New town appeal courts controversy

PUBLISHED: 16:35 01 June 2006 | UPDATED: 13:30 04 May 2010

GIANT developer Multiplex is fighting on with its plans to bring a new town to Wilburton farmland and has lodged its appeal against planning refusal. Now a date will be set for a local inquiry to be held by an inspector appointed by the Environment Secret

GIANT developer Multiplex is fighting on with its plans to bring a new town to Wilburton farmland and has lodged its appeal against planning refusal.

Now a date will be set for a local inquiry to be held by an inspector appointed by the Environment Secretary.

Campaigners for and against the new town will be given their chance to outline their cases to the inspector before he makes his decision, usually about six weeks after the inquiry.

The appeal comes after East Cambridgeshire District Council rejected the company's planning application for the new town, which would bring 5,000 homes to land between Wilburton and Stretham.

Campaigners launched fierce opposition, fearing the project which would merge the villages, would change the face of the area and cause traffic gridlock.

Haddenham county councillor, Bill Hunt, who has led the battle to stop the new town from being built, has written to the planning inspectorate and Ruth Kelly, secretary of state for communities and local government, calling on the appeal to be dismissed.

He said in his letter: "The opposition to Mereham is complete and includes all political parties, all ages, both sexes and many other groups who all cry 'no' in unison.

"A large scale development would completely destroy the character and rural nature of not only the two villages but the whole area.

"The site has been fully examined as part of the Cambridgeshire Structure Plan and rejected by county and district planners. I agree that more housing is needed but nearer Cambridge with better transport links."

Cllr Hunt and the Conservative team have leafleted homes throughout Haddenham, Aldreth, Witchford and Wentworth, and urged support through parish magazines.

He told the Ely Standard: "It is vital that everybody writes and lodges their objections. I am concerned that apathy will set in. This development could happen if we fail to act. Everyone has the democratic right to an opinion."

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: "We continue to strongly object to the proposals which we feel are in the wrong place, have serious implications for road safety and have not been well thought through."

A spokesman for Multiplex, which is behind the development of Wembley Stadium, said: "When we submitted our original planning application we had a very strong instinct that it would be rejected and we would have to go to appeal. We always made plans on that basis. We stand by our project. We feel it is very justified and we will be putting our case around the major demand for homes."

INFO: anyone interested in putting forward their views to the inquiry should write to the Planning Inspectorate, 3/26 Hawk Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN before June 21. Alternatively contact Cllr. Hunt c/o Cambridgeshire County Council, Shire Hall, Castle Hill, Cambridge, CB3 0AP.

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