Government Planning Inspector rejects bid by St John’s College, Cambridge to build 95 homes at Estover, March

95 homes planned for this site in March have been refused on appeal. The application was refused by

95 homes planned for this site in March have been refused on appeal. The application was refused by Fenland Council, a decision now confirmed on appeal. Picture; ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The Government has scuppered a bid by St John’s College, Cambridge, to build 95 homes at Estover, March.

The college has lost its appeal against refusal by Fenland District Council to allow the homes to be built on the 14 acre site on the outskirts of town.

Planning inspector Chris Forrett says the fact the 30 homes are being built at nearby Berryfields - with another 30 in the pipeline - fail to provide "a compelling reason why planning permission should be granted for the development of the appeal site".

Mr Forrett said of the college's plans that they would have "an undesirable urbanising effect on the local landscape and would result in the permanent loss of the countryside.

"In coming to that view I acknowledge that the level of harm which would arise is not significant and that the development of this site for residential purposes would not be significantly worse than any other greenfield site. "Nevertheless some harm would result."

The inspector felt the homes would result in "harm to the character and appearance" of the appearance and would be contrary to the Local Plan. This, said Mr Forrett, works to ensure the landscape character of the area is not harmed.

The inspector said he looked at other issues put before him by the college, including the fact that the town is a very long way behind in the delivery of new homes and there was little evidence o any of these sites being built within the next five years.

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"As I understand it there has not been any substantial housing delivery in March following the adoption of the Local Plan," he said. "However I note that the plan period for the delivery runs to 2031.

"Furthermore little evidence has been provided to suggest that these sites would not be delivered during the plan period."

Mr Forrett said he could understand the benefits of new housing coming to March including affordable housing but felt these did not outweigh the harm "in respect of the character and appearance of the area and the conflict with the adopted Local Plan".

He also had to consider the large numbers opposed to the development that had raised concerns over drainage, highways, traffic, pedestrian footpaths, traffic at the level crossing, loss of agricultural land and infrastructure capacity.

"Taking all matters into consideration I conclude that the appeal should be dismissed," he said.