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Date set for Chatteris town poll on historic meadow

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A date has been set for the upcoming Chatteris Parish Poll, called for by residents at the annual town meeting.

On Tuesday June 7 voters will have the chance to tell the council whether or not they think Wenny Meadow should become a designated Local Green Space and protected from development.

The poll will be paid for by the town council, which has supported the planning application, and a spokesperson said: “The Town Council will be following the set down procedures with regards to the poll. It will post the required notices when these are officially issued by Fenland District Council and it will be paying for the poll. It will report the results of the poll to FDC.

Campaigners want to save Wenny Meadow from development. (56833152)
Campaigners want to save Wenny Meadow from development. (56833152)

"Unfortunately the Town Council has no idea how much a poll is likely to cost as FDC have been unable to give an estimate. The cost will be borne by the council tax payers of Chatteris. There is no budget for a poll as there is no legal requirement to budget for a poll and it is impossible to budget for an unknown cost."

Campaigners argue Wenny Meadow, the former Manor Park of Chatteris, should be protected from development and continue as a open space for people to enjoy.

It is currently the subject of a planning application that will see over half of the meadow used for the construction of 93 houses. This development will form part of the 350-house East Chatteris development allocated in the Fenland Local Plan. Campaigners want the council to save the meadow in its entirety.

The National Planning Policy Framework says "the designation of land as Local Green Space through local and neighbourhood plans allows communities to identify and protect green areas of particular importance to them". It sets out criteria that say a Local Green Space should be close to the community which it serves, demonstrably special, and local in character.

The Save Wenny Road Meadow campaign says they are confident that Wenny Meadow meets all of these criteria.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: "Wenny Meadow is opposite Cromwell Community College and only a few minutes' walk from the High Street. It is a very tranquil place, with an abundance of wildlife including many protected and declining species found at the site."

The spokesperson said campaigners hope to use the poll to send a clear message to the council. "National planning policies recognise that residents need access to natural green space, and that this should be close to people's homes rather than somewhere they have to drive to. The maturity of the nature at the meadow would be hard to replicate, and its proximity to the places where people live couldn't be more perfect. Retaining Wenny Meadow is not only beneficial for existing residents, but also for the residents of the 1,350 new houses that have already been approved for construction across the town. We hope that lots of people will turn out to vote "YES" to Local Green Space designation on Tuesday 7th June."

Residents of Chatteris can vote in the poll from 4pm to 9pm on Tuesday 7th June. No poll cards will be sent to residents, but anyone wanting to have their say must be registered to vote. The rules that govern parish polls say voting must be in-person between 4pm and 9pm, with no opportunity for postal or proxy voting. To find out how to vote or to learn more about the poll itself visit www.chatteris.info

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