Huntingdonshire District Council set to drop opposition to 199 Little Paxton homes

The Riversfield site at Little Paxton

The Riversfield site at Little Paxton - Credit: Archant

Anger is brewing after Huntingdonshire District Council said it intended to throw in the towel over controversial plans to build nearly 200 houses at Little Paxton.

The council, which twice rejected the 199 homes and business development at Riversfield, is set to drop plans to contest an appeal because it believes it would almost certainly lose and land local council tax payers with a huge legal bill.

The 199 homes is just below the 200 which would trigger higher community benefits from developers.

A report by councillors Jason Ablewhite and Sarah Conboy recommending that the council does not defend its refusal of planning permission will go before the development management committee on July 16 and is expected to be rubber stamped.

But the plan not to contest an appeal has angered Cllr Barry Chapman, mayor of St Neots.

He said: “Riversfield is the unacceptable face of development. By building dwellings whilst avoiding paying a fair contribution to the needs created by the development, the developer’s profits will ultimately be paid from our local taxpayers pockets. Schools, nurseries, health, roads and bridges already at capacity, someone has to pay for these.

“I am more than disappointed with the way this whole matter has been managed. In deciding not to fight the developers appeal, HDC has left its Local Plan as nothing more than a guideline where any developer will feel confident to ‘fly a Kite’ to develop anywhere and without fear of opposition”

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Cllr Chapman said: “How can HDC decide not to fight an appeal when knowing not doing so will mean children will suffer and taxpayers will pick up the bill? HDC is expected to receive around a £2m Levy but not one penny of that is planned to be spent on roads and services in Little Paxton.”

Little Paxton Parish Council member Arshad Khalid said the scheme was now likely to go ahead despite residents’ concerns.

Cllr Khalidd said the scheme would have an impact on schools, traffic congestion and the nearby dangerous junction on the A1.

“The current road infrastructure on Mill Lane and the junction with the A1 southbound is just not fit to accommodate this extra volume of traffic.”

He said: “Adding another 199 dwellings to the area without any provision for local shops or medical facilities does not make any sense at all. In this age of reducing vehicular pollution, the planners are forcing the residents to get in their cars to drive for even basic day to day necessities.”

But legal advice to the council said the authority’s case was “very likely” to be rejected at appeal and planning permission granted, with “substantive” costs.

A statement from the council said: “The decision to refuse the application was made with the clear intention of protecting employment opportunities and avoiding putting pressure on local schools.

“However, in order to avoid spending public money on an appeal at which legal advice indicates that the council is very likely to lose the appeal and have a substantive costs award made against it, the councillors’ report reluctantly recommends that the council confirms that it will not now defend any of the reasons for refusal.”

The council first rejected the plan last October, following which an appeal was launched, and came out it again in June.

James Purser, from the recently-extended Little Paxton Primary School, told the Hunts Post that although it could not guarantee to accommodate all children if the 199 homes were built, it was not near its current capacity and still had around 75 places available.