Residents fight housing estate plans for Mepal
- Credit: Development's planning application / Google Street View
Residents in Mepal are fighting a planning application for a housing estate with 55 affordable homes on the outskirts of the village.
Havebury Housing Partnership wants to build the properties and supporting infrastructure on a 6.5 acre site next to Brick Lane and close to the A142 and Sutton Road.
Among resident concerns is the density of housing on the proposed site, the impact more vehicles will have on the roads and that the development isn’t a variety of housing types, it is solely affordable.
A statement from Mepal Parish Council said: “Mepal Parish Council and villagers were surprised and shocked during lockdown to receive details of the planning application...”
It continued: “Mepal is one of the smallest villages in East Cambridgeshire with 450 bungalows and houses and a higher than average number of older residents.
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“Residents fear it will destroy the quiet and gentle nature of the village completely and call upon local councillors to reject the application when it comes to planning committee.”
Sixty objections have been uploaded to the East Cambridgeshire planning portal.
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Some residents have also contacted the MP Steve Barclay requesting that he intervenes.
Letters from his office on the portal explain he is unable to step in about local planning matters, but has agreed to share residents’ concerns with the district council.
In its application, Havebury Housing Partnership argues the development is needed in the area because it states East Cambridgeshire lacks affordable homes for families.
The Design and Access statement says: “There is a need for 11 affordable dwellings within the village of Mepal with a further 83 households expressing an interest in living in Mepal, as recorded on the East Cambridgeshire Housing Register.
“As such, the proposal will meet the needs of Mepal as well as part of the need identified in the wider district.”
Lorna Dupré and Mark Inskip, two district councillors representing the village, argue in their joint objection that this “does not take into account the other multiple preferences households will have selected” and “it certainly cannot be used to suggest that Mepal is the first or even second preference of 83 families”.
The councillors also disagree with Havebury Housing Partnership’s claims the proposals meet relevant planning policies even though the site is not included in local plans that define where future housing developments will go.
On their point about the scheme’s 55 homes increasing the size of the village by more than 10 per cent, they said: “This is a significant increase for a small and well-established village, and is inappropriate to the location.
“The National Planning Police Framework (Feb 2019) states ‘Entry-level exception sites should not be larger than one hectare or exceed 5 per cent of the size of the existing settlement’.
They added: “This site fails this definition.”
The parish council also argue the proposal is “incompatible with published local and neighbourhood plans” and has tried to deliver a leaflet to every household in the village to raise awareness of the application.
Within the objections on the planning portal, residents also raise concerns about accessing the development, the impact it will have on the existing sewerage works and parking arrangements particularly as work vehicles will not be able to be parked on the estate.
The parish council’s statement said: “This type of development might not be out of place in a city, but is completely out of proportion for such a tiny village and as such represents a bad deal for both existing residents and new ones who would be wholly reliant on cars to access anything other than the village shop and pub.
“National planning policy is to integrate this type of housing into communities, and not to silo it, to avoid exactly this type of poor development proposal.”
The application also includes new access, estate roads, driveways, parking areas, open space, external lighting, substation and associated infrastructure.
It proposes 45 homes of between one and five bedrooms and 10 bungalows with two and three bedrooms. The estate will be a mix of homes that are rented and shared ownership schemes.
Havebury Housing Partnership have also shared details of its public consultation process and lists all communications and meetings between key groups from January 2019.
Amendments to the plans following the consultation include reducing the number of homes from 58 to 55 and amendments to the layout because of noise concerns and the estate’s potential impact on the landscape.