April 20 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Monday, December 9, 2013
Planners are to be asked to approve traffic lights at the Gaul Road/A141 junction at March instead of a previously agreed roundabout.
Details have been submitted for approval to Fenland District Council by house builders Cannon Kirk.
The company says the switch to traffic lights – which they will pay for – will restore the viability of their house building programme in Gaul Road and provide greater flexibility in the future.
Cannon Kirk has appointed Derek McKenzie, a former chief planning officer at Fenland Council, as their agent to steer through the proposals.
“Housing conditions have changed significantly since the original planning approval,” says Mr McKenzie. “All options need to be considered in taking schemes forward in order to maintain development momentum, particularly where some changes could also bring wider benefits to the community.”
Cannon Kirk has permission for 135 homes and under the terms of the original agreement was required to provide a roundabout but Mr McKenzie said the extra costs would yield his clients a profit of less than 10pc.
With normal developer profit margins of between 15 and 20pc unachievable this would normally mean permissions not being implemented, he says.
“However Cannon Kirk is a proud house building company and wants to commit to finishing its projects,” says Mr McKenzie. “In order to achieve this in such a fragile market the support of the council is sought in seeking a more cost effective solution to one aspect of this particular scheme.”
He has produced a viability scheme which shows Cannon Kirk would yield a profit of just over 13pc if the roundabout scheme were to be replaced by traffic lights.
“Whilst this is still some way off the minimum industry profit margin, the financial gains are such that it will make a significant different to the viability of the project,” he says.
Mr McKenzie said the traffic lights would incorporate a pedestrian crossing point for walkers and cyclists.
Under the original proposals a roundabout would have to be built once 50 houses had been built or by April 2015, whichever is the sooner.
“As a traffic signal scheme is more cost effective, there is every chance these important works will be delivered on time, if not sooner,” he said.
The council is expected to make a decision early in the New Year.