Well, here we grow!

PUBLISHED: 10:38 22 November 2007 | UPDATED: 13:04 04 May 2010

SOHAM will have a new primary school, complete revitalisation of the town centre, new jobs, and up to 1,150 extra homes over the next decade if councillors plans go ahead. Both the town and the district councils want to see Soham grow as an employment

SOHAM will have a new primary school, complete revitalisation of the town centre, new jobs, and up to 1,150 extra homes over the next decade if councillors' plans go ahead.

Both the town and the district councils want to see Soham grow as an employment centre, reducing its dependence on Ely for retail and jobs.

Development sites under discussion include the area between Station Road and Spencer Drove, land between Brook Street at The Causeway and a major employment site by the A142 at East Fen Road. To accommodate population growth, a new primary school will have to be built before 2025.

In the current local development proposal, Soham is to get approximately 700 houses across three development sites, whereas Ely will have nearly 2000. Cllr Tony Hinsley, chairman of Soham Town Council's planning committee, wants the balance changed. "Soham can absorb much more housing.

"I have recommended in a formal document to the district council that 450 more houses be added to the 700 with the recommendation of no more additional sites for housing development in Ely."

At a heated meeting on November 12, Cllr Hinsley rubbished the district council's plans for retail development in Soham. He told district councillor James Palmer: "You are effectively proposing that retail or lesser development can only happen within 100m of the High Street.

"If that happens, in my humble opinion, there will never be any more retail development in Soham as a result."

He told the Ely Standard after the meeting: "If you have that policy, you have killed Soham. Retailers are not going to move into the town centre when they can't make any money. Ely will always be a more attractive centre for retailers, because around here people just jump in their cars and go, no matter how many houses you build."

But Soham district councillor Mark Duckworth said he was keen to get away from a "landing strip" style dormitory town and build a bustling centre to Soham.

He said: "There is a need to attract jobs in the long term for Soham and make a nuclear settlement. We're looking at the development of a cohesive plan to attract developers and retail outlets and the development of a vibrant town centre to create real economic growth in the long term."

Cllr James Palmer said: "The idea is to encourage non-retail business to move out of Soham and build housing around the town centre. The town has grown longer and longer."

Cllr Hinsley also warned that services should be in place to support new housing.

He said: "Any development in Soham will be dependent on upgrading the water and sewage treatment works, which are already at capacity."

A team of consultants will go out in the town before Christmas to quiz residents on development plans, which come into force from 2009.

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