‘Reluctant’ councillors give backing to plans for 180 homes in Buckden

Pathfinder House, home of Huntingdonshire District Council.

Pathfinder House, home of Huntingdonshire District Council. - Credit: Archant

Detailed plans for 180 homes in Buckden were “reluctantly” on Monday, with district councillors raising safety concerns over a proposed junction, but claiming their hands were tied.

Outline planning permission for the land between the A1, Lucks Lane and Stirtloe Lane, was originally rejected by the council in 2016, but the decision was overturned by the Planning Inspectorate in 2017.

Bloor Homes Eastern's reserved matters application was approved by Huntingdonshire District Council's development management committee on July 16 by eight votes to two, with a number of councillors expressing reservations over the safety of the A1 and Stirtloe Lane junction.

Calling the vote, the committee's chairman, Councillor Eric Butler, proposed the group "reluctantly accept" the application. A recommendation was added by Cllr Ryan Fuller to advise Highways England on the committee's safety concerns.

Chairman of Buckden Parish Council, Councillor Anne Howell-Jones, told the meeting Highways England and the planning inspector "have successfully created a deathtrap on the A1" at the junction with Stirtloe Lane.

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"I don't say that lightly," she said. "A very serious mistake has been made through this planning process."

She said Highways England recognised the danger, as evidenced by precautions taken for its own staff while the work is undertaken.

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And she added that if the committee approved the decision "we will all be complicit".

The meeting heard that Highways England would be making upgrades to the junction and undertaking another safety audit.

The council's senior development management officer, Gavin Sylvester, reminded councillors the decision was to be taken strictly on the reserved matters, and that the junction was not part of the decision.

The agent, Nicky Parsons, speaking for the applicant, did not directly address the safety concerns, other than to note they were outside of the reserved matters being decided, and that she would meet with the parish council to discuss the concerns further.

She said it was a "high-quality development" and "much needed," noting 72 homes will class as affordable housing.

Cllr Mike Humphrey said: "To be honest I wouldn't want my daughter and grandchildren using that junction on a daily basis, or anybody else for that matter."

Cllr Fuller also expressed concerns but said "we do not have the legal powers to sit here tonight and overrule a planning inspector. We fought that battle at the time and unfortunately lost".

Noting the limited scope of the planning decision he said: "I don't think we have any other choice but to approve".

Referring to the planning inspector's intervention, the chair, Cllr Butler, said "to my mind, this will go ahead… we have got to make the best we can of it."

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