Fenland’s fractured housing supply opens door for 80 instead of 50 homes at Wisbech St Mary with no affordables

80 new homes proposed for land off High Road, Wisbech St Mary , Cambs. Access is as shown

80 new homes proposed for land off High Road, Wisbech St Mary , Cambs. Access is as shown - Credit: Archant

A developer hoping to build 80 instead of 50 homes on a nine acre site at Wisbech St Mary also wants Fenland Council to strip away affordable housing requirements.

80 new homes proposed for land off High Road, Wisbech St Mary , Cambs. Site layout shown

80 new homes proposed for land off High Road, Wisbech St Mary , Cambs. Site layout shown - Credit: Archant

“It remains the case that the majority of development in Fenland is marginal in terms of overall viability”, says an application by 3D Planning on behalf of Queensbridge Homes Ltd to Fenland Council.

Included in their submission is a confidential “bespoke viability assessment” from Maxey Grounds and Co of Wisbech.

3D Planning says the report “confirms the development can only be viable if it is not encumbered with S106 obligations or the provision of affordable housing and that the developer accepts a reduced return”.

If agreed this would sweep away many of the legal provisions of the first application – agreed two years ago - that allowed for 25 per cent of the 50 homes to be classified as affordable.

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Also included was £12,000 to the NHS for health care, nearly £200,000 for education and £75,000 for leisure and open spaces.

How much – or little – of this might remain forms part of the viability assessment which even councillors are prevented from scrutinising.

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3D is relying on a recent ruling by the Planning Inspectorate to increase the number of homes on the site following a ruling that Fenland cannot identify, as required, a five year housing land supply. This opens the door to developers wanting to build more homes with fewer restrictions to enable the district to regain house building momentum.

Wisbech St Mary Parish Council, which opposed the original application “due do flood risk issues”, will now be asked for their comments on the much bigger application.

3D’s argument is that Fenland’s land supply is heavily reliant on delivery from towns such as Wisbech and March but these are “clearly not delivering any significant development and show no sign of doing so in the immediate future sufficient to address identified need”.

They argue that the density proposed for the nine acres at Wisbech St Mary “is extremely low even for rural development”.

Peter Humphrey Associates has submitted a design and access statement explaining that the 80 homes will include two blocks containing 12 flats.

The firm also says they have designed the homes “to incorporate several friendly

renewable energy systems.

“Many new developments have, in completing the energy efficient detailing of the building envelope, designed out the nooks and small recesses that provide homes for the wildlife which have traditionally shared out properties.

“To seek to encourage the continued presence of desirable and fascinating natural species it is proposed to include in the detailing Swift nest boxes and bat boxes in the upper walls of the homes and detached garages.”

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