5-4 vote by councillors to allow 19 homes at Swaffham Bulbeck but parish council disagrees on number
PUBLISHED: 06:59 29 December 2017
Councillors debating whether to allow 19 homes in an East Cambs village instead of 12 originally agreed were given a warning about density.
The East Cambs planning committee was told that “the strategic planning officer had stated ‘the proposed submission Local Plan suggests an indicative site capacity of 12 dwellings.
“This figure is generally a rather crude estimate, based on assumptions about the net site area. Unless specifically stated, the indicative dwelling capacity figure is not intended to be a maximum or minimum limit.
“If a proposal presents a suitable design solution, but exceeds the indicative site capacity, I do not see
this as a reason for concern.’”
The advice was duly heeded and the committee voted 5-4 in favour of allowing the homes at the former Hillside quarry, on the corner of Quarry Lane and Heath Road at Swaffham Bulbeck.
Chris Holt, a resident, told the committee the maximum should be 12 – a figure reached following “diligent research” by the parish council. He said it also avoided the argument of riding roughshod over the community.
He warned traffic would be a danger because the site was on a blind corner.
Mr Holt also argued that the design was inappropriate for the village because it would dominate the view. It was overdevelopment and argued that Swaffham Bulbeck was a village, not a town, and the density of the proposal was urbanisation.
The committee was told that six neighbour responses were sought, but 90 responses had been made.
Edward Bidwell, on behalf of the site owners, said the scheme would provide a positive development for the village and it would improve the streetscape.
He also said there would be eight affordable homes (40 per cent) built there.
It was a brownfield site, the majority of which was vacant and derelict.
One councillor was told that if only 12 homes were built the number of affordables would drop to five.
Sue Romero, chairman of Swaffham Bulbeck Parish Council, said they supported housing on the site but was opposed to there being 19 units at a density which exceeded that of the rest of the village.
She argued 19 was an increase of almost 60 per cent above the indicative number and this was too many.
All the neighbours and the parish council believed the proposal to be overdevelopment in its current form.
Councillor Allen Alderson, ward member, said the strategic planning officer’s comments were worrying because what they felt he was effectively saying was that if the applicant wanted more than the indicative 12 dwellings, let him have them.
He said it would expect to see this type of development in Soham or Ely, but not here.
Swaffham Bulbeck was already accepting a large number of houses, said Cllr Alderson, who argued this development would ruin the village. He saw himself as a guardian of the village.
But Councillor Mark Goldsack believed the scheme was a good design and that there was nothing wrong with it. Other areas in the district were taking more housing and so should Swaffham Bulbeck.
Councillor Lavinia Edwards declared that she would vote against the officer’s recommendation. She could not support approval as she believed it to be an inappropriate design, there was lack of parking, a blind corner, and it was overdevelopment of the site.
Cllr Goldsack said that all he saw on the site visit was a scruffy area that needed something doing with it. Officers now have delegated approval to finalise the agreement.