Cambs councillor applicants fail to convince planners over homes in countryside

TWO Huntingdonshire councillors look to have failed to convince planners to let them build two timber-framed ‘eco-houses’ in the countryside outside St Ives.

Planners are recommending rejection of a proposal by Councillors Kevin Reynolds, a member of Cambridgeshire County Council, and his wife Deborah, also a former Mayor of St Ives, who sits on Huntingdonshire District Council, to build the homes on an industrial site north of Hillside View on Somersham Road.

Needingworth Parish Council, in whose patch the site lies, was split on whether to support or oppose the application.

Professional planners at HDC were in no doubt in recommending that their development management panel refuse the application when it meets on Monday (September 19).

Although the land is currently unused, it has planning consent for storage.

The planners say: “The applicants have not attempted to justify that the proposed dwellings would provide accommodation to meet an essential functional rural need.

“Instead, they contend that the proposed development would, by reason of its environmental credentials, be an alternative and more sustainable use of this brownfield site than the authorised use for storage purposes.

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“It is reported that a combination of the recession and the availability of start-up industrial units in St Ives has rendered the storage use of this site as unviable. The applicants argue that the proposed residential use of the site would be more sustainable.”

But they contend that the site is clearly outside of the built-up area of the nearest settlement, St Ives, and is therefore located in the countryside.

“There is no essential functional rural need to justify the provision of the proposed dwellings within this countryside location,” they will tell the panel.

“The sustainability credentials of the design of the proposed dwellings, combined with the highway benefits of the cessation of the existing storage use of the site, would fail to outweigh the inherently unsustainable location of the site for housing, where opportunities to make necessary journeys by foot, cycle or public transport are severely limited and where future occupiers would be wholly reliant on private transport to access nearly all services, employment and facilities.”