Orbit Homes lodge appeal after being turned down for 160 homes on Soham site

One of the proposed layouts for housing at Soham prepared by Orbit Homes. Their final application ha

One of the proposed layouts for housing at Soham prepared by Orbit Homes. Their final application has been rejected and they will now appeal refusal by East Cambs Council - Credit: Archant

Land owned by a consortium of Soham and Ely people – including a local charity – is to be subject to a public inquiry after East Cambs District Council rejected a scheme for 160 homes.

Orbit Homes has decided the time for talking is over and has lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate after the Blackberry Lane, Soham, site was decided by a vote of 7 to 2 against their proposals.

Tim Salter of the Planning Inspectorate told East Cambridgeshire Council that the inquiry can be expected to last at three days.

The council accepts the site is zoned for housing but the argument – when it went before councillors – was over density, flood risk, and the visual impact of bunding and landscaping.

The land is shown on the application form as being owned by Bishop Laney’s charity of Witchford, B Ashton of Vineyard Way, Ely, D J Palmer of Brook Street, Soham and C Palmer of the Butts, Soham.

Minutes from the planning committee that debated the application show that Councillor Bill Hunt supported it in principle and wanted modifications: he argued that “to grant approval today would be a panic measure”.

Chairman Cllr Josh Schumann said he had concerns regarding amenity, water logging, parking, a five metre high bund and protected trees.

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Councillor Derrick Beckett said he had a number of concerns including tandem parking which would be needed for almost 90 per cent of the site. He too was concerned about draining and wanted a “less dense” proposal back before the committee.

Councillor Mike Rouse regretted that the number of homes had not been reduced as he thought an opportunity had been missed “to create something better”.

At one point – given the council’s lack of a five year supply of land – he felt it should be supported but said after listening to committee members comments he was included to support its refusal.

Councillors were told by their senior planning officer that the greatest concern was night time noise levels during the hotter months when people were more likely to have bedroom windows open.

Before reaching their decision to refuse, the committee was told that detailed negotiation between the developer and the Environment Agency had secured agreement over flood risk.

One in five of the proposed homes will be affordable and up to £160,000 would be provided for upgrading the A142/A1123 Fordham Road.