BREAKING NEWS: Councillors deliver surprise verdict on controversial Croylands development

Croylands, Cambridge Road, Ely

Croylands, Cambridge Road, Ely - Credit: Archant

A SHOCK decision by East Cambs District Council Planning Committee could allow historic Croylands on Cambridge Road, Ely, to be converted into retirement flats.

Croylands protest.

Croylands protest. - Credit: Archant

Faced with a recommendation – overwhelmingly supported by neighbours- to reject the plans, the committee voted instead to defer a decision to allow for more talks.

Councillor Peter Moakes said: “I think this is an appropriate development for this site. I don’t think it is an overdevelopment and I think this site can take these flats.

Councillor Mike Rouse said: “This proposal does not respect the character of the area and I’m concerned about the loss of trees and habitat. The real shame is that this is a missed opportunity, it could have been terrific.”

Councillor Phil Read said: “It is a very large site, it would take a large development on it. Croylands will be lost altogether if something isn’t done with it soon.”

The county council owned former care centre has been provisionally sold to McCarthy and Stone who have put forward numerous revisions to their scheme.

But this afternoon it was the first time councillors got to have their say in public and surprised many by opting for deferral.

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Independent planning expert Keith Hutchinson had been called in by the council to assess the scheme and had recommended its refusal.

He described the scheme as “inappropriate” and disproportionate and agreed it would affect the amenities of neighbours.

However the committee expressed sympathy for developer McCarthy & Stone.

They have now asked council officers to go back to the drawing board with developers, addressing concerns regarding wildlife, overlooking and protected trees.

The plans will then be available for consultation before returning to the committee for a final decision.