New town project is facing the axe

PUBLISHED: 10:04 06 January 2006 | UPDATED: 11:27 04 May 2010

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a major new town, which would merge the villages of Wilburton and Stretham, looked set to be given a resounding thumbs-down by planners yesterday afternoon (Wednesday). Councillors were urged to throw out the Mereham development be

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a major new town, which would merge the villages of Wilburton and Stretham, looked set to be given a resounding thumbs-down by planners yesterday afternoon (Wednesday).

Councillors were urged to throw out the Mereham development because it would lead to a significant loss of countryside and was not in keeping with national or county planning policy.

Plans for the town, which include 5,000 homes, a shopping centre and schools, were drawn up by building giant Multiplex, which is behind the new Wembley Stadium project.

The scheme, on 1,687 acres of land between Twenty Pence Road, in Wilburton, and the A10, has prompted a flood of protests.

More than 500 letters of objection were received from residents and parish councils across the district urging planners to reject the project.

Cambridgeshire County Council, the East of England Regional Assembly and the Campaign to Protect Rural England also lodged objections to the plans.

Multiplex has argued that the Cambridgeshire Structure Plan fails to deliver the scale of housing growth required to ensure the county meets the Government's housing target.

It claimed its site was more "deliverable" than alternative ones within the area and significant weight should be attached to this issue when determining the planning proposal.

But officers told members of East Cambridgeshire District Council's planning committee in a report: "There is nothing in the current submission to suggest that this site is capable of delivering housing faster than other alternative proposals and, even if this were to be the case, we would need to balance carefully whether the short-term benefits associated with increasing the housing supply outweigh the long-term harm of locating a major development in an unsustainable location."

Officers were worried about the increase in traffic using the A10, despite Multiplex's plans to widen the road, and felt that the new housing would be too far away from the main employment area of Cambridge.

Members were told a similar application had been received on three previous occasions and it was difficult to see what material changes had taken place.

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