Villagers win backing of councillors to stop new homes in one of East Cambridgeshire's smallest villages

PUBLISHED: 19:19 21 May 2016 | UPDATED: 19:19 21 May 2016

Proposed site of housing in Reach

Proposed site of housing in Reach

Archant

Councillors voted to block two homes being built in Reach, one of East Cambridgeshire's smallest villages with a population of around 360 and 140 homes.

Proposed site of housing in ReachProposed site of housing in Reach

Senior planning officer Barbara Greengrass felt that with a provable shortfall of housing in the district and the benefits of the new homes outweighing disadvantages, the plans should be approved.

But the planning committee rejected the proposal after hearing of widespread opposition locally and fears of the “demonstrable” harm it could cause the countryside.

Applicant Claire Halpin of North View House, Chapel Lane, said the scheme had been amended from three to two houses, modern development had already taken place in the village, and opposition had been distorted.

But ward councillor Allen Alderson denied there was “orchestrated opposition” and said about 50 people in the village were against the homes.

Proposed site of housing in ReachProposed site of housing in Reach

He reminded councillors that Reach had Roman and Saxon history and said care should be taken with moated sites and landscape work near the village.

He also said the applicant “owed it to the people of the UK” to have a proper archaeological investigation should permission be given.

Difficulties over an agreement dating to when the original house was built in 1989 restricting only the one house on the site were discussed but officers felt that with numerous policy changes in housing since these were not insurmountable.

Councillor Mike Rouse spoke of the visual and historic importance of the village that was an important area for walkers, wildlife and boats. He urged its rejection and was seconded by Councillor Bill Hunt.

He argued that having visited the area he agreed it was “very special and needed to be appreciated”. The damage, he said, caused in the past did not give the council licence to continue that damage. It was the council’s duty, he insisted, to preserve and hand on an area with such an archaeological potential.

Cllr Hunt said he also took into account half the population had attended a meeting to discuss the plans and that granting permission would be vandalism.

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