Government Minister rejects ‘call-in’ of Barton Road homes plan telling East Cambs Council he is ‘content’ for them to decide

View shows the proposed six terraced houses on Barton Road, the rear access to these properties and

View shows the proposed six terraced houses on Barton Road, the rear access to these properties and to the public car park. Shown on the right is the building that is partitioned to create five apartments. - Credit: Archant

Local Government minister Sajid Javid has given the green light to East Cambridgeshire District Council to build 11 homes on the Barton Road car park, Ely.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government says he is “content” for the decision to be made locally.

Mr Javid told East Cambs Council that he “carefully considered this case against call-in policy. The policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively.”

He said: “The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues. It believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible”.

Mr Javid said the policy gives examples of when call-in was the right decision and having considered Barton Road felt it was not right to call in this application.

He was “content that it should be determined by the local planning authority”.

East Cambs planning committee approved the council’s own application for the homes by four votes to two; committee chairman Josh Schumann abstained.

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Council leader James Palmer claimed objectors were “overreacting” and he didn’t feel “11 houses on Barton Road are going to obliterate the history of Ely. What is there now is not an area of natural beauty – it’s a car park, let’s be brutally honest.”

Quizzed on whether a private developer would have won permission for the same site he told the BBC: “I don’t think there’s any gerrymandering here or any position of doing anything to harm Ely.”

Forty objectors attended the committee with one claiming that the decision to approve the development has killed democracy in Ely.

The application was passed onto Mr Javid, due to the number of objections it has received.

The council hopes to make a profit of up to £1.7million from the scheme.

Objectors fear the removal of coach parking at Barton Road will affect tourism and residents claim it would destroy historic views.

Cllr Palmer said: “We’ve set up a trading company to make money and all money will be reinvested back into things that the council can make money from.”