Councillors bottled it

PUBLISHED: 14:04 19 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:20 04 May 2010

I WOULD like to express my disappointment with our district councillors for throwing out the planning application made by Sanctuary Hereward Housing Association to redevelop land at Walsingham Way and West Fen Road. It strikes me as being disingenuous fo

I WOULD like to express my disappointment with our district councillors for throwing out the planning application made by Sanctuary Hereward Housing Association to redevelop land at Walsingham Way and West Fen Road.

It strikes me as being disingenuous for councillors to advocate increasing the supply of affordable homes, but then block a perfectly sensible scheme put forward by a housing association.

Of course, existing residents had every right to fight their corner. One can entirely understand that they have no desire to move from homes in which they have lived for many years. However, one might have hoped that our councillors could see the bigger picture.

The scheme, proposed by Sanctuary Hereward, would have seen the creation of 22 additional affordable homes. That's a significant contribution to the affordable housing problem faced by our community. The scheme would also have allowed Sanctuary Hereward to manage its properties more efficiently, thereby allowing resources to be utilised for developing further affordable homes in the region.

Councillors were clearly swayed in their decision to refuse planning permission by the 30 or so residents that turned up at the committee meeting.

However, councillors also had a duty to look after the interests of all those languishing on housing waiting lists. Perhaps if they had done so, they would have arrived at a different conclusion.

Councillors will, no doubt, attempt to deflect criticism by asserting that the scheme represented over-development. However, at a density of 66 homes per hectare the scheme was quite reasonable given that 26 of the homes were to contain two bedrooms or less. It should also be pointed out that the council's planning officers had recommended the scheme for approval, subject to certain conditions being met.

Both Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors were keen to let us know how they were in favour of more affordable homes when seeking election, but when faced with making real decisions they bottled it.

CHRIS MILLS

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