LETTER: Sutton residents please take note the latest ECDC Local Development Plan may affect you
PUBLISHED: 11:10 03 November 2016
East Cambs District Council will soon be publishing its latest draft Local Development plan indicating the areas in its parishes which it believes are suitable for construction of further housing. The public will be allowed to comment on these proposals.
Sutton has grown in the last 40 years from a small pleasant rural village to the second largest in the ECDC area due to the numerous estates that have been built.
Houses have been crammed in with few open spaces remaining. In this period there has been little increase in infrastructure or services. The surgery and school are now struggling to cope with increased demand.
The previous Local Plan was only signed off in April 2015 after full involvement with the residents under the “Vision for Sutton” consultation which gave them the opportunity to vote and have an input on how much development the village wanted.
Due to the already large increase in housing, around 30% in the last 15 years alone, the residents indicated a level of 20-50 houses for the next 20 years on the northern boundary plus any minor ongoing development within the current development envelope. ECDC then added the option of further possible development on the northern boundary ignoring the views expressed by Sutton residents.
The requirement for a new Local Plan is at the behest of Government who have now decided that the April 2015 plan does not provide enough future housing and are aiming for about a further 12,000 dwellings to be built in the next 20 years in the district regardless of what the public prefer and despite the high levels of new building in recent years.
For the new draft Local Plan landowners and developers were offered the opportunity by ECDC to propose areas they would consider for development.
Many have grasped the opportunity to make a financial killing. I understand that seven sites were submitted for Sutton.
Linden Homes are eager to build more than 300 homes on the north side of Sutton, and I understand intend to submit a initial planning application for 77 homes, as the first stage of development on this site.
Do the residents on the north side want a further 300 plus homes ruining their aspect and disrupting their peaceful environment?
Failure to produce a new plan satisfying Govt requirements could result in unwanted homes being foisted on the parishes. Democracy and the wishes of residents and Parish Councils are being ignored to satisfy Govt dictates.
A typical example is in the village of Witchford where an additional unwanted 127 dwellings have been forced on the residents after an appeal by the developer to a Government Inspector who disagreed with the level of new housing agreed by ECDC.
The District and Parish Councils are in a cleft stick as they do not have the spare funds to legally challenge the developers as it can prove extremely expensive.
I am extremely concerned at the undemocratic approach that the Govt have adopted with regard to putting more housing in areas where the infrastructure is already lacking and cannot support the current population.
In the past little has been done to provide the necessary facilities in this village. Due regard should be given to the residents wishes. Many roads are now in gridlock at busy times of the day. The heavy traffic has also been shown to be causing high levels of unhealthy pollution in urban areas.
There are already large planned developments in Northstowe, Ely, Cambridge and other likely locations at Waterbeach, Bourn etc. Do we really need more new dwellings in areas where there is a lack of facilities?
With large volumes of new house construction local quality of life will be seriously affected. The disruption could go on for several years.
In many of the villages the residents commute to work in the local towns and cities. The transport systems and roads currently cannot cope at peak traffic times. By the time the A14 has been dualled, if not before, the increase in traffic will have superseded any improvements made to the latter.
Would it not be better to improve the current infrastructure to cope for the current population than exacerbate the situation with further housing?
I am sure there are many other areas of the country, with available brown field sites, which are sorely in need of investment and increased job opportunities.
I have always regarded Cambridgeshire as a rural county. The ill conceived current Govt plans will significantly reduce the levels of green fields covering them in concrete and tarmacadam, seriously affecting the biodiversity of this region. Is it any wonder the range of wildlife species is seriously depleted birds, butterflies, hedgehogs etc to name a few.
ECDC will decide the acceptable sites for development with some discussion with the Parish Council so it is important for residents to express their views.
The councils do have a vested interest in additional new housing since they each receive financial inducements in the form of the Community Infrastructure Levy that the developer has to pay for each house built.
Once ECDC have made their decision on the suitable sites the residents and parish will be able to comment but there will be no democratic vote and ECDC and Govt will make the final decision.
Residents who have concerns regarding what they want in Sutton should make their views known to ECDC and the local Parish council before it is too late.