Readers’ View: Core strategy concerns

Over the past 25 years March has expanded its residential areas with little improvement to the amenities it offers in the town, infrastructure has not improved to support this growth. With the exception of the bypass built in the mid 70s and the arrival of Sainsbury’s in the mid 90s nothing has changed to support the increase in population.

Progressively the town has become more congested; the surface drainage system has become overloaded at times of heavy rain fall, it has become more difficult to get to see a doctor or dentist, our schools are already at capacity, yet on a positive note the redevelopment at the Neale Wade College is a major improvement for the town.

Lessons should be learned from the failures of the past, development in residential homes now being proposed in the Core Strategy for Fenland, proposing 11,000 new homes between 2011 and 2031 with 4200 of these new homes earmarked for March, without a detailed strategy to deal with infrastructure development on this scale should not take place, for to do so will see more traffic chaos in our town, overcrowded schools, longer waiting times at doctor or dentist surgeries.

It is fair to say that the provision of infrastructure does feature in the Core Strategy and it is viewed as being a major part of the document, but as there is no foreseeable funding to fund this, it is being suggested that any improvements to infrastructure will have to be funded by developers, which suggest only limited improvements can be achieved.

Residents of the North Ward have been very vocal in their opposition to these proposals; a petition of 569 signatures has been presented to Fenland District Council with 110 individual residents submitting separate letters/emails of opposition. It is proposed that of the 4200 new homes for the town of March 450 will be built in the North Ward on 79 acres of land between Estover Road and Flaggrass; this incorporates land owned by Cambridgeshire County Council and currently used for recreational purposes.

To develop this area to the degree being proposed will have a major impact on current infrastructure; to negotiate the level crossing at Station Road will become more of a problem than it already is, there is no other natural access to the town or route to travel out of town, schools have limited places now,

and will come under more pressure as will doctors and dentist.

A major review of what will be required for the future to support the levels of development now being proposed is required, it should not be left to individual planning applications and an assessment being made at that time to what is required in supporting infrastructure, and then looking to developers to fund these improvements, it will not happen, you only have to look at the past 25 years to realise why we have the problems today, to make an assessment to what will happen in the future without a strategy for the provision of improved infrastructure and appropriate funding.

The Core Strategy comments on the residents of Fenland being passionate about the countryside and environment, and for them then to be criticised for opposing these development proposals is not the way forward in gaining the acceptance of the March North Ward residents.

I support the residents of the March North Ward in their opposition to these proposals and will do so until such time as these proposals are changed, and we have a meaningful strategy for improved infrastructure.

Peter Tunley

Elected Member March North Ward

Fenland District Council