Councillors’ backing for housing plans on site of former bingo hall

The Regal Communitty Centre, littleport

The Regal Communitty Centre, littleport - Credit: Archant

Councillors voted to back a developer’s plans to build houses on the site of a former bingo hall and cinema in Littleport, going against the advice of planning officials.

Buckingham and Sparrow resubmitted plans to build four detached four-bedroom houses in Hempfield Road, on the former site of The Regal, back in January.

The development was also set to include garaging, parking and access drives.

At a meeting of the council’s planning committee held last Wednesday, planning officer Julie Barrow recommended refusal of the plans, saying it did little to enhance the protected conservation area of the village.

She said: “This site represents a rare opportunity for a well designed, comprehensive form of development. The proposed dwellings appear overly large and bulky within the site, especially when viewed from the side.

“The proposed dwellings appear dated with little regard for surrounding buildings and features and the bland nature of the scheme will neither preserve nor enhance the character and appearance of the area and the nearby conservation area.”

Ms Barrow was also unhappy with the layout of the scheme, saying that the amenity of some properties would be affected.

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But councillors on the planning committee disagreed with Ms Barrow’s assessment and voted to approve the plans.

In 2013, Buckingham and Sparrow offered to donate The Regal and its car park to Littleport Parish Council.

The developer offered the building for the community in return for the district council waiving a requirement for it to build affordable homes on a 60-home development it was working on near the Highfields estate.

But despite support from the parish council and a local campaign, the offer was refused by East Cambridgeshire District Council.