased the demand and healthcare pressures upon the existing services.”

Allison Homes are expected to be asked to provide a “developer contribution” to mitigate the impact of their proposals.

The house builder says the site is currently greenfield “but would represent a logical and seamless extension to the market town and an opportunity to deliver high quality and sustainable development.

“It would also provide much needed new market and affordable housing for the district and local area, along with a number of social, environmental and economic benefits”.

 

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