Group calls for halt to Huntingdonshire’s housing plan

RAF Tornadoes pass over RAF Wyton on their last flight before being grounded.

RAF Tornadoes pass over RAF Wyton on their last flight before being grounded. - Credit: Archant

A plea has been made to Huntingdonshire District Council to suspend the process of drawing up its development plan for thousands of new homes and jobs up to 2036.

An open letter from 10 parish and town councils and environmental groups has been sent to the authority’s managing director Joanne Lancaster and leader, Councillor Jason Ablewhite.

It asks for its Local Plan - a planning blueprint for the district - to be delayed in light of “significant recent changes in circumstances”.

The letter, sent this week, says the decision to close the American Airforce bases at Alconbury and Molesworth will ‘substantially’ affect the district’s housing policy.

It mentions “uncertainty about appropriate road proposals”, suggests “a thorough re-examination” of key sites, including RAF Wyton, and talks of a “rising tide of concern and frustration with the way forward in prospect”.

“We consider HDC should now make these issues the subject of full public consultation and accordingly delay the submission of the plan to the Secretary of State,” it adds.

The letter, sent by Abbots Ripton, Broughton, Hemingford Abbots, Houghton and Wyton, Kings Ripton, Woodhurst and Wyton-on-the-Hill parish councils, St Ives Town Council, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, requests suspending the Local Plan and coming up with a revised draft for a full public consultaion.

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Last month, HDC started a ‘targeted’ consultation, involving parish and town councils and other interested parties such as landowners and developers.

Cllr Ablewhite said: “We are going through an additional piece of consultation with those parishes, so if this is the response, it’s disappointing.

“However, we acknowledge there are significant infrastructure challenges to delivering these sites, which, unless we can find a solution, will not be built out.”

He said the RAF bases could not be included as potential sites for development because it would not be known until next February whether they would be surplus to requirements.

He also dismissed a warning that the plan risked being thrown out by a planning inspector, saying: “That’s why we have planning experts.”

An HDC spokesman said the letter had arrived but offered no comment.