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Wisbech St Mary Parish Council has issued a formal complaint of Fenland District Council's failure to demand Section 106 cash from a developer

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A parish council has blasted Fenland District Council over its decision to grant planning approval for 76 homes in their village without securing cash for amenities from the developer.

A CGI image giving an aerial view of what the development might look like in Wisbech St Mary, where councillors are demanding a policy change from Fenland District Council. (4945989)
A CGI image giving an aerial view of what the development might look like in Wisbech St Mary, where councillors are demanding a policy change from Fenland District Council. (4945989)

Wisbech St Mary Parish Council wrote to the district authority last month asking for an explanation as to why it had failed to seek money via a Section 106 agreement from Leeds-based Queensbury Homes Ltd, who want to build the properties on land north of Orchard House High Road.

In its original letter the parish council accused Fenland Council of "missing an opportunity to secure a contribution that could have funded further benefits for highway safety in the village."

It also pointed out that the village's school and health care are at maximum capacity and demands: "Would you please explain why you have not secured benefit for the village other than a small contribution to support medical facilities?"

In response Fenland's head of planning Nick Harding,explained government policy is focussed on delivering new housing and allows the council to consider viability when looking at applications and demands for Section 106 money.

He said: "Regard has to be had to whether the reduced level of contributions would, in the face of the development being built out, have such a significant harmful effect as to render the scheme unacceptable. In this case, neither officers or the council’s planning committee could evidence that the development going ahead without affordable or a contribution towards new school place provision would be so detrimental as outweigh the benefits of the delivery of new housing."

He concludes: "I appreciate that the development and the council’s decision to grant planning permission has been unpopular with the parish council and some parishioners, but I hope that my reply has enabled you to better understand the reasons behind it."

However, as a result of Mr Harding's reply the parish council have again written to the district council and this time have issued a formal complaint.

In its latest letter the parish said: "Councillors discussed your response and are unhappy that you have not addressed their basic concerns.

"If the district council continues to approve new development on the basis that the benefits of new development outweigh the viability issues then pressures on, for example, roads, safety, transport, health and education must inevitably increase. This is against the backdrop of agencies responsible for delivering those services having to reduce budgets such that they are less able to respond to demand, an inevitable downward spiral. As demand increases, in part due to new development, the cost will escalate, and your explanation concludes that it is even less likely that a developed contribution can be justified. This seems contradictory.

"The parish council strongly requests the district council to rethink planning policies in order to benefit rural areas which in turn will go some way to achieve sustainability."

And concludes: "The parish council is not against development within the village providing it brings improvements in infrastructure and is sustainable.

"Please consider this to be a formal objection to Fenland District Council, which requires a formal response."

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