Residents warned the clock is ticking to object to housing on 22 acres of open space

The site for 57 homes is off Lynn Road, and forms part of the former MoD site bought by the council

The site for 57 homes is off Lynn Road, and forms part of the former MoD site bought by the council. “It’s fair to say there is quite a lot of strong feeling here,” said one resident. - Credit: Archant

Residents claim that a proposal by East Cambridgeshire District Council to build 57 homes on a 22 acre site in Ely will lose open space that has been available to the city for 40 years.

The site is on the northern edge of the city, off Lynn Road, and forms part of the former MoD site at the Princess of Wales hospital bought by the council.

“It’s fair to say there is quite a lot of strong feeling here,” said one resident.

The application has been prepared by the council’s trading arm and objections must be sent by September 15.

The plans went to a public consultation in January but it is only recently that a newly formed residents’ group has been formed to object.

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Palace Green Homes unveiled details of the housing at a consultation in the last two weeks of January. Letters were sent to 200 residents inviting them to a public exhibition.

That event, held in Heaton Drive on January 23, was attended by 51 people and 26 feedback responses were received.

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“The general tone of the engagement from local residents was positive and inquisitive,” says Palace Green Homes in a summary prepared for planners.

The company says the proposed new homes will use modular off-site construction and will be “one of the first of its kind in East Cambridgeshire”.

The site is east of the housing estate built by Wilcon Homes in the early 90’s.

Residents believe the pandemic has meant some have taken their eye off the plans which are separate from the renovation and sale of the adjacent former MoD housing site that the council began work on last year.

Residents say their objections will focus on the fact that the city is already well supplied for with the 3,000 homes going up at Ely North.

They are also concerned about vehicle access from Lynn Road.

But it is the likelihood of a loss of open spaces that concerns many.

“This has been an invaluable open space facility established for at least 40 years,” say protestors.

They claim it will breach Government directives that they claim forbid development “that would result in the loss of existing open space, save in very limited circumstance”.

Local Lib Dem councillor Alison Whelan says she will be organising a Zoom meeting to co-ordinate the views of residents.

And a protest letter being circulated by two other residents is aimed at bringing together objections.

“We feel very strongly about preventing the development of this land,” says their letter.

“Should it go ahead unchecked there is a strong likelihood of your daily lives being impacted on.

“The dead line for public consultation is September 15 so we need to organise ourselves fairly quickly.”

They say their objections will include conservation, loss of open space, noise pollution, lack of infrastructure, and access not designed for more traffic and emergency vehicles.

Palace Green Homes wants permission for 20 flats in five two-storey blocks, 15 two-bedroom houses and 18 three-bedroom houses with extra living space in the roof space. A third of the homes will be classed as affordable to meeting council policies.

The housing department at East Cambs, in a response to the application, reminds Palace Green Homes of the need to ensure open space is provided.

“This could potentially be provided off site by making provision ns on the existing open space the south, on Williams Close,” they say.

They also want to “encourage” Palace Green Homes to supply youth outdoor equipment, ensure biodiversity and tree planting,

“This will be a real opportunity to enhance that area of land provide something valuable to the community,” they add.

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