Soham eco lodge homes bid fails again - but why wasn’t committee told what they were to be used for?

Robert Negus on the 1.1 acre he owns opposite his home in The Butts, Soham. He's been refused permis

Robert Negus on the 1.1 acre he owns opposite his home in The Butts, Soham. He's been refused permission for two eco log style cabin retirement homes. - Credit: Archant

A man refused permission to build retirement log cabin homes for him and his best friend claims information he passed to planning officers was not given to councillors who threw out his application.

Robert Negus was speaking after East Cambs District Council planning committee refused him permission to build two eco friendly log cabins on a 1.1 acre plot he owns opposite his home in The Butts, Soham.

Mr Negus was earlier refused permission under delegated powers but got a second chance hearing when Soham councillor Ian Bovingdon asked for it to go to the committee for a determination.

But Mr Negus says he was not told he could speak at the meeting (which he could have done with 24 hours notice) and that councillors were not told he planned to live in one of the cabins with his wife and his best friend and his wife would occupy the other.

“I sat there fuming at the committee when councillors asked officers what I planned to do with the cabins,” he said.

“They were told they didn’t know yet I had told one officer four times of my plans and had also told others in the planning department,” he said.

Mr Negus had also taken advice from Mayor James Palmer who won permission for an ‘exemplar’ style home 50 metres away..

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“I did go and see Mr Palmer one night – I knew him when he used to run behind his family’s milk float,” he said.

“I told him my house was for sale and explained what I hoped to do. He explained that he had overcome sustainability issues with his own application and advised how I could perhaps do the same.”

But Mr Negus says when he discussed this with planning officers “they told me they were looking for a grand design – flowing lines and arches. I explained I couldn’t afford that sort of design,”

Mr Negus has lived in his home for 33 years and says he and his family have rarely had any issues with trains going by – one of the points raised by planning committee members when they did a site visit.

“But what’s really bugging me is that I rushed home from work on four occasions to go to see planners and yet they still did not put the application down as residential,” he said.

Minutes of the planning committee show the application was refused as the nearest facilities and services were 1.1 mile away.

Visual and residential amenity, highway safety and noise impact were also mentioned as reasons for refusal.

Oli Haydon, planning officer, said the site was in an “isolated, rural location and it was therefore considered to be unsustainable”.

It was refused on a vote of 10-1.