Cats crossing the road was not a “significant threat” for development in Soham - but plans are still withdrawn

Plans for 160 homes on the site south of Blackberry Lane were withdrawn this week. Picture: East Cam

Plans for 160 homes on the site south of Blackberry Lane were withdrawn this week. Picture: East Cambs District Council planning. - Credit: Archant

A “cat predation” was one of the impacts a Soham development of 160 homes could have had on the local environment, officials say.

It is not known why plans for the site south of Blackberry Lane were withdrawn this week, but in an assessment of the potential issues – an “increase in the local cat population” was listed.

The assessment was carried out by Middlemarch Environmental on the effects the build by Orbit Homes could have had on the Wet Horse Fen site.

However, the report suggests that cats would not have been a “significant threat” as “the busy A142” would have provided a “barrier” from cats “attempting to cross the road”.

It reads: “The development is likely to result in an increase in the local cat population. In terms of functional impacts, this could lead to an increase in predation of breeding birds by cats.

“However, the widely adopted threshold distance for cats to impact protected sites is 400m.

“In addition, the presence of the busy A142 adjacent the site and a tall acoustic fence will reduce the potential for cats to attempt to cross the road. No likely significant effects on site designation criteria are predicted.

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“Cat predation of nesting birds is not considered to be a significant threat, as the proposed development will be too distant from potential breeding bird interest features of the SSSI and the busy A142 provides a barrier.”

Natural England lists 28 operations likely to damage the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), with water level changes and an increase in residents highlighted alongside cats.

An outline application for eight self-build dwellings was also applied for, before being withdrawn alongside a full application for 160 homes on Wednsday April 4.

Soham Parish Council had also raised concerns about maintenance of green areas and traffic.

In a planning report submitted with the build in May last year, it said: “This the delivery of an important allocated site that is a crucial part of East Cambridgeshire’s housing land supply over the next five years and a high-quality development which would provide a range of accommodation types, sizes and tenure to meet local requirements.”