Councillors’ second stab at countryside eco-homes

TWO St Ives councillors look set to fail again in their bid to build houses in the countryside.

Councillors Kevin and Deborah Reynolds, who sit respectively on Cambridgeshire County Council and Huntingdonshire District Council, were refused permission by HDC last September for two level four eco-homes on land north of Hillside View, Somersham Road, St Ives.

Now they look set to be turned down for two level five eco-homes on the same site, which is technically in the parish of Holywell-cum-Needingworth, when HDC’s development management panel considers the new application next Monday evening.

Planners say the two applications are virtually identical. The Reynoldses, who live in Virginia Way, St Ives, have deleted a proposed wind turbine, though they may add a reed-bed sewerage system to the proposals, which include solar panels, ground source heat pumps, rainwater harvesting systems and charging points for electric vehicles.

The land in question has planning consent for storage and is currently being used – without authorisation – for repairing vehicles.

Planners say the site is clearly outside the built-up area of St Ives, and no attempt has been made to argue that the homes would meet an essential functional rural need. Instead, the applicants argue that the homes would be more ‘sustainable’ than the current use and would improve road safety by reducing the number of vehicle movements.

Advising councillors to refuse the application, they say the proposed homes’ eco-credentials are outweighed by the harm done in building non-essential housing in the countryside.