Eco retirement cabins in Soham lose planning appeal due to location, living conditions and noise

PUBLISHED: 11:46 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:04 26 March 2019

Eco log cabins in Soham lose planning appeal due to location, living conditions and noise. Illustration by Robert Negus to show planners what it would have looked like. Picture: ECDC.

Eco log cabins in Soham lose planning appeal due to location, living conditions and noise. Illustration by Robert Negus to show planners what it would have looked like. Picture: ECDC.

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A Soham man's planning appeal to build two eco lodges next to his house to be used as a retirement home for himself and his friend have been refused by inspectors.

Eco log cabins in Soham lose planning appeal due to location, living conditions and noise. Robert Negus is pictured. Picture: JOHN ELWORTHY.Eco log cabins in Soham lose planning appeal due to location, living conditions and noise. Robert Negus is pictured. Picture: JOHN ELWORTHY.

The lodges would be “isolated” and subject to “excessive noise” due to being next to a railway line, East Cambridgeshire District Council say.

Robert Negus, who has lived in The Butts for more than 30 years, lodged an appeal against the council’s refusal in 2017.

Last Friday (March 22) inspector Chris Forrett refused it, stating the main issues as location, living conditions and noise.

It comes amid controversy over the council’s scrapping of their local plan in recent weeks, but Mr Forrett said although “no weight” was given to this, the plan still “seeks to avoid development of isolated homes in the countryside”.

Eco log cabins in Soham lose planning appeal due to location, living conditions and noise. Picture: ECDC.Eco log cabins in Soham lose planning appeal due to location, living conditions and noise. Picture: ECDC.

Speaking when the application was first submitted, Mr Negus’ daughter Philippa refuted the council’s decision.

She said: “If the build is too far away from anything to be lived in then maybe I should help my parents sue for being sold their present home 33 years ago.”

She added that she had “never heard such rubbish excuses”.

The lodges were proposed to be built on a 1.1 acre strip of land Mr Negus owned opposite his home.

They were set to be constructed to an “exceptionally high standard” of an “innovative design”.

A three-metre high acoustic fence would have surrounded the cabins to lessen the noise from the railway, but inspector Mr Forrett said this would “rise to some harm to the rural character of the area”.

“The future occupiers of the development would be unable to open the windows facing the railway line without being subjected to excessive noise especially during night-time hours,” he explained.

“This would be an unsatisfactory internal living environment.”

It was also feared that occupiers would be “heavily reliant on motor vehicles” which would be contrary to planning policies.

“We seek to direct new development to the most sustainable locations, reduce the need to travel (particularly by car) and have regard to the need to protect the countryside,” Mr Forrett added.

Back in November 2017, Mr Negus argued that permission was given to Mayor James Palmer to build a home in the countryside just 50 metres away from his piece of land.

But planners argued that Mayor Palmer’s plans were approved “through a different pathway”.

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