Backing given to plans for 1,700 homes in Ely


ECDC - Credit: Archant

Councillors have agreed in principle to allow developers to build up to 1,700 homes in the north of Ely, despite fears that the city’s infrastructure might be unable to cope.

East Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee were presented on Friday with plans by the Church Commissioners for England and a co-operative made up of local farmers.

The Church Commissioners applied to build 500 homes, shops, a supermarket, a pub, primary school and place of worship at Highflyer Farm, north of the King’s Avenue estate.

Endurance Estates, a co-operative of farmers, applied to trade in prime farmland north of Cam Drive to build 1,200 homes and associated infrastructure including a care home, pub, school and shops.

While councillors were largely supportive of the Endurance application, passing it without any objections and just two abstentions, the Church Commissioners’ plans were less warmly received, with three councillors objecting.

Both plans were, however, approved subject to ongoing negotiations over the delivery of infrastructure, like roads, community centres and playgrounds.

The developers will also have to negotiate with council officers over the number of affordable homes required and the amount of money that will have to be paid in developer contributions, which could run in to millions of pounds.

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Referring to the Church Commissioners, Cllr Derek Beckett, said: “We seem to be looking at a lot of things that are promised and I’m personally very doubtful that a lot of things can be delivered.”

And Cllr David Ambrose Smith added: “I believe that this application has been brought forward too soon. There are so many negatives against it and negotiations that need to be completed.”

In particular, councillors were upset about ongoing arguments over the ownership and condition of the Clayway catchwater drain, which would prove crucial in preventing future flooding in the area.

But, plans by Endurance Estates received praise from councillors, who said that the applicants “cared” about the future of the city.

Cllr Mike Rouse said: “Im impressed by the Endurance scheme. I think it reflects the care of the landowners and their respect for Ely.”

And Tom Kerby added: “It is a proper planning application compared to the last one, it is going to give us what we wanted, more so than the Church Commissioners.”