Can the Great Crested Newt halt plans for 40 new homes in March?
PUBLISHED: 16:24 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:28 25 January 2019
The Great Crested Newt - also known as the 'warty newt' because of its resemblance to a mini dinosaur - has introduced itself into the fight to stop 40 homes being built in March.
A ‘safeguard our newts – oppose development’ poster campaign has started to resist planning permission being granted to Clarion Housing who want to build a new estate off Springfield Avenue.
Although Clarion provide much of Fenland’s social housing stock, only 10 of the proposed new homes will be termed affordable.
Clarion want a mix of flats and houses on a site where overhead electricity cables will be put underground and access resolved in conjunction with the neighbouring cricket club.
“The new access will be gated at the request of the cricket club for security,” says Clarion.
However it is the newts that could cause the most bother for Clarion with one objector telling Fenland Council: “While driving home this afternoon along The Causeway I noticed a poster on a wood pole, wondering what this was about I pulled over and had a walk back to look.
“I was very surprised to see it said ‘Save our Newts’ Having looked into it now I would just like to say I think it’s a shame if land owners and developers think it is OK to wipe out natural habitats while a lot of the time we hear talk of conservation, green areas and species disappearing.
“I do sympathise with people who need housing but surely not at the expense of perhaps some protected species. To developers it’s about money, to the newts and other creatures it’s their whole world that will disappear.”
Another objector was concerned about traffic and congestion besides adding that the council needed to consider the endangered crested newts.
Documents on the council planning files, however, indicate March Town Cricket Club is far from happy.
They are concerned about drainage and believe not sufficient attention has been given to the importance of the ditch where surface water will be discharged into.
Much of their lengthy response involves drainage issues and the club wants Anglian Water and the local flood authority to be re-consulted ahead of a decision.
The club is also concerned to emphasise that no public right of way exists across the cricket ground “and we have suffered ever since the Hereward School closed and the Neale Wade expanded with children making gaps in the hedge and fences that border the application site”.
They want a bigger than planned anti-climb mesh fence with security gates to provide security in winter once the bowls season ends.
“This would help remove the unlawful trespass which has caused past vandalism and youth on motorcycles using it as a short cut to and from the Avenue,” says the club.
One of the site owners argues that “there can be little reason to object to a development which will provide housing in place of a disused nursery at the same time giving safer access to the cricket and bowls club car parks.”
But another objector has questioned the time scale for consultation and wants to know “why we have had to wait an entire year to be informed of this and have been given no chance to voice our objections/opinions?
“We are one of the most directly affected areas of residence. Our main objections to this proposed building of 40 dwellings must start with the most obvious issue of all, the traffic.”
Another said that “we oppose the proposed development on various grounds; flooding, traffic, wildlife, access and privacy”.
The objector added: “We have been turned down ourselves for potential planning permission in the past on this land for those reasons mentioned.
“Why if we were refused is this even being discussed? The land has always been fit for equestrian use only. Nothing has changed this fact.
“And for our third objection, the wildlife in this area will be adversely affected. We have deer, foxes, rabbit, ducks and horses, all of which will be affected by this proposal.
“The land has always been deemed inhospitable for building on and as previously stated been denied planning permission in the past for a much smaller planning proposal.”
Comments close on January 30 – the council will then decide if it goes to a committee for a decision or whether officers will decide.