Councillors defer proposals for 680 homes at Littleport after concerns raised about highways

Aerial view of the site at Littleport where up to 700 homes could be built. East Cambs Council offic

Aerial view of the site at Littleport where up to 700 homes could be built. East Cambs Council officers are recommending the scheme for approval. - Credit: Archant

Highways issue have held up proposals for up to 680 homes north of Grange Lane, Littleport.

The planning committee of East Cambs District Council voted 9-1 to defer the application by Manor Oak Homes Ltd.

Andrew Connolly of the county council transport assessment team told the committee that the proposals were “car dominant” and said there had been no proposal for improved bus services.

It was not proposed to have a link to the primary school – a requirement felt by many to be essential – and there were also concerns there were no improvements planned for pedestrians/cyclists wanting to access the rail station.

Mr Connolly felt the development would have an “unacceptable impact” on the A10/A142 roundabout.

Councillor Josh Schumann, chairman, said that reliance on cars was inevitable because of the numbers of bus services that were being reduced.

Mr Connolly agreed but said that there should still be a push for improved bus services. The chairman responded by saying that bus companies were not keen to put in unviable routes.

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Councillor Mark Goldsack said a significant financial contribution had been made to the roundabout and asked if the figure of £194,000 was acceptable. Mr Connolly replied possibly not, because the sum had to be reasonable and justifiable.

The developers argued that the proposed numbers of homes would be a sustainable extension to Littleport and provide much needed housing.

The developers argued they could not be expected to sort out the existing deficiencies at the roundabout.

Manor Homes was 100 per cent committed regarding the cost of the A142 roundabout but should not be asked to do more than was reasonable and required a pro rata contribution and approach.

Senior planning officer Andrew Phillips said the site was part of the proposed Local Plan and formed part of the council’s ongoing five year supply of housing and was considered to be acceptable in principle.

The lack of a bus route weighed against the proposal as it reduced the number of easily accessible methods of transport that people were likely to take.

But he pointed out that it would be difficult to provide long term viable bus routes into a new development and it was likely to be impractical for buses to enter and leave the development by the same route, as it would create an unnecessary diversion. A bus route was also outside of both the applicant’s and the county council’s control.

Councillor Mike Rouse said he found it extremely frustrating that there had been years of talking about improvements to the A142 roundabout. Money had already been drawn down and further monies were to be given for the improvements, and yet work was still being held up.

Furthermore, he said, if the county council was saying that the new development should have a bus service comparable to that to be found in Cambridge, then there was no hope, because Littleport was very different to the city.

The committee will determine the application in February.