Margins tight on controversial new estate says housebuilder

A buzzard captured in flight over Wenny Meadows, Chatteris, where a bid to build 93 homes is causing a storm. 

A buzzard captured in flight over Wenny Meadows, Chatteris, where a bid to build 93 homes is causing a storm. - Credit: Save Wenny Campaign

Cannon Kirk has explained to Fenland Council that even if permission is given for 93 x £180-£400,000 homes at Chatteris, it can only offer 10 per cent of them for affordable housing.  

A 69-page viability assessment put forward on their behalf by Maxey Grounds says a profit level of 17.5 per cent is the industry norm for market housing and six per cent for housing. 

“This is considered to be the minimum level of profit a developer would accept to undertake this scheme,” says the report. 

Outlining the infrastructure and others involved, Grounds Maxey says part of Wenny Meadows earmarked for the housing cannot be built on because of its “archaeological importance”. 

"if the affordable housing and cash S106 contributions were reduced to the proposed levels in the pending new Local Plan, the site is still not viable,” says Maxey Grounds. 

“Our recommendation is that the developer can deliver the scheme with 10 per cent affordable housing provision and a S106 cash payment of £28,000 whilst still maintaining an appropriate profit level.” 

The 500-member strong Save Wenny Road Meadow campaign, is stepping up opposition to the planning application now before the council. 

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“This is the first stage of a wider plan that will see 350 new homes built in the East of Chatteris,” said a spokesperson. 

“The application only covers the 93 homes on the historic, tree-rich Wenny Road Meadow, with no guarantee that the 250 additional homes on adjacent land will ever materialise.  

“The new plans also appear to increase the number of homes being built on the meadow from the indicative plans included in the Broad Concept Plan previously approved in 2017.” 

The group says permissions elsewhere in the town for 1,250 would, on their own, increase by nearly 30 per cent the population. 

It wants Fenland Council to launch a public consultation on the Cannon Kirk application which they say was promised four years ago. 

“The public consultation relied upon by Cannon Kirk in this application is now more than five years old,” said the spokesperson. 

“The context of this development has changed a great deal since 2016. 

“Wenny Road Meadow, which has been used by walkers for decades with the apparent implicit permission of the landowner, is one of the only remaining natural green spaces in Chatteris and by far the largest.  

“Countless residents discovered Wenny Road Meadow during lockdown.” 

The spokesperson added: “Events of the last 18 months provide an even more compelling reason to once again ask residents whether they believe that 93 new homes are the most appropriate use for this very special place.”