Owner of Cambridgeshire building company tells story of four year battle to bring affordable housing to Littleport
PUBLISHED: 09:27 11 February 2019
The owner of a Cambridgeshire building company has spoken of his four year battle to bring affordable housing to Littleport.
John Lee of AJ Lee Developments Ltd said he faced objections, protests and outright refusals from residents and councillors before winning consent to build the homes.
“It’s a case of NIMBY (not in my back yard) because it was refused due to residents and a lack of support from parish councillors opposing the project,” he said.
Mr Lee first applied for planning permission to build 21 affordable houses in Back Lane, Littleport, in January 2014.
However the original application was met with more than 100 letters of objection and 30 signatures on protests from The Station Road and Back Lane Residents’ and Homeowners Association.
Mr Lee, who employs 40 workmen, says he faced similar controversy over 13 affordable houses in Witchford and a further 12 in Willingham. His company has also built eight affordable homes in Stretham and hopes to build 12 more in Isleham.
Mr Lee said: “I believe there’s a great need for these affordables and all of these homes are being built for local people to rent or for shared ownership.
“I would have loved to get the chance to have a new house when I was young; now we can fulfil these opportunities and hopefully do young people a bit of good.
“I provided work for as many as 40 local tradesmen including brickies and plumbers and we all work hard to deliver these types of houses, at a time when central Government is requesting thousands of affordable houses to be built.
“I’m one of the only blokes in the area that builds complete affordable sites. They just wouldn’t get built otherwise.
“My question is why are we getting so much opposition to achieve this?”
He added: “Sixteen affordable houses don’t just fall out of the sky.
“There seems to be a resistance to social/affordable housing across East Cambridgeshire because politicians don’t want them.
“The things that we’ve faced, you would not believe – meetings, arguments and opposition from many politicians.
“We’ve had similar problems in Witchford, too, where our fifth and latest project is under construction.”
The houses in Littleport have been taken on by Cambridgeshire housing association the CHS Group.
Mr Lee plans to build more affordable homes and is looking for sites within a 15 mile radius of Ely.