As plans for 600 homes for Soham get nearer, wildlife trust warn of ‘insidious’ impact unless more green spaces are provided

Soham Eastern Gateway

Soham Eastern Gateway - Credit: Archant

Councillors were warned that the 70 acre site for 600 homes, shops, allotments and a medical centre – forming the Soham Eastern Gateway development – could have an “insidious” impact for local residents.

Soham Eastern Gateway

Soham Eastern Gateway - Credit: Archant

Councillors were warned that the 70 acre site for 600 homes, shops, allotments and a medical centre – forming the Soham Eastern Gateway development – could have an “insidious” impact for local residents.

Martin Baker of the Wildlife Trust accused Cambridgeshire County Council, the majority landowner, of going ahead with proposals that could “include pollution, both air and water, and damage by construction traffic

“The most insidious of the indirect impacts is the recreational pressures from the thousands of new residents of Soham.”

He said the district council had planned for the commons to act “as the green lungs for significant new housing” without sufficient consideration of the impacts on the cultural heritage of the area. Biodiversity and long term management were being ignored and the scale of the development and loss of traditional livestock grazing was of concern.


You may also want to watch:


The county council is near to submitting a planning application for the long awaited scheme with other land owners such as Soham Town Council, Bishops Laney Charity and G Hobbs set to benefit.

The Wildlife Trust says: “The concept plan provides for very little opportunity for biodiversity enhancement and will functionally separate Qua Fen Common and East Fen Common, compromising the local ecological network.

Most Read

“It will result in direct and indirect adverse impacts on Qua Fen Common and East Fen Common which are both county wildlife sites of significant local nature conservation value.”

The Wildlife Trust wants guidance given to the county council – through the district local plan- to ensure the sustainability of the long term management of the area.

Extra thought should also be given to creating more natural green spaces including provision for dog walking and even consideration be given to reducing the number of homes.

Mr Baker says: “I hope that East Cambridgeshire District Council will be able to address the issues raised and ensure that Soham Eastern Gateway becomes a truly sustainable development that achieves a real gain in biodiversity.”

This, he said, was much preferred to a development “that contributes to the loss of biodiversity”.

Soham Eastern Gateway proposals were first published more than five years ago and a detailed application is expected soon.

Expansion of Weatheralls primary school, relocation and expansion of Staploe Medical Centre and a new roundabout access to the A142 are all included.

Public footpaths across the largely agricultural site will be re-routed and the county council has always insisted that the protected wildlife sites of Qua Fen Common and East Fen Common “are not expected to change dramatically”.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter