No more room for new town

PUBLISHED: 15:10 01 February 2007 | UPDATED: 13:45 04 May 2010

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop the Mereham new town are putting the champagne on ice after the Government was warned East Cambridgeshire cannot take any more than 8,600 new homes by 2021. The warning came from an independent panel advising ministers followi

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop the Mereham new town are putting the champagne on ice after the Government was warned East Cambridgeshire cannot take any more than 8,600 new homes by 2021.

The warning came from an independent panel advising ministers following the public inspection of the East of England Regional Plan.

Panel members supported plans to increase the number of new homes in other areas of the county but said East Cambridgeshire's original projection should remain unchanged.

Now campaigners are confident that Local Government Secretary Ruth Kelly will not overturn the panel's decision, leaving no room in the plan for the proposed 5,000 new homes at Mereham.

But they have warned that, although the new town could be wiped off the map now, it could rear its head again in the future.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Bill Hunt, representing Haddenham, who has been leading the fight against Mereham, said: "We have put the champagne one ice and are hopeful of victory in the near future.

"It's encouraging that this panel has realised that East Cambridgeshire just cannot take any more than the previous number of houses. Thirteen parish councils and the district and county council have said they don't want this development. Is the Government really going to go against this absolute declaration of local democracy?

"But although we are confident we can stop this development up until 2021 we have got to be mindful of projected development up to 2031. Will we ever be able to kill off this monster? I think sooner or later it will find a way through."

The plan for the new town between Wilburton and Stretham was unveiled by Australian international development giant, Multiplex, which is building the new Wembley stadium.

It includes at least 5,000 new homes, three schools, leisure facilities and industrial space in the countryside between Twentypence Road, Wilburton and the A10.

East Cambridgeshire District Council planners rejected the scheme but the company announced its plans to appeal to the Government.

East Cambridgeshire District Councillor, John Seaman, who represents Stretham, said: "I am opposed to this development. The A10 is in crisis and I don't want my village life to be disturbed."

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: "We have not heard from the developers of the proposed Mereham settlement regarding their appeal.

"The strategy, likely to be confirmed in summer, proposes the county is on target to deliver its housing allocation without the need for additional developments."

Multiplex refused to comment.

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