Football club’s housing plan is met with concern from town council

ProEdge Westwood Road - the home of St Ives Town FC.

ProEdge Westwood Road - the home of St Ives Town FC. - Credit: Archant

An application which could see up to 30 houses built on a football ground in St Ives has been recommended for refusal by town councillors.

An initial proposal, made by St Ives Football Club earlier this year, was refused by Huntingdonshire District Council, after 50 to 60 homes where initially suggested for the site.

Under revised proposals, the football club is seeking permission for up to 30 houses but, according to St Ives Town Council, problems surrounding congestion, parking, flooding, and the access road still remain at the plot in Westwood Road.

The town council’s planning committee recommended that the plans do not go ahead.

“I’ve been involved with this issue for 28 years since 1988 when it was first being talked about,” Councillor John Davies told The Hunts Post.

“My concern is with the sewage capacity and surface water, as there has always been a bit of a problem there. In inclement times the field has got quite marshy.”

Cllr Davies added that he thought proposals were an improvement from earlier plans, but that other issues such as traffic were still a problem – something echoed at the town council meeting on September 14.

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“Local residents are very concerned about the traffic on Westwood Road and down nearly half its length there’s cars parked on one side and they are there all day,” he said.

“Between 8am and 8.30am you’ve got a job to move as parents are giving their children lifts. It’s the same again in the afternoon.”

Cllr Davies also said that more motorists would be encouraged to drive through town and use it as a ‘rat run’ if the development went ahead.

As well as the football club, Cambridgeshire County Council is also a landowner in the application and, keen to move, the football club has already secured planning permission at a new site, as well as considering an alternative.

David Mead, from Partners in Planning Ltd, told the chamber: “The football club have to move, they can’t stay where they are. The alternatives are there and this is the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle, to get planning permission to raise enough money to pay the £2.5 million it will cost to move the club from one side to another.”

Other concerns raised at the meeting though, included the legitimacy of a bat survey, noise, and security.

In response, Mr Mead agreed to conduct a transport survey to assess issues of congestion, and said that surface water would be controlled by underground tanks which slowly released rainwater.

He added that little could be done regarding the bat survey because it had already been cleared.

Despite this, councillors decided to recommend rejection of the application.

A county council restriction is also already on the land, stating it must only be used for recreational use, and must be lifted before building starts.

The planning committee therefore, also agreed that removing this should be done via public consultation, not by the county council alone.

The final say on the application lies with Huntingdonshire District Council’s development management panel, however, which will meet to discuss the plans in the months ahead.