Rejection of 720 homes near Witchford ‘the right decision,’ say councillors as East Cambridgeshire’s local plan gets the green light

Plans for 720 homes near Witchford have were rejected by East Cambridgeshire District Council's plan

Plans for 720 homes near Witchford have were rejected by East Cambridgeshire District Council's planning committee as the council's local plan was approved for consultation last week. - Credit: Archant

Councillors have hailed the decision to reject a plan for 720 homes near Witchford.

The proposal, which would have seen hundreds of homes built on a site north east of Witchford known as WFD.M1, was dropped as East Cambridgeshire District Council voted to move forward to the next stage in preparing its local plan at full council last week.

Councillor Mark Hugo, representing the Haddenham ward, said: “The revised motion to remove the large Witchford site was the right decision.

“During the local plan process, I liked very much the close collaboration with the local parish councils and I support this final version of the local plan.”

The Local Plan will now progress to its final consultation stage, which is scheduled to begin early next month and end in December. In the New Year, it will then be considered by an independent inspector to decide whether the plan is suitable and if any changes are needed.

Approval to progress to the next stage of the local plan has allowed the council to declare that is has a five-year land supply, which means that potential developments on the edge of the district’s villages which are not in line with the local plan can be recommended for refusal.

Cllr Coralie Green said: “I’m really pleased we’ve got to this stage. The last couple of years have been difficult, because so many developers have taken advantage of a loop-hole in national policy, allowing them to submit speculative development across our district which we’ve found very hard to turn down.

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“Today marks an important step in taking back control, so that we direct growth to where we want it.

“The local plan which is to be consulted upon will, I believe, meet both local and national aspirations for growth and prosperity, whilst protecting parts of the area we treasure most in the district. The plan also makes sure infrastructure, such as schools, play areas, affordable housing and road improvements, are provided alongside the growth.

“It has been a real challenge preparing this local plan and finding land to meet the requirements of government to grow our housing stock by a third over the next 20 years.

“We’ve tried our very best to balance the need for more homes whilst addressing the concerns of residents.”