Councillors and villagers tell planning inspector they don’t want eight acre field to be used for 70 houses

Developers put forward images of the field they want to develop for housing at Witchford Picture; ea

Developers put forward images of the field they want to develop for housing at Witchford Picture; east cambs planning portal - Credit: Archant

A village went into battle this week against developers who want to build 70 homes on an eight-acre field.

Developers put forward images of the field they want to develop for housing at Witchford. They also

Developers put forward images of the field they want to develop for housing at Witchford. They also showed these photos of propertes that are near to the application site, Picture; east cambs planning portal - Credit: Archant

Following refusal by East Cambridgeshire Council, the company behind the proposals, Manor Oak Homes, began their appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

Such is the hostility by villagers at Witchford to the proposals, minutes of the planning committee revealed that even the developers’ agent, Lydia Voyias, admitted they were fighting an uphill battle for approval.

“Ms Voyias replied that there was not much support, in fact the scheme had largely been met with objections,” records the minutes of the planning committee in November 2019..

Ward councillor Bill Hunt, who is also chairman of the planning committee, told the appeal hearing: “This application is in my view overdevelopment.

Developers put forward images of the field they want to develop for housing at Witchford Picture; ea

Developers put forward images of the field they want to develop for housing at Witchford Picture; east cambs planning portal. They also showed this image of where other homes are proposed or agreed for Witchford. It is a popular village for developers - Credit: Archant


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“It would do demonstrable harm to the open agricultural charm of this important entry to the village.

“The proposed application site entrance is outside the development envelope, outside the 30mph speed limit area and in the open countryside.”

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He added: “Any field between the Main Street and the A142 appears to be ‘fair game’ and although the urgent need for housing is appreciated, many residents feel that enough is enough.

“The A142 is on many occasions so busy that motorists use Witchford main street to avoid the traffic along the by-pass.”

Cllr Hunt reminded the planning inspector that he chaired the meeting that accepted officers’ recommendation of refusal.

“There had been considerable objections by the public and the local parish council,” he said.

The inspector will also hear from the developers who had previously told the planning committee that the extra homes would “enhance the vitality of Witchford”.

Ms Voyias felt the proposal addressed the housing shortfall and would make a valuable contribution to the district’s land supply and would provide 30 per cent affordable housing.

County councillor Councillor Lorna Dupré had told the planning committee that the scheme gave no evidence of sustainability, it was located on the wrong side of Ely and was outside the development envelope.

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