COUNCILLOR Richard West’s letter last week (Apology accepted) does nothing to explain away his comment that he does not care what Godmanchester thinks.
In his quasi-judicial capacity, a significant part of his role is to listen to the views of the local population and to be open minded in his thinking on planning applications.
From his letter it is apparent that he has not studied this case as well as he might have. He appears to have relied exclusively upon the message that Fairfield delivered in their 'closed' meeting with the development management panel and the e-mail sent to the Tory councillors which refers only to financial gain. In an effort to regain some high ground he merely reiterates the Fairfield propaganda about the 'benefits' supposedly accruing to the people of Godmanchester.
The two form primary school will mainly serve the new development and was only introduced after the education department protested. Godmanchester school children will still have to cross the busy A1198. The school is the minimum size necessary, any expansion will be at the cost of Cambridgeshire County Council. The retail sales area is the minimum size convenience store required by law to cater for the new development. Employment opportunities consist of a few units which require tenants. There are several of these empty and available in Godmanchester at present. Potential tenants will go to Alconbury with its tax breaks, population and better infrastructure. The contribution for Judiths Field is a far cheaper alternative to providing green space on site as required for a development of this size. Land freed is available for more profitable housing units.
The affordable housing has been commented on by Huntingdonshire District Council which states that it will go to people on its list with no priority given to Godmanchester people. The extension to the surgery is needed only for the extra people and will severely reduce parking facilities for patients. The improved bus service again is only needed to mitigate against the dramatic increase in car traffic from the development. His comment on the traffic effect upon the Godmanchester and Huntingdon infrastructure has been covered excellently in this paper.
He claims to make his decisions based upon planning policies and the best technical advice. Perhaps he does not realise that the recent Houghton/St Ives legal case threw real doubt upon the legality of the planning policy. The optimum technical advice, according to Cllr West, is available from the developer and the planning department of HDC. This is the planning department that has on several occasions written to Fairfield stating that 'we are as determined as you are that this application will be passed'.
Everything that I have written here was available on the HDC website concerning this application. But obviously in his quasi-judicial capacity, Cllr West did not feel obligated to study this nor to acquaint himself with the new NPPC which emphasises the regard that must be placed upon local opinions.