County council owned property company gets a surprise knock back on 147 homes for Cambridgeshire village
PUBLISHED: 17:59 14 October 2020 | UPDATED: 18:12 14 October 2020
A proposal for a 147-home development in Cottenham was rejected by South Cambridgeshire District Council.
The applicant, This Land, is an arm’s-length development company wholly owned by Cambridgeshire County Council.
The proposal was for field to the west of Cottenham, north off Rampton Road, and to the east of Les King Wood.
Outline planning permission for up to 154 homes on the site was originally refused by the South Cambridgeshire’s planning committee in 2017.
But that decision was overturned at appeal in 2018, meaning the principle of allowing an estate of that size in that location has been established.
On Wednesday (October 13), the reserved matters planning application, which would grant final approval to a more detailed and specific plan, was rejected by the planning committee, with eight councillors voting against, and three in favour.
The application had been recommended for approval by officers.
But it was opposed by Cottenham Parish Council, as well as both district councillors for the village, Eileen Wilson and Neil Gough, who questioned aspects relating to the design and layout, among other issues.
Summing up the committee’s debate on the application, the chair councillor John Batchelor said: “The main concern is on design, the height and number of houses, in particular not meeting the requirements of the neighbourhood plan”.
Cottenham Parish Council said This Land only acquired 8.76 hectares of the original 10.81 hectare proposed development site, leaving over two hectares in the ownership of the county council “presumably as a base for expanding the primary school in Lambs Lane”.
Although This Land’s application asked for permission for a smaller number of homes than granted at the outline stage – 147 instead of 154 – a smaller proposed site meant the density would actually increase.
So, whereas the original permission would have seen around 14 homes per hectare in the developed part of the site, a council document said the new proposal would increase that to around 17.
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Explaining her intention to vote against, Cllr Deborah Roberts said: “The height is far too high, the numbers are far too high, that should have come down in accordance with losing those two hectares of land”.
Cllr Heather Williams said: “It’s not suitable, in my view, for Cottenham. I think it does have too much of an urban-design feel to it, and I think the heights of the building are unacceptable as others have said”.
Although she added: “It is a finely balanced one that people can see either way”.
Cllr Claire Daunton said there was a “lack of attention” to Cottenham’s neighbourhood plan, a point echoed by councillor Richard Williams, who raised concerns that the plan was “not being respected”.
A nearby resident, Michael Brown of Rampton Road, objected to the application.
He said the proposed homes near to his own would be “overbearing” and lead to a “loss of privacy and loss of light”.
David Aplin of This Land, said: “We are a developer that can make a difference. Our core values are about delivering quality design based around sustainability, ecology, and with community at the forefront of all that we do”.
He said This Land had consulted “extensively” and “in particular with the local community”.
“We have listened,” he said, going on to say the development would provide “well-designed sustainable housing”.
Speaking for Cottenham Parish Council, Frank Morris said the design gives “insufficient weight is being given to certain policies in our neighbourhood plan”.
He said the parish council had identified mitigations in “all the areas” where it made objections, but he said, contradicting Mr Aplin, This Land “have not listened”.
Cllr Martin Cahn, questioned whether or not nearby homes would be overshadowed.
“Although there are things that I’m not happy about, perhaps it’s not a perfect development, but I think it’s a good enough development for us to grant permission,” he said.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Gough said: “This Land needs to live up to its promise to be more than a standard profit-driven developer. I would expect the company to come back to us and engage fully with parish council and local residents. I want to see some significant improvements.”
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