Furious ‘NIMBYSM’ row between two Fenland councillors following defeat for housing plan

Clash between Cllr Will Sutton (left) and Cllr Dave Connor over a planning application

Clash between Cllr Will Sutton (left) and Cllr Dave Connor over a planning application - Credit: Archant

Details have emerged of a bitter exchange between two councillors in the foyer of Fenland Hall, following a planning committee that rejected proposals for a new home in Apple Tree Close, March.

Councillor Dave Connor is a committee member but stood down temporarily to allow him to oppose the application as a private individual.

The application, by Gordon Hopkin, was recommended for approval but rejected on a 5-3 vote after hearing of seven objections including those by Cllr Connor in a private capacity as resident.

But once the meeting ended Cllr Connor says he “had a row” with fellow committee member Councillor Will Sutton, who is also the council’s portfolio holder for planning.

“I suppose you could call it a lively exchange of views,” said Cllr Connor. “We only had words because he said after the meeting that it was NIMBYSM (not in my back yard).

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He added: “Will was abrasive to say the least.”

Cllr Sutton said: “David and I had a differing view, as we have had on several occasions before; a democratic decision was reached and that’s the end of it as far as I’m concerned.

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“If that’s not the case for David then I would assume he would contact me in the first instance.”

Officers will now use the arguments advanced by opponents – that of highway safety- to support their refusal should the applicant appeal the council’s decision.

They had argued that “illustrative drawings” had indicated a new house would not be harmful to other residents.

They also claimed “an executive dwelling” would not adversely affect the character of the area.

“Objectors comments have been noted,” said a report to committee. “However the quality of the private access road is not considered to be a restraint to development along Apple Tree Close.”

They said this was the view of “the planning committee, the Planning Inspectorate and the highways officer”.

The site is to the east of Wimblington Road, March, and form parts of a much larger agricultural area that is zoned for up to 600 homes in the Local Plan.

Cllr Connor has revealed that part of the disagreement between him and Cllr Sutton was over whether lorries could safely access the road.

Ironically on the day members of the planning committee did a site inspection they arrived in a 52-seater bus that had to park away from the road as it couldn’t get near to the site.

It is thought that the 0.2 acre site which Mr Hopkin wants to build on has recently been used by a local bee-keeper.

One councillor who overheard part of the disagreement said it seemed to focus on whether lorries could safely access the road.

“Cllr Connor said he used to drive lorries and knew what he was talking about,” said the councillor.

“If you walk down that driveway I don’t know how they are going to get lorries down there.”

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