Councillors back housing plans despite concerns from officials


ECDC - Credit: Archant

Concerns over plans for new housing in Witchford were brushed off by councillors on the planning committee as they gave the development the go-ahead.

East Cambridgeshire District Council planning officer Melissa Reynolds said a plan for five new detached houses off Barton Close should be refused because it was not an efficient use of the land and wouldn’t meet the needs of the community.

But, at last Wednesday’s meeting, councillors proved unconvinced by Ms Reynolds argument and voted to reject the recommendation to refuse and instead to approve the plans.

The application was submitted by SGS Associates which argued that it specialised in delivering four and five-bedroom ‘executive homes’ and that a development featuring more houses would lead to a cramped layout and poor design.

It said: “Older and more affluent house buyers further up the ‘housing ladder’ should

not be discriminated against by the policy to only provide high density developments.”

But the district council’s planning experts said the development did not achieve best use of the land.

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According to the council, the density of the development equated to 13 dwellings per hectare while neighbouring developments in Barton Close and nearby Ward Close equated to 21 and 31 dwellings per hectare respectively.

Ms Reynolds said: The application is contrary to policies which encourage densities that are appropriate to a site. The applicant and agent have put forward counter views that are not considered to be sufficient to outweigh adopted and emerging planning policy.

“This failure to make best use of land would stifle the opportunity to provide a mix of housing types and sizes and to deliver affordable housing on this site, contrary to the aims of the national planning policy framework and local plan policy.”