Battle begins against new homes plans

THE stage is set for one of the biggest battles for years against plans for new homes in March. More than 50 residents have protested to Fenland District Council over the 13 homes Freddie Grounds hopes to build in his orchard north of 33 Gaul Road. The si

THE stage is set for one of the biggest battles for years against plans for new homes in March.

More than 50 residents have protested to Fenland District Council over the 13 homes Freddie Grounds hopes to build in his orchard north of 33 Gaul Road.

The site, which fronts Oxbow Crescent, has attracted mounting criticism from residents who fear traffic congestion, increased anti-social behaviour, loss of trees and wildlife, and a parking nightmare.

They plan to take their opposition to next week's Fenland Council planning committee to try to get the scheme thrown out.

However, both March Town Council and Fenland Council's own planning officers are supporting the proposals.

Hamish Laird, planning officer, suggests the orchard should be seen as a "windfall site" to help meet the council's housing allocation.

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He will tell councillors that the site has a history of planning permissions, notably those approved for the whole site in 1975 and again in 1990.

"Therefore the principle of residential development is acceptable," he says.

Mr Laird says Mr Grounds - a partner in the family estate agency business - need not provide play spaces or affordable housing because fewer than 15 homes are planned. However, he will be expected to make an education payment and this would become a condition of planning approval.

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