Campaigners win battle but have they won the war?

A THREE storey block of four flats planned by a housing association in Wisbech was described by a Government inspector as “overly large and dominant to the detriment of its surroundings.”

Steve Taylor, dismissing an appeal by Roddons Housing Association for the development at Tinker’s Drove, he added: “As such it would be harmful to the character of the area”.

Mr Taylor argued that development of the land next to the Oasis Community Centre had been previously established but the 11 homes now planned by Roddons would overlook some neighbours and “adversely affect” their living conditions.

Cambridgeshire County Council own the land and Roddons argue it is “disused and prone to anti social behaviour” and want to build homes there.

“There is a substantial need for affordable housing in the area,” the association argued.

Planning officials at Fenland District Council agreed but when the application went to committee councillors voted against it- a view now supported on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

Ironically Roddons won an earlier appeal which would have allowed them to build 15 homes on the site and Mr Taylor accepted it was not essential to retain it for public open space.

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However he felt the proposal “by virtue of its design would be inappropriate in its context”

Campaigners who fought against the most recent plans hope Roddons will now give up on trying to build there.

Campaign leader John Smith said: “The planning inspector has seen the folly of condemning even more people to live in the most deprived area of Cambridgeshire whilst denying that area of a green open space.

“I was determined to see this open space retained and cared for by a local authority which is concerned about its community and looks after open spaces,” he said.

He believes Fenland District Council can now “work their magic” on the land and accused Cambridgeshire County Council of neglecting the area.”

NIEGHBOURS took campaign leader John Smith out for a celebration meal after news came through of the inspector’s decision. They also gave him cream doughnuts to thank him for spearheading their successful campaign.

Resident Doreen Garner said: “We are over the moon that we got somewhere. John has been such a big help.”

Jill Hutchcraft, of Tinkers Drove, said: “This development would have been ugly and made things dangerous with traffic. I can’t think of anyone who wanted it.”

Fellow Tinkers Drove resident Dave McLuskie said: “We now want Fenland District Council to really develop this open space with trees, pathways and benches.”