Council accused of ‘throwing the kitchen sink’ to stop village homes plan - appeal reveals hole in Fenland land supply

Syringa House, as it was in the early part of the 20th century. A postcard of the house was found on

Syringa House, as it was in the early part of the 20th century. A postcard of the house was found once during renovation work - Credit: Archant

Two cousins have won a historic battle for permission to build six homes at Christchurch after successfully challenging Fenland Council’s refusal that could have widespread consequences.

The decision has revealed a question mark over whether Fenland has, as the Government requires, a five year supply of housing land.

John Maxey, who lodged the original application and successfully won the case on appeal, accused Fenland Council of constantly changing the goal posts for refusal and “throwing the kitchen sink” at it in a bid to refuse the homes.

For the cousins who own the land in Upwell Road, Christchurch, they can now move ahead with building the six single storey homes that the appeal decision allows them.

But behind the scenes many will be poring over the inspector’s conclusions to determine their approach to future housing supply and the balance of affordable homes required for Fenland.

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Mr Maxey accused the council of ignoring Government policies by insisting on affordable housing on such a small site.

He said the Government had made it clear that “they (the council) should not be seeking affordable housing on small sites…they did not take a balanced view or apply the necessary quasi judicial approach on each application individually, that a balanced and weighted approach would require”.

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He told the inspector that Fenland Council decided they did not want to approve this decision and “have thrown the kitchen sink at it in terms of reasons for refusal, thinking that the more reasons given the stronger their position would be.”

He has lodged a separate appeal for costs but this was rejected.

But it is the Planning Inspectorate’s analysis of available housing land – and a five year supply- that will exercise minds in days ahead.

The inspector, Ian Ratcliffe, concluded that Fenland “has approximately a 4.93 year housing land supply” after looking at the agreed 550 homes per year delivery target envisaged in the Local Plan.

Fenland now fell marginally short of its targets he said that given the amount of work required to unlock development on the East Wisbech urban extension.

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