Safety first say councillors as they defer 50 homes near primary school

Concerns over a footpath, historic cases of anti-social behaviour and traffic has temporarily put on a hold a new housing estate.

It is another setback for This Land Ltd, the arm’s length property company owned by Cambridgeshire County Council.

This Land has repeatedly blamed the planning system for holding up housing projects – and Fenland District Council has added to their woes.

The district council planning committee deferred This Land’s application to build 50 homes on a former county council site north of Maple Grove Primary School and off Norwood Road.

Councillors felt the proposals did not consider a cycleway or footpath leading to the school, the most up-to-date traffic information, and historic cases of anti-social behaviour in the area.

Cllr Will Sutton said: “I haven’t got a problem with the overall scheme.

“But as a grandfather of three children who have attended those schools over the last 10 or so years, I have been there during kicking out time and the traffic is horrific.

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“To suggest that a walkway or a cycleway, or even a combination of both, wouldn’t be beneficial to both this development and the wider area is in my view absolutely wrong.

“I am going to suggest this is revised because we have got an ideal opportunity here to keep traffic off the road.”

Cllr Sutton proposed the application was deferred to allow talks with the primary school about a cycleway or footpath.

Cllr Jan French seconded the motion to defer the application which was passed unanimously.

She also requested developers look at the recently completed March Area Transport Strategy as she queried figures being quoted by the applicant’s agent Adam Conchie of Carter Jonas.

He was of the view there had only been one serious accident recently in the area where a motorcyclist had misjudged a sharp bend.

But Cllr French, who has been leading the strategy, said: “I don’t know where he got his figures from.

“One bungalow has been hit twice, another further up the road not far from this site has had three vehicles damaged, one of which was totally written off.

“Last year, on what we say the Norwood Road side, we had an idiot take down five fences.

“It was only the fact it was raining that there were not the usual kids playing there at nine o’ clock on a Sunday morning on their bikes and scooters.

“So, you have not taken into consideration proper highway considerations.”

The Land has previously claimed it was unable topr provide affordable housing on the development of 24 homes with two bedrooms, 21 homes with three bedrooms and five four-bed properties.

Two of the homes will be bungalows.

Mr Conchie said the revenue generated will help pay for public services such as education, health, and social care.

He added: “It is disappointing we are unable to provide any affordable housing as part of this development...

“...we have provided a viability appraisal which has been reviewed separately by Fenland District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.

“Both councils agree that the scheme is unable to provide any affordable housing.”

Cllr French later said: “I think it is absolutely appalling in this day and age that you want to build 50 houses and not contribute to the NHS or primary care trust.”

As part of the deferment, it was also requested a fence is put up to prevent antisocial behaviour is retained for Wake Road residents.

Cllr Mike Cornwell said: “Fifteen years ago when this fence was put up, it was put there for a reason.

“The residents were being terrorised, and I mean terrorised [by anti-social behaviour].”

Fenland’s chief planning officer Nick Harding advised councillors they could give delegated authority to an officer to liaise with the school over its needs for the potential cycleway or footpath.

He also mentioned that the new walkway could be still used by parents who would park on the new estate to access the school.

However, councillors did not agree with the suggestions Cllr French said: “I would like to see this application deferred and brought back to this committee once all relevant concerns are achieved.”

This Land says it offers “a new approach to development, that is more customer and community focused than the traditional UK housebuilder model”