Council seeks legal fund donations as feared development is approved

PLANNERS have given the green light to a 90-home development on the site of the former poultry research station, Houghton Grange, on the outskirts of St Ives, in spite of objections from the parish council.

Heather Merryweather, vice-chairman of Houghton and Wyton Parish Council, said Huntingdonshire District Council’s development management panel had ignored concerns about law and order, sewerage, wildlife and congestion when it gave outline planning consent to the development.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, which owns the 11-hectare site, was also given the go-ahead for an access road, open space, a balancing pond and demolition of the existing utilitarian buildings on the site.

The parish council had declined to offer a view on the application while it is in the process of seeking judicial review of HDC’s plans to earmark nearby land for 500 further homes. It is now asking the public to help pay the legal costs.

The parish, which fears HDC’s plans for what it calls ‘St Ives West’, even though most of the land involved is in Houghton, will lead to continuous housing along the A1123 between Needingworth Road, St Ives, and Banks End in Wyton, says the district has acted unlawfully.

Its principal concern with the Houghton Grange application is over the traffic the new homes would generate.

Mrs Merryweather said after the meeting: “I read in your paper the problems of the traffic on Harrison Way. I wholly believe that, if all this housing goes ahead on the A1123 between Huntingdon and St Ives, Harrison Way will seem like a picnic.

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“When will the district council learn, along with highways, that it is imperative that we solve all problems before a planning application for sites such as these is passed?” she asked.

The buildings the applicant plans to keep include the Grade II-listed Grange that was built in 1897 for Charles Harold Coote, who was Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire in 1902, and is on HDC’s ‘at risk register’ but will be restored as part of the development.

Others to be retained are Dormy House, two Grade II-listed lodge houses, a pair of recent link-detached house and a bungalow.

The grand tree avenue – many of the trees in the grounds are already protected by a tree preservation order – will be retained, and a new pedestrian link to The Thicket footpath is also included.

The planning approval is subject to satisfactory conclusion of an agreement that the developers contribute towards affordable housing, leisure facilities, libraries, education and health provision and improvement of the Thicket footpath.

INFORMATION: Donations to the legal fund can be sent to the parish clerk at 46 St Margaret’s Road. Wyton PE28 2AN. Cheques should be made payable to Houghton and Wyton Parish Council, and bear the donor’s name and address on the back if a receipt is required.