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269 public objections, written opposition from three councillors, town council strongly opposed and fears over flooding but plans for 95 homes on land next to Estover Playing Field in March are recommended for approval



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Despite huge public opposition and objections from March Town Council plans for 95 homes adjoining Estover Playing Field look set for the green-light on Wednesday (12) - unless councillors go against officer's advice.

Controversial plans for 95 homes on land adjoining Estover Playing Field in March are recommended for approval when they go before councillors for consideration next week. (3999111)
Controversial plans for 95 homes on land adjoining Estover Playing Field in March are recommended for approval when they go before councillors for consideration next week. (3999111)

Fenland District Council's planning committee is set to discuss the proposals by St Johns College to build the houses on land north of 75 to 127 Estover Road in March.

The controversial application was originally due for debate in February but was withdrawn last minute after concerns were raised about reports submitted in support of the plans, especially a transport impact assessment, which was three years old.

A report to Wednesday's planning meeting is recommending approval despite the fact there have been 269 objections from the public, lengthy representations of objection by three March councillors\; Mike Cornwell, Steve Court and Jan French and opposition from the town council.

Approval is also recommended without the developer having to pay any of the £34,546 requested by NHS England to increase capacity at Mercheford House GP surgery to accommodate the extra demand the development will create.

Controversial plans for 95 homes on land adjoining Estover Playing Field in March are recommended for approval when they go before councillors for consideration next week. (3999113)
Controversial plans for 95 homes on land adjoining Estover Playing Field in March are recommended for approval when they go before councillors for consideration next week. (3999113)

Nor will the developer have to abide by Fenland's Local Plan policy which requires 25 per cent affordable homes on all development sites on which 10 or more dwellings are proposed, because St Johns College has argued the site would not be viable if it had to abide by the requirement.

Concerns have also been raised about the way surface water will be drained from the site by the Middle Level Drainage Board which is worried about potential flooding.

The report says the developer has done nothing to "pacify" the board's concerns that the proposed infiltration basin is not good enough with the infiltration rate"extremely poor and comparing it against an example of good practice, is significantly lower".

It adds a picture of a flooded field is evidence of this . The board says: "A flooded arable field can be tolerated but flooded roads and dwellings are not acceptable nor is it sustainable."

The town council strongly recommends the plans be refused and says it feels the updated traffic reports "purely attempt to minimise the adverse effects of this application".

It argues not enough weight has been given to existing planning permissions granted nor the proposed increases in rail traffic.

The council also believes "insufficient attention seems to have been paid to the flood risk/drainage situation" and says "more credence" should be given to the opinions of the Middle Level.

It also questions how it can be suggested the recommended level of affordable housing cannot be achieved when the applicant is also the landowner.

"This is an absolute disgrace because it means the applicant/landowner is using an inflated land value to substantiate the abdication of responsibilities," said the town council, which also points out the plans go against the March Town Council Neighbourhood Plan adopted last year.

The 269 objections from the public cover everything from concerns over infra-structure, traffic, flooding, environment and a reduction in house prices.

However, the officer's report concludes that after evaluating everything "the proposal is considered to constitute sustainable development. There are no overriding material considerations that indicate that permission should not be granted and the application should therefore be approved subject to the recommended obligations and conditions."



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