Proposed eco house at Littleport not good enough to pass exemplar test says East Cambs planning committee

This was the proposed sketch of an eco home by the riverside at Littleport that councillors did not

This was the proposed sketch of an eco home by the riverside at Littleport that councillors did not pass the 'exemplar' test that would have allowed them to break with planning policies. - Credit: Archant

A proposed riverside eco home at Littleport with wildlife pond, a fruit orchard and vegetable beds but outside of the development envelope has been refused permission by a narrow vote of East Cambs councillors.

The district planning committee voted 6-4 to refuse permission at New River Bank, Littleport.

The site is on an field near Riverside Farm and Littleport councillor David Ambrose Smith argued that site was on a piece of land not suited for farming, not accessible to large machinery and had become “become vulnerable to fly tipping and unauthorised occupation.”

Cllr Ambrose Smith said it should be classified as ‘special circumstances’ and allowed and he pointed out the parish council had not objected to “this contemporary home.”

Planning officers reminded councillors that “isolated homes in the countryside should be avoided unless there were special circumstances”,

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They argued it would be in an unsustainable location and rejected the applicant’s submission of their being ‘special’ circumstances.

“Officers considered that the proposal did not represent a significant enhancement, exceptional circumstance or degree of innovation to counterbalance the harm caused by the siting of a dwelling in an unsustainable location,” says a council report.

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“In terms of visual impact, the site was currently a vacant agricultural field with a contribution to the agricultural and rural aesthetic of the landscape. While the proposal would only occupy a third of the plot size, it was considered that the erection of an additional dwelling would create an urbanising impact which would erode the predominantly rural open character of the area.

“Furthermore, it would be visually intrusive and impact on the far reaching countryside views.”

Cllr Ambrose Smith told the committee that “not everyone is a great fan of ‘modern design’ but at some stage Georgian, Victorian & 1930’s homes were considered modern “so I feel that we should not turn our backs on a design which to some eyes is thought to be ‘not like everything else’.”

Councillor Mark Goldsack argued that the proposal met the “exceptional quality” test.

Councillor Derrick Beckett said he did not believe this was the place for a house because of the wide vista of the fen countryside.

Councillor Stuart Smith agreed, adding that there was no point in having policies if members did not abide by them.

Councillor David Chaplin said it would not be economic to farm the land; if permission was refused, it would become uncultivated and a home for fly tipping and the view would not be protected.

Councillor Bill Hunt thought things must be pretty desperate if members were to grant planning permission in order to prevent fly tipping. It seemed to him to be pointless to have policies and then ignore them.

He felt an exemplar home should be truly exceptional and he did not think this one was.

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