Planning committee agrees - by a single vote - to allow new home in historic East Cambridgeshire village

Land To East Of Orchard Cottage 11 Chapel Lane Reach,CambridgeJ. East Cambs planners agree to this h

Land To East Of Orchard Cottage 11 Chapel Lane Reach,CambridgeJ. East Cambs planners agree to this home on the site after committee votes 6-5 in favour. Picture; EAST CAMBS COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

An 11-month planning battle to secure permission for a two-storey house in the historic village of Reach was approved by just one vote.

East Cambridgeshire District Council planning committee voted 6-5 in favour after a lengthy debate which heard from supporters and opponents.

The meeting heard that objections to the proposals for the house to the rear of 11 Chapel Lane and fronting onto Hythe Lane had been made.

“The scheme had been amended four times, mainly changing elements of the external appearance, as well as the removal of a car port and reducing the overall size of the proposed dwelling,” councillors were told.

It had been ‘called in’ for determination by the committee by Cllr Charlotte Cane. She had questioned the impact on archaeology, access, drainage, and the effect on nearby White Roses.

“The proposal was designed to be a simple cottage taking reference from its nearby neighbours and overall character of the village of Reach,” said a report to councillors.

“In connection with the historic environment, the application site was within the conservation area and opposite was White Roses, a Grade II listed building. “While there were expectations of archaeology in the location, this did not prevent development.

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“However, the developer would be required to undertake a written scheme of investigation and this could be secured by condition.”

Anglia Water had also assured the council there was “adequate capacity” and there were no highways concerns.

The committee was advised by their senior planning officer who felt the proposal “was considered acceptable. “The design shared features from other buildings in the locale, in keeping with the local area.

“It could provide adequate off-street parking and would provide a small dwelling which would lead to a sustainable development without causing harm to the setting of the conservation area and listed building”.

Tim Clutton-Brock, who has lived at White Roses for 40 years, opposed the application.

Reach was a mediaeval port and The Hythe and Fair Green were its most important historical components, he said.

The Hythe is a narrow lane skirted by old houses on both sides. No other houses fronting The Hythe have been built for at least a century and there are both historical and practical reasons to avoid building further houses fronting The Hythe.

He felt the development would have a substantial effect on the appearance and amenity value of The Hythe and show a precedent for building new houses fronting onto it which will destroy its character and amenity value.

Applicant Deborah Blocksage told the committee that “a sustainable cottage will meet the needs of our present and future generations and one that respects the scale and rhythm of its neighbours”.

Arguing in favour of providing housing for local people she said: “It would be a shame that their generation, as they get older, may have to move away from this area owing to the lack of affordable homes.

She said: “We do realise that some residents along The Hythe have a lot of negativity towards our proposal.

“We have asked other villagers views, who do not live along The Hythe, and the general feedback we received was that they cannot see what harm it would cause and that The Hythe needs a refresh.”

Cllr David McMillan of Reach Parish Counci: “The land under the house will be quite unstable and there could be underground water so foundations will need to guard against such problems and other properties in the area have had trouble.

“This historic setting makes the archaeological conditions especially important.”

He said that there were access issues and both fire engines and ambulance drivers faced difficulties in that road.

“There was an ambulance delayed in March/April of this year, and a fire engine going to White Roses to deal with their chimney fire a few years ago.”

He set out other concerns of the council and added: “Please refuse the application.”

Cllr Cane said that the proposal would intrude a 21st century building into an historical setting.

She was asking the committee to refuse the application not only because of road safety and drainage, but mainly because of the archaeology’ cultural and heritage issues.

The proposal was agreed in line with officers’ recommendation.