Affordable homes plan for Springfield Avenue March approved despite planning officer's opposition
A social housing group has been given the go-ahead to build 40 affordable homes despite a recommendation by Fenland planning officers to refuse the application.
Yesterday's (Wednesday) planning committee saw members go against the officer's recommendation for the proposed 40 affordable homes on land south west of 1 to 23 Springfield Avenue, March.
The application by Mrs S Newstead on behalf of Clarion Housing Group was for four one-bedroom and four two-bedroom two storey flats, 20 two-storey two bedroom and 12 two-storey three bedroom houses as well as the formation of a surface water lagoon and pumping station and a new access to the town cricket club.
It was before the committee as the officer's recommendation was contrary to that of March Town Council, which supported the development subject to a suitable section 106 agreement.
A report to the committee said the benefits of the scheme, on balance, were outweighed by "the identified harm and resultant policy conflict".
The reason for this is application site lies in the West March Strategic Allocation area and the plans have come forward without an approved Broad Concept Plan (BCP) and in particular did not show how the development could "effectively connect to the wider allocation in the future", which meant the proposal was contrary to council policy.
However, March Town councillors had recommended approval and told Fenland's planning officers that they backed the plans because there was a "limited number of dwellings" unlike a neighbouring proposal for 80 homes on land east of York Lodge, off Gaul Road, which was refused last month and had been opposed by the town council.
Part of the reason for that decision was the proposed development by Partner Construction Ltd went against the West March Strategic Allocation, which is intended to deliver 2,000 homes plus business space, shops, a school, open space and sustainable drainage infrastructure and there was no BCP.
The officer's report into the Springfield Avenue site concluded: "The March Neighbourhood Plan identifies the importance of planning and implementing Fenland's locations for growth in a co-ordinated way, through an overarching BCP that is linked to the timely delivery of key infrastructure and states that with the exception of inconsequential very minor development, proposals for development within the growth locations which come forward prior to an agreed BCP will be refused."
In a statement, issued following the meeting, Fiona Coulson, head of new business for Clarion (East) said: “We recognise that there is an acute shortage of new affordable housing being built in the area and at Clarion we are fully committed to playing our part to address the problem.
“We are excited to bring 40 quality and well-designed new homes to March, which will help local people who are currently not able to buy a home on the open market.
"The scheme has been boosted by £440,000 of grant funding from the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority Board."