Kennett's Garden Village approved - 500 houses and 700 jobs on the way - after three hour East Cambs planning meeting
PUBLISHED: 18:41 24 April 2019 | UPDATED: 18:56 24 April 2019
© Terry Harris
A major development of 500 homes that will create 700 jobs but change the landscape of one of East Cambridgeshire's smallest villages forever has been approved.
The decision to grant the outline proposals for Kennett followed a three hour meeting by members of the district council's planning committee this afternoon (April 24).
The new Kennett Garden Village will now see the size of the area balloon by more than 300 per cent.
The site will create a new community with village square, commercial units, allotments, orchards, a new primary school and recreation grounds.
Despite strong opposition from the Kennett Action Group – who have fought tirelessly against the scheme in recent months – councillors labelled proposals as being “magnificent”, “tremendous” and the “ideal enhancement” to the village.
The meeting, which took place in Ely Cathedral's Conference Centre, was chaired by vice chair Cllr Mike Rouse after chair Cllr Josh Schumann stepped aside due to his long-term support of the application being viewed as pre-determination.
The application was presented on behalf of East Cambs Trading Company for what they claimed as “a community-led housing development supported by the Kennett Community Land Trust (KCLT)”.
However opposition from the Kennett Action Group culminating in more than 150 protest letters from villagers being hand delivered to the council last month.
Terry Frost, from the group, said the scheme was full of “fear mongering and misinformation.”
“These plans have failed to meet several of the criteria for new developments,” he said.
“This has attracted strong opposition and lacks the community spirit that is required by the local plan.
“It is in the public domain that this development is critical to the East Cambs Trading Company.”
However, Joanna Reeks from Dane Hill Farm - which is included in the application site - welcomed proposals.
She said: “We have been part of the area for over 80 years and had a farm since the 1970s.
“We all live within a few minutes of the site and feel that we are in a unique location.
“We feel that this is a development that we could be proud of and have actively been involved in the preparation since day one.
“This will not just be another housing estate but will have a distinctive rural character.
“It will be an inspirational place where people will want to live.”
Lynne McCallum, from the Kennett Community Land Trust (KCLT) echoed Ms Reek's points, saying the garden village would be a “safe and positive environment”.
However, Kennett Parish Cllr Anthony French said the “identity of the village would be lost”.
He added: “It is a small, rural village and the villagers enjoy that and this would have a huge impact on noise and disturbance.”
Ward councillors Julia Huffer and Josh Schumann also recommended the build for approval, stating it was a “sustainable development that would benefit the village in the future”.
After a debate which lasted just under an hour, vice chair Cllr Mike Rouse said he felt the site would “enhance” the area.
“I am under no illusions that this will be a massive change for Kennett but this is an infrastructure development,” he said.
“This will see a new school and affordable housing which I believe will create a sustainable development.”
Cllr David Chaplin agreed, saying: “I feel a lot of the negative comments have been grasping at straws and don't seem real.”
However, Independent Cllr Derrick Beckett sided with the sentiment of campaigners, saying: “I am not convinced that the majority of the village want this.
“There are a lot of aspirations and it looks good but I am not sure if it is realistic.
“Kennett will be gone; it will be no more – it will be totally different. I don't feel that this village is the right place for this development.”
Eight members voted in favour, with one abstention from Cllr Sue Austen and one vote against by Cllr Beckett.
No objections were received from Natural England or The Wildlife Trust.
Phase one of the build will see 240 homes and a new primary school built before 2024.