Traffic, noise and anti-social behaviour among objections to new youth centre
- Credit: LITTLEPORT PARISH COUNCIL
Residents fear a new youth and community centre in Littleport will bring increased traffic, noise disturbance and anti-social behaviour to their streets.
Letters of objection are flooding into East Cambridgeshire District Council since the plans were announced.
Littleport Parish Council wants to build the centre on two-thirds of an acre east of 29 Cornfield Lane.
The parish council has now issued a statement rebutting some of the criticism and outlining their case in more dEtail.
The proposals show an entrance lobby, a café area and tea bar, a large community hall, an office and toilet facilities.
Grant funding has been obtained to finance the project.
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Currently, the ’Port Youth Group’ - which is run by volunteers and funded by grants - meets in a small room to the rear of the ex-servicemen’s club.
But one resident described access to the proposed new centre through Highfields estate “as an issue”.
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They told East Cambs planners: “It is already very congested as there are a lot of vehicles parked on the roads.”
They also raised concerns about noise issues and potential vandalism to the building.
"I agree there should be some facilities for children and young people in the village but would question whether this is the right location?"
Another resident concerned by lack of lighting and anti-social behaviour argued that "it would seem inappropriate for this venue to host parties beyond times that young children typically go to bed.
Another resident, of nearby Jersey Way, argues that Highfield Drive is the only vehicle access point for the entire estate and “wholly inadequate for a development of this size”.
They told planners: “The route is too narrow to accommodate the extra traffic generated.
“Cornfield Lane is a narrow cul-de-sac that was designed for residential use and not as a thoroughfare.”
The resident also said they were concerned about opening times and whether alcohol will be allowed on-site.
“The proposed Cornfield Lane centre is unnecessary and a waste of public funds,” they added.
Other residents, however, think "the central location of the site will give everyone equal access" and say they "can't recall any problems with the old youth club that was in very close proximity to neighbouring homes".
Littleport Parish Council says the building will be available for hire by groups, clubs and individuals for regular meetings and events.
These could include mother and baby groups, coffee mornings and children’s birthday parties.
The council added that the building ‘opening hours’ quoted are the times that the building will be available for hire – not actual opening times.
The council says they run a bookings calendar in the same way as they administer bookings for the village hall.
If there is no booking, the building will be closed, the council says.
The building will also be used as a base by council staff and other organisations on an ad-hoc basis.
There are also no plans for a commercial café; instead, there will be a small kitchen area and seating in a café style designed to be a "flexible space".
This can be booked for coffee mornings, training events, and meetings.
There will also be a multi-function room with storage areas for equipment (for the youth group or other regular hirers).
Solar lighting and CCTV are also planned to alleviate “dark areas to deter gatherings for illicit purposes”.
The council also confirms that the entrance to the car park will not be accessible when the site is not in use.
Outline planning permission was granted for a community building in February 2007 and Littleport Parish Council has since been actively seeking funding for six years.
Then, in March 2020, the council was able to apply for funding from the Cambridgeshire County Council Think Communities Capital Fund and were successful in obtaining a grant for £406,000.
Extending its youth provision forms part of the council's Littleport Prevention Plan, which was developed with police and ECDC following a public meeting about anti-social behaviour and crime in August 2018.