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Fenland councillor says homes plans for Gaul Road March 'maximise profits and expense of quality'

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A Fenland District Councillor has strongly objected to plans to build 80 social housing homes off Gaul Road in March claiming the site would act as a "ransom strip".

a street scene of the proposed affordable homes in Gaul Road. (7181949)
a street scene of the proposed affordable homes in Gaul Road. (7181949)

Partner Construction Ltd want to build 14 two-bed flats; 53 two-bed and 13 x three-bed two-storey dwellings and the installation of a pumping station and substation and formation of an attenuation pond on a site east of York Lodge on behalf of Clarion Housing.

However, Councillor Steve Count has submitted a strongly worded objection to the plans and points out the development goes against the West March Strategic Allocation (WMSA) which is intended to deliver 2,000 homes plus buisness space, shops, a school, open space and sustainable drainage infra-structure.

Councillor Steve Count has objected to homes plan for Gaul Road. Picture: Keith Heppell. (6822104)
Councillor Steve Count has objected to homes plan for Gaul Road. Picture: Keith Heppell. (6822104)

Coun Count says policy requires strategic allocation to be properly master planned and slams the developers who have argued that doing that would delay or even prevent building.

Coun Count said: "The reason for master planning of a WMSA is to prevent individual applications such as this being ill-considered in terms of a master plan. Approval would seriously damage the master plan ambitions.

"Access to the WMSA either needs to be a new junction onto the bypass, where there are too many already. Or access from Gaul Road and Burrowmoor Road. This application helps prevent that. It is clear that Plots 031 and 030 are situated in such a way that opening up the southern access would be prevented, additionally the site acts as a ransom strip.

"As an individual application there is insufficient funding to relay the electricity pylon underground, which would be desirable. As part of an equalisation process around the whole SA this may be made possible. The small amount of open space would be more useable as a larger combined area under a WMSA master plan."

He also points out that parking provision fails to meet council policy standards and argues the proposed remote garages will lead to crime such as burglary and also could blight the development.

Coun Count said: "This has come about due to a desire to maximise profits at the cost of quality. A WMSA master plan would need to be designed taking note of health and police policies on good place making. This falls short. This application does nothing to contribute to business space, local convenience shopping, a school, and major sustainable drainage infrastructure all part of the WMSA ambitions."

He argues that 14 of the properties are all in flood zone 3 - the highest risk for flooding.

And he concludes: "No doubt the landowners consider their site to be more valuable due to their proximity to Gaul Road. However the loss in value due to areas being in flood zone 3 and the electricity pylon wires overhead probably make this one of the least viable areas of WMSA. I therefore urge them to withdraw the application and enter into meaningful dialogue with other landowners in WMSA. I make these representations as district councillor."

A design and access statement drawn up by rg+p Ltd on behalf of Partner Construction Ltd says the developer has secured the site subject to gaining planning permission for 80 affordable dwellings, which it would deliver for Clarion Housing Group.

It adds: "Partner is committed to securing consent for a highquality development that is well related in scale and form to March, and which accords with the objectives of Fenland District Council’s aspirations for the area."

The statement agrees that Fenland's planning policy aims to ensure the WMSA comes forward in a "comprehensively planned manner".

But adds: "As the Planning Statement describes, attempts have been made for many years to bring the various landowners of the WMSA together without any success at all. The clear outcome of this is that the delivery of the WMSA is threatened by this impasse, which also threatens the prospect of Fenland having a five-year supply of housing.

"The overall conclusion is that the proposal only fails those parts of the policy that require specific comprehensive planning outcomes to be achieved, but that in doing so the development plan - the Local Pan - is nonetheless complied with as a whole."

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