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Homes plans for Gaul Road in March are refused by Fenland District Council

Plans for 80 social housing homes which prompted a councillor to write a strong letter of objection have been refused by Fenland's planning officers.

A street scene of the proposed affordable homes in Gaul Road, which have been refused by planners.
A street scene of the proposed affordable homes in Gaul Road, which have been refused by planners.

Councillor Steve Count strongly opposed the application by Partner Construction Ltd, who wanted to build 14 two-bed flats, 53 two-bed and 13x three bed two-storey dwellings along with the installation of a pumping station and substation together with the formation of an attenuation pond on the the site east of York Lodge, off Gaul Road in March.

He claimed the site would act as a "ransom strip" for the provision of a southern access and argued the development 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.

He said policy requires strategic allocation to be properly master planned and slammed the developers who have argued that doing that would delay or even prevent building.

Adding: "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 mas

He also pointed out that parking provision fails to meet council policy standards and argues the proposed remote garages will lead to crime such as burglary and 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, said he was making the comments as a district councillor, and also argued 14 of the properties are all in flood zone 3 - the highest risk for flooding.

All his points were taken on by planning officers who agreed with much of Coun Count's assessment of the application.

As a result the plans were rejected and the refusal notice outlined why.

It said the fact 15 of the 80 dwellings would be in flood zone 2 and 3 "without sound justification" went against planning policy and said it would result in a development "which places people and property at a greater risk of flooding than is necessary".

The fact the application ignored the need for an overarching Broad Concept Plan (BCP) linked to the timely delivery of key infrastructure was also highlighted as a reason to refuse.

It said: "March Neighbourhood Plan identifies the importance of planning and implementing Fenland's locations for growth in a co-ordinated way, through an overarching BCP 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."

Adding the proposed development was not minor or inconsequential.

The refusal notice also said the application was accompanied by a Transport Assessment which includes outdated and insufficient information to demonstrate that the development would be acceptable in transport terms.

And it concludes: "The application was clearly contrary to the relevant planning policies and despite the local planning authority working positively and proactively with the applicants there was no potential to overcome these problems through the scheme as proposed."

A design and access statement drawn up by rg+p Ltd on behalf of Partner Construction Ltd agreesFenland'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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