Controversial Showfields housing gets the green light at Whittlesey despite opposition from some councillors and many residents

Whittlesey Showfields 220 home application before planning committee. Picture: Steve Williams.

Whittlesey Showfields 220 home application before planning committee. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Whittlesey residents have been left fuming after a planning application to build 220 new homes was approved by Fenland District Council.

Despite concerns from over 30 locals who attended the meeting at Fenland Hall, the district council planning committee agreed that Showfields Ltd’s revised proposal would go ahead. It is subject to ‘reserved matters’ sign off.

Prior to yesterday’s meeting, there had been nine more objections from local residents since the application was heard previously, whose concerns about access routes, flooding and transport were considered.

The development, to build 220 homes (a figure newly reduced from 249) a link road, equipped play area, football pitch, allotments and a nature park was approved -following nine previous refusals.

The applicant, Philip Rose, said: “In my lifetime the flood level has not exceeded four metres, though I am no flood expert.

“I believe that the location of our site will create less of a problem simply on the basis of its proximity.

“People will adopt the position that it’s easier to take children to school on foot rather than in the car”, he added.

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Mr Rose’s plans however faced criticism from a number of councillors.

Councillor Chris Boden said to approve the proposal would only increase traffic in an already problematic location.

He also noted two types of geological risks – fluvial flooding and surface water flooding.

Mr Boden added: “We are creating a problem for the future here.

“It is a dangerous area and will cause an unnecessary problem to solve.”

Councillor Kay Mayor similarly opposed the application.

She said: “Why impact on an existing problem by making it worse?

“There are so many things standing against this application that I cannot support it at all.”

After three out of 13 councillors approved the proposal at first, it looked as though the application would be refused.

However, because the opposing reasons were deemed to be ‘unsubstantial’ and potentially of a “great cost to the council”, those against the plans had no choice but to U-turn their vote.

Following the decision a number of people including Whittlesey residents and local councillors expressed their anger.

Cllr Boden said: “I think what we saw in there was a fiasco.

“It was clear the majority of councillors on the planning committee were against this proposal.

“It is deeply regrettable that officers did not give assistance to the committee to formulate the detailed plan.

“That is why we ended up with another vote being forced upon us, which had been refused just ten minutes earlier”, he added.

Michael Wollaston, a flood warden for the Environmental Agency, said the map shown throughout the meeting was factually incorrect.

He added: “The planning process has not been adhered to because of costs, but planning policy is designed to protect residents.

“The people of Kingfisher Road and Teal Road will suffer and their situation will be far from improved.”

Mrs Jacqueline Baldrey, a Whittlesey resident, said she is furious about the decision.

“It’s a farce.

“If Mr Philip Rose would like to come and live with us for one week in the winter he would be more than welcome.

“When it floods, he will soon see the problems with traffic and flooding,” she added.

“Once again, the people of Whittlesey have been stabbed in the back by councillors from March.”

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