Just one supports the Mereham development

PUBLISHED: 15:45 24 October 2007 | UPDATED: 12:57 04 May 2010

At the enquiry

At the enquiry

By CATHERINE ATKINSON Email: catherine.atkinson@archant.co.uk MEMBERS of the public finally had the chance to take a formal stand against developer Multiplex this week following three weeks of legal wrangling at Haddenham s Arkenstall Centre. More than 5

By CATHERINE ATKINSON

MEMBERS of the public finally had the chance to take a formal stand against developer Multiplex this week following three weeks of legal wrangling at Haddenham's Arkenstall Centre.

More than 50 people registered to speak at the Mereham planning inquiry with only one person, Elana Lyadina-Saville who will take the stand later this month, supporting the developer.

The inquiry heard how one Wilburton farmer owns 100 acres of land directly in the centre of the development and has no desire to sell. But a Multiplex spokesperson claimed in front of the whole of East Cambridgeshire's planning committee that the developer had purchased or had agreement to purchase all of the proposed development land.

District council planning committee member Gareth Wilson told the inquiry he knew this was not the case.

"If they cannot be trusted on such a small issue they cannot be trusted on much bigger issues."

Ely's mayor Ron Bradney rubbished Multiplex's plans to make major changes to the city road network. Council plans to extend the pedestrianised area around the Market Square would be thwarted if Multiplex have their way and the tourist coach stop outside Ely Cathedral could become a main bus hub, causing serious safety issues. "These Multiplex proposals could mean great changes to the smooth running of our city. For this international conglomerate, without any consultation, to propose to change the established Ely one way system to suit their profit margin beggars belief," said Cllr Bradney.

"It is clear they are only interested in making a fast buck and moving on, leaving the local council to cope with the turmoil and upset."

Cllr Bradney also questioned the wisdom of building 5,000 new homes in East Cambridgeshire in order to make up a housing shortfall in South Cambridgeshire. "East Cambridgeshire is ahead of Government targets," he said, "so there is no pressure to increase the number of houses."

Councillors had been stopped in their tracks by the Mereham inquiry, Cllr Bradney confessed.

"This speculative appeal is made by a wealthy multinational company with money to burn. Whilst this appeal has to be defended by a small local authority which has better things to do with its limited assets. The officers have been unable to do any useful work for months, as they have been bogged down in this affair."

All those who oppose the appeal may be cross-examined by Multiplex barrister Robin Purchas.

The inquiry will adjourn for a week's break from today (Thursday 25). Mrs Lyadina-Saville is set to put her views to the inquiry on November 23 as Multiplex's put their case from November 6.

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