Villagers present petition amid fears over plan for development
PUBLISHED: 12:03 07 February 2018
Angry villagers living in Bluntisham have presented a petition to Huntingdonshire District Council in a planning row over the scale of future development in their community.
The row began over plans to build up to 135 homes on land off Colne Road and escalated after the council re-designated the village as a local service centre, which residents fear could lead to even more new homes.
The village’s designation was changed from a small settlement status, with limited potential for growth, as part of the authority’s new Local Plan which guides development across the district until 2036.
But residents say they were kept in the dark about the change which came at a time when services in the community were reducing.
Darren Young, from the Colne Road Action Group, presented a petition with 300 names opposing the move to the council and said scores more were making official objections.
“We just want out voices to be heard in proper consultations,” he said.
North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara said a lack of consultation with residents meant there was a “very serious flaw” in the process leading up to the Local Plan being approved.
In a letter to Councillor Graham Bull, district council leader, he said: “Had there been proper consultation it would have been clear, in no uncertain terms, that there is massive opposition to the change in status from many local residents, from the parish council and also from the ward members.”
Mr Vara said local plans were necessary but that consultation was a “fundamental” principle in creating them.
He said the change in status would mean a significant increase in house building, adding: “Bluntisham simply does not have the infrastructure to cope with the increase in houses that will follow.”
Chris Dunn, from the action group, said the parish council had written to the district challenging the “soundness” and “legal compliance” of the Local Plan.
The action group was set up to oppose the proposed 135 houses but had extended its remit to object to the reclassification of the village as a local service centre.