Plans to build over 90 new homes on the edge of Soham have been refused after they were branded as “ill thought out”.

Developers were accused of trying to “cram” houses into the development site next to Soham Railway Station.

However, the developer refuted this claim and said they were being forced to defend old plans when they had made changes to address the concerns that had been raised.

The developer H P (Soham) Ltd had put forward the proposals to build 91 new homes on land off Mereside.

The development was proposed to include 63 houses, as well as 23 flats, with 12 of these homes due to be made available as affordable housing.

A new children’s play area was also proposed to be created within the development.

Previous plans to build 31 homes on the land were approved back in 2019.

Concerns about the latest application had been raised by planning officers at East Cambridgeshire District Council, who recommended that development should be refused.

Planning officers said the number of affordable homes proposed only made up 13 per cent of the total homes, which they said was a “significant shortfall” from what they expected in a new development.

They also said there would be an “under delivery” of open space for people to use and that what was proposed was “poor-quality open space”.

Planning officers added that there were also internal highways safety concerns, and argued the design failed to deliver a “beautiful and sustainable development”.

At a meeting of the district council’s planning committee on June 5, a representative of the developer highlighted to councillors that the application was first submitted back in 2020.

They said that in that time they had seen multiple case officers who they claimed had “sought to shape the development in their contradictory ways”.

They went on to say that the developer had submitted further changes to the proposed development, which they claimed would address many of the concerns raised, however, he said these had not been accepted by the district council.

The representative added that the developer was now working on a new outline application, and asked for a decision on the present application to be deferred until they had submitted the new plans.

The landowner, Neil Pistol, claimed they were being “forced” by the district council to defend plans for a development they did not want to put forward, as they had made changes to “address all the concerns raised”.

Councillor Chika Akinwale questioned the developer on why there was a shortfall in the amount of affordable housing proposed.

Mr Pistol said the previously approved development included 13 per cent affordable housing, and explained that they had followed that precedent.

Councillor Julia Huffer said the land was allocated in the local plan for up to 90 homes, but argued that did not mean the developer had to build 90 homes.

She said they could build “60 high quality” homes, and be able to offer “decent affordable housing, open space, and decent roadways”.

Cllr Huffer accused the developer of thinking about ‘how many homes they can cram into one site’.

The representative of the developer said they did not feel they were trying to “cram as many homes in as possible”.

However, they said there is a “large housing need” in the area and said the land being located next to a train station made it “ideal for making most efficient use of it”.

Officers said the plans being presented were the last formally submitted scheme that had been consulted on, and said the district council did not technically have to keep accepting updates.

However, they admitted there had not been a “perfect relationship” between the planning department and the developer.

Councillor James Lay said he had never seen an application come before the committee before with “so many areas” of concern raised by planning officers.

Cllr Huffer said she had rarely seen a “more ill thought out” proposed development, adding that she did not think the proposals were sensitive to the area.

When a decision on the application was put to a vote the committee voted to refuse the plans.