Celebrations as Little Paxton homes plan is rejected and will now be subject of public inquiry

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:14 19 June 2018

Campaigners with Cllr Chapman outside the meeting

Campaigners with Cllr Chapman outside the meeting

Archant

Campaigners in Little Paxton were celebrating last night after councillors voted to reject a planning application to build almost 200 new homes on the edge of the village.

Campaigners in Little Paxton were celebrating on Monday night after councillors voted to reject a planning application to build almost 200 new homes on the edge of the village.

But that is not the end of the matter, as the proposal for 199 houses at Riversfield, off the Great North Road, will now proceed to a public inquiry.

The public gallery at Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) was packed for the development management committee meeting due to the strength of feeling against the plans, which had been recommended for approval.

Little Paxton Parish Council had raised concerns about the impact on local roads and the lack of available school places. There were also environmental issues as some of the land is flood plain and is a haven for wildlife, including barn owls.

Campaigners were angry because in October last year, district councillors refused to grant planning permission, which led to an appeal being lodged by the developers. But just weeks before the public inquiry was due to start, HDC announced the plan was coming back before the council and it was now recommended for approval.

HDC officers took legal advice and concluded there had been a “number of changes and circumstances” since the original decision to refuse the application” and there were concerns that HDC may not win the appeal.

St Neots mayor, Cllr Barry Chapman was among several speakers who addressed the development management panel to express concerns.

“This number of houses represents a 15 per cent expansion of Little Paxton and would take away the nature and feel of the village. This plan is clearly not sustainable and should not go ahead under any circumstances,” he said

Kathy Bishop, chairman of Little Paxton Parish Council, described the plans as “flawed” and said the road infrastructure could not support the number of houses. She also talked about village services and amenities, which she said would not be sufficient for the amount of new families.

St Neots town councillor David Wells told the panel as there was no provision for a new primary school in Little Paxton, children would be driven or bused to other schools leading to more environmental issues.

Councillor Jason Ablewhite told the meeting the plan was a departure from the Local Plan and he was prepared to “step up to the plate” at the public inquiry and defend the council’s original position to refuse the application. He proposed the motion to reject the planning application.

Cllr Sarah Conboy, seconded the motion and pointed out that “nothing had changed” and the issues over transport and education had not been resolved”.

The matter went to vote, and two councillors voted against the refusal so the motion was carried. The public inquiry will take place in July.

In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate in May, Brown & Co Barfords, acting on behalf of the developer, said HDC’s current policy position regarding the Local Plan was in a “complex state of flux”.

The proposal is for 199 homes and 6,970 sq metres of business development land, plus provision for open space, with a new access road from the Great North Road.

After the meeting, campaigners said they were delighted with the outcome as there was “nothing sustainable about the plans”.

After the meeting, campaigners said they were delighted at the outcome and believe nothing about the proposal was sustainable.

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