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Fenland town's historic meadow not included in planning blueprint document



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Wenny Meadow, Chatteris' historic former Manor Park, has not been allocated for housing in a draft Local Plan due to be put to public consultation in July.

A last minute amendment presented to Monday's Fenland District Council meeting had sought to have the meadow land including in the plan, which would be the blueprint for development in the town.

An officer’s report, drawn up by Phil Hughes, interim director, presented to the meeting said: “It is recommended that an additional site for residential development to the east of Chatteris is included in the draft Local Plan.

Campaigners want to save Wenny Meadow from development. (57335554)
Campaigners want to save Wenny Meadow from development. (57335554)

"Policy LP46 to be updated to include part of and off Wenny Road, for approximately 90 dwellings. That part to be included shall be restricted to the area covered by the planning application currently impending.”

Cannon Kirk have submitted plans to build up to 93 homes on the land, which campaigners have been fighting to save including forcing a town poll on the issue of making the meadow designated as a Green Open Space.

Campaigners were upset when the amendment was added to the meeting's documents on Friday (10) and feared it could mean the meadow would be added back into the strategic allocation for housing.

However, during the meeting council leader councillor Chris Boden raised a question mark over allocating the land after saying only sites that were considered deliverable should be included in the draft Local Plan.

He told cabinet:"As a matter of deliberate policy Councillor Dee Laws, as the planning portfolio holder, and I have been quite rigorous in our focus on the housing element of the draft Local Plan. What we have been rigorous about is deliverability. It is pointless allocating sites and then finding that those sites either can't be or won't be delivered."

Coun Boden went on to say that "having sites placed within the local plan which can't or won't then be delivered is pointless". He said that some sites allocated for housing in the 2014 local plan have been allocated since 1994, with some not being delivered in the 28 years since.

He told cabinet members there was a risk that the inclusion of undeliverable sites could lead to the council not meeting its housing targets.

Turning his attention to Wenny Meadow, Coun Boden said that when an application came forward "it made sense" to include the site in the new Local Plan, but that "it has now been a number of months" since the application was submitted and it has not come before the planning committee. Coun Boden said "this suggests there is still some uncertainty, at least in its current form, that it is able to come forward".

A spokesperson for The Friends of Wenny Road Meadow, which is campaigning to save the meadow for future generations, said: "We are delighted that Wenny Meadow has been removed from the housing allocation in the draft Local Plan.

"Wenny Meadow is of county-level importance for wildlife and a key site for reptiles, with the developer themselves admitting that a loss of biodiversity is unavoidable at this site."

They added that they were disappointed that only a small part of the site has been designated as Local Green Space in the draft Local Plan and have vowed to raise this issue when the plan comes out for public consultation.

They have also pledged to continue to fight Cannon Kirk's plans for the 93 homes.

The town poll held on Tuesday June 7 saw just 1,085 people turn out to vote out of the town's 8,393 potential voters - making the turn out less than 13 per cent of those eligible to vote.

However, the result was overwhelming in favour of the making the meadow a designated Local Green Space with 996 saying they agreed with the move.

There were 83 votes against and six spoilt papers.



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