Outcry over new road which will pass through woodland
- Credit: Castlemore Homes Design & Access Statement / East Cambridgeshire planning portal
Permission to build a road through a small established woodland in an East Cambridgeshire village has prompted an outcry.
In April last year, planners gave outline consent for 33 homes on land to the east of 12-18 Metcalfe Way, Haddenham.
But residents and the parish council objected, raising concerns about an access road being allowed through the woodland.
The application for the scheme’s finer details is being reviewed by the district council and residents say they remain shocked at the proposed devastation of an area which is home to various forms of wildlife.
Lynn Riches, of Metcalfe Way, said: “The first we knew of the original planning application was when it was spotted on a lamp post close to the site back in 2018.
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“We went to the parish council meeting and there was a really big turnout; many people were on board and had strong views about the development.
“Then things went quiet and we later discovered the district council approved the application last April.”
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She said: “We feel let down that the district council has not taken our views on board.
“It’s also very disappointing that the parish council’s perspective has been completely overruled by the district council."
Residents have reported sightings of bats, foxes, owls and other birds in the woodland.
“To lose this will be heart breaking,” said a resident, who asked not to be named.
In response to the first application, a trees officer stated there were several specimen trees “that would be worthy of TPO [tree preservation order] status” within the woodland.
Maralyn Pickup, a trees consultant for the council, criticised the tree and ecological assessments put forward for the application in October 2018.
She suggested and alternative access off Hod Hall Lane be considered to avoid “woodland loss all together”.
However, the access road off Metcalfe Way remains.
Lynn added: “East Cambridgeshire District Council tells us it is adopting policies to protect the environment when it comes to planning and development.
“But it doesn’t feel as though there has been any consideration for nature and the environment in this application at all.
"The copse is a beautiful area and the endless wildlife in it will be destroyed.”
East Cambridgeshire District Council adopted supplementary planning documents to guide developers on protecting the area’s natural environment and climate change.
But these were introduced after the first planning application for the site off Metcalfe Way in Haddenham was approved.
Flood risk, particularly for neighbouring properties and the nearby tennis club, and the road’s actual design are also among other residents’ concerns about the development.
The fact the site was not included in the local plan for such a scheme has also been previously raised.
Castlemore Homes Ltd, based in Hampshire, submitted the most recent application for the site on December 24 last year.
The plans focus on appearance, landscaping, layout and scale.
The decision on whether it will get the go-ahead has not been determined yet.
The company says “the proposed development has emerged from a careful and lengthy site analysis”.
For example, “existing hedgerows and trees should be retained and incorporated into the scheme where possible” and “areas of low-lying land must be safeguarded for surface water measures”.
A woodland play area and a pond have also been added – but the lead local flood authority, Cambridgeshire County Council has objected as it wants reassurance the pond will adequately hold the surface water.
The developers say: “The northern edge of the development is proposed as public space and incorporates a play area.
“Many of the existing trees have been retained in this location and enhanced with the additional planting.
“This protects residential amenity and of dwellings to the north and creates and attractive area for residents and visitors to use.”
However, residents feel these additions and the pond fail to adequately compensate for the loss of the natural habitat in the woodland.
Highways has no objections to the proposals, but says it will not adopt the road.
Out of the 33 homes proposed, six are single storey bungalows.