Villagers wield placards in homes protest

PUBLISHED: 13:19 04 October 2007 | UPDATED: 12:52 04 May 2010

PLACARD-WAVING demonstrators will hammer home their objections to Mereham new town on Tuesday when a Government inspector arrives to decide the future of the controversial project. Villagers wearing T-shirts declaring Say No to Mereham and carrying bann

PLACARD-WAVING demonstrators will hammer home their objections to Mereham new town on Tuesday when a Government inspector arrives to decide the future of the controversial project.

Villagers wearing T-shirts declaring "Say No to Mereham" and carrying banners with the same message will be outside the Arkenstall Centre in Haddenham to drive home their campaign against the 5,000 new homes.

They are expected to keep up their protest at the beginning and end of every day of the six-week-long planning inquiry.

During the hearing, international developer Multiplex will come out fighting to persuade the inspector that the new town project, which will include three new schools, shops, a community centre, offices and industrial units, should be built in the countryside between Wilburton and Stretham.

On the other side of the ring will be East Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and angry residents who will be battling to protect their way of life for future generations and stop their countryside from being carved up.

On Friday, Wilburton villagers held an anti-Mereham meeting attended by more than 100 people.

They expressed confidence in the councils' case and volunteers stepped forward agreeing to display protest signs and submit letters of objection.

Campaigners also organised another market stall in Ely on Saturday collecting further signatures for a petition against the new town.

They are adamant that, in deciding the future of the Mereham project, lessons should be learnt from the massive Cambourne new town in south Cambridge.

A report by Cambridge Architectural Research, which involved input from leading planners, found that Cambourne suffered from a "lack of connection to surrounding villagers" and "is poorly integrated into the surrounding countryside".

"Some stakeholders think Cambourne is a lonely place, and on weekdays it does seem deserted," said the report.

"Facilities such as shops, places to meet and sports facilities came later than the houses and this can cause frustration and resentment.

"There is a lack of history, a continuity of generations and a sense of belonging.

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