Housing application described as a ‘kite flying’ exercise by former district council leader
PUBLISHED: 08:08 06 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:08 06 November 2017
Infrastructure in Huntingdonshire is “grinding to a halt” because planning permission is being granted in the wrong areas, a senior councillor has said.
Cllr Jason Ablewhite, former leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, described plans to build 199 homes and 75,000 sq ft of business space in Little Paxton as “kite flying” by developers.
The council’s development management committee rejected the plan, at Riversfield, Great North Road, despite a recommendation for approval by planners, subject to agreement on the provision of affordable housing, open space and wheelie bins.
Little Paxton Parish Council and St Neots Town Council objected to the plan on a range of grounds, especially its impact on the roads and traffic, especially in the congested Mill Road area.
There were also concerns about a lack of places at local schools to serve the development.
The site already has permission for business and industrial development and planners said that part-residential use would reduce the number of vehicle movements.
Cllr Ablewhite told the meeting that the application was a departure from the local plan: “It is really nothing but a kite flying exercise by the developer.”
He said the authority now had a five-year supply of land for housing.
Cllr Ablewhite hit out at Cambridgeshire County Council as the education authority had raised no objection to the scheme, despite the need for more school places.
“The county council must step up to the plate when it comes to these issues,” he said.
If the scheme had been approved it would have had to go to the Secretary of State to decide if it needed to be “called in” because it was outside the development plan.
Cllr Ablewhite told the meeting it had taken him three-quarters of an hour to travel between St Ives and Hinchingbrooke.
“Our infrastructure is coming to a grinding halt because we keep giving planning permission in the wrong areas,” he said.
There was also concern that the number of homes was below the 200 figure which would trigger larger payments for community benefits.
Cllr Barry Chapman said St Neots had already seen a higher than anticipated number of children because affordable housing attracted young families.
He told The Hunts Post: “The Little Paxton Riversfield development would be a nightmare for local residents.
“I have severe doubts that the transport assessment gave any consideration to the need for hundreds of additional vehicles to cross the bridge or the risky A1 slip road.”
He added: “Avoiding providing services would destroy Little Paxton as a village and the new development would make Little Paxton a suburb of St Neots with no transport connection.”
But Cllr Ryan Fuller said that, on balance, there were no reasons to turn the scheme down.