Councillors ready to do battle with developer over homes plans after defying expert advice
08:31 08 August 2014
Councillors have vowed to tackle a speculative developer head on after defying the advice of experts to refuse a planning application for more than 120 homes.
Gladman Developments has been fighting to win approval for 128 homes off Field End, in Witchford, despite the scheme, which straddles the A142, proving unpopular with residents.
Councillors were expected to approve the plans at a meeting of East Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee last Wednesday.
But, despite the warning of council officers that a refusal could leave the council open to costly legal challenges, councillors were resolute and voted by a majority to refuse the plans.
Traffic and environmental health experts consulted by the district council did not object to Gladman’s plans, but councillors said they were wrong and overwhelmingly rejected the scheme.
Cllr Pauline Wilson, said: “Villages can cope with a few extra houses but 128 houses is ridiculous because we do not have the infrastructure to cope.”
Cllr Tom Hunt said: “I find it extraordinary that the county highways team have not got the correct position on this. Frankly, they are wrong.”
Witchford Parish Council also added its voice to the objections, along with unaligned councillor Ian Allen, who said: “Developers were offered the National Planning Policy Framework with the spurious clause offering a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
“This is allowing developers nationwide, and critically here in Witchford, to run roughshod over local wishes. The hollow promises of the coalition nationally and locally are coming home to roost in applications like this one.”
At the meeting, agents acting on behalf of Gladman said it did not intend to build houses on the site, simply to win planning permission and then sell the plot on to a builder.
A second planning application entered by Gladman, for 100 homes off Wilburton Road, in Haddenham, was also refused by councillors – but their decision was in line with the advice of planning experts.
Gladman has six months in which to appeal both decisions.