Councillor says garage demolition decision is 'not cut and dried'

Garage replacement plan

Residents up in arms about plans by Chorus Homes to demolish garage areas and replace them with housing - Credit: Simone Taylor

A meeting is taking place tonight (February 16) to discuss plans to demolish garages in St Neots.

Cllr Simone Taylor, county councillor for Eynesbury, said a decision on whether the garages can be knocked down and replaced by housing was not cut and dried, despite a recommendation for approval by planners at Huntingdonshire District Council.

The say 14 separate applications by social housing provider Chorus Homes on more than 160 mainly disused garages and their replacement with 30 homes should be given a green light by the district council's Development Management Committee on Monday.

But people living near the garage sites in Eynesbury say the plans would cause traffic problems with drivers being forced to park on streets further from their homes and that they would cause an adverse impact on the community.

Cllr Taylor said concerns about displaced parking had been raised by the district council's Urban Design Team as well as the county's highways department.

She urged councillors on the Development Management Committee to take into account the effect of the scheme on the Local Plan, which guides development, when they make their decision.

Cllr Taylor said the Local Plan indicated residential developments should provide adequate parking for residents and visitors and that existing car ownership should be taken into account.

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"The Parking Displacement Strategy, which was part of the planning application, has not been done thoroughly, in my opinion," she said.

Chorus says the garages should make way for "much needed" housing.

Cllr Taylor said the garages were disused because they had outpriced residents and had not been maintained, with some people renting private storage space instead.

She said a virtual meeting had been held with Chorus and another was in the pipeline at the Priory Centre on Wednesday (February 16) from 7-9pm.

"There still needs to be more interaction and lots of dialogue between Chorus Homes and residents who will be affected by the planning applications, so I am hoping the meeting on Wednesday will help Chorus Homes understand what the community needs," Cllr Taylor said.