Mayor Palmer’s town councillor father refused permission to build two chalet bungalows at Soham in a next door field

Soham town councillor Christopher Palmer (right) has been refused permission to build two bungalows

Soham town councillor Christopher Palmer (right) has been refused permission to build two bungalows next to his son. Mayor James Palmer, in Soham. East Cambs Council says there were no special circumstances to allow it. Picture: ELY STANDARD - Credit: Archant

Town councillor Christopher Palmer was refused permission for two bungalows near to his son Mayor James Palmer’s luxury home because the designs are not up to the same standard.

East Cambridgeshire District Council planning officer Dan Smith concluded that “consideration of the scheme on the tilted balance indicates that the development should be refused”. Senior officers backed that recommendation.

Cllr Christopher Palmer had hoped to build the bungalows east of 138 The Butts and near to where his son’s house was approved in 2017.

Mayor Palmer’s scheme won approval for being of “exceptional quality or innovate nature of design” and the council felt the ‘exemplar’ nature of the home allowed it to qualify for an exemption for homes built in the countryside.

But East Cambs Council felt no such exemption could apply to the bungalows proposed by Cllr Christopher Palmer even though the council is unable to demonstrate it is building sufficient homes.

Mr Smith said the council’s inability to show it has a five year supply of land weighed in favour of approval although they needed to consider the “adverse impacts and the benefits of the scheme”.

He said that “as part of that balance considerable weight and importance should be attached to the benefit which the proposal brings in terms of delivery of new homes”.

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Two homes would only have limited benefit and again the economic benefits involved in construction would be minimal.

“The adverse impact of the scheme would be the harm it would cause to the character and visual amenity of the area,” said Mr Smith.

It would bring about housing in a field “which is currently open and undeveloped and contributes significantly to the rural character of the wider area”.

The adjoining home – his son’s – had been built on a separate parcel of land and did not have the same rural perspective and additionally was allowed on the basis of its “exceptional architectural and sustainability credentials, which again not do apply in the current case”.

Soham Town Council argued that the site was outside the development envelope, it was not sustainable, there would be extra traffic on a single track road “and the development is not an exemplar build”.

The planning application was advertised in the Cambridge News and neighbours consulted but there were no objections.