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'They are selling the rate payers of March short' claims over Fenland's decision to cut developer's payments on homes plans

A decision to let a developer off a legal agreement concerning Section 106 payments as part of planning permission granted five years ago has been described as a 'slap in the face' for ratepayers.

Mr S Harwin applied to Fenland District Council for a variation of a legal agreement concerning developer contributions entered into at the outline planning stage, when permission was granted for 30 homes on land south of Berryfield in March.

On Wednesday Fenland's planning committee agreed that instead of ensuring 25 per cent of the homes were affordable housing, and paying a total of £77,720 towards public open space, libraries, lifelong learning and railway improvements, plus a contribution to education, Mr Harwin will now only have to pay a £10,000 contribution to Estover Playing field.

A developer has been allowed to build homes with only a £10,000 contribution to local amenities in March. (28075466)
A developer has been allowed to build homes with only a £10,000 contribution to local amenities in March. (28075466)

A report to the meeting said a viability assessment together with a reduced offer had been submitted and considered by Fenland's senior planning obligations officer.

The report said the assessment "demonstrates that the contributions agreed result in viability issues relating to the delivery of the scheme".

As a result the committee agreed to the reduced payment of £10,000 for public open space, which would be used towards the ongoing development of Estover Playing Field.

However, neighbouring residents who had strongly opposed the development when it was originally granted planning permission in 2015 have accused councillors of selling ratepayers of March short, with their decision.

John Tuerena, said: "For the proposed development for 28 dwellings,the developers are contributing £10, 000 to Estover Playing Field. A noble gesture maybe? Unfortunately this is just a fraction of the actual amount of money that should be paid by the developer.

"As a rate payer will the Fenland District Council allow me to pay just a faction of my rates? I don’t think so?

"They are selling the rate payers of March short because this sets a precedent for future developers to 'get away' with the financial obligations to our community. Plus it is an insult to all the residents who have objected to this development from day one."

Mrs B Everett, who attended the meeting, said: "I have to say that I was very surprised and disgusted at how easily and quickly with hardly any debate, the plans to build 28, mostly large houses, at the end of Berryfield were passed without having to have any provision for open space , any social housing, and there’s not even going to be a proper footpath at the entrance of the new estate, surely that’s not safe .

"There has also been no thought for all the wildlife which has been proven to live there. Whatever happened to The Local Plan which stated no building needed to be done on the North East Side of March ie. Estover and Berryfield.

"So when you’re re stuck in the traffic congestion especially at the Railway gates on Elm Road, you can blame the planning committee of our district council."

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