LETTER: Time for the county council to recognise importance of Estover and so therefore look elsewhere for housing

Late last year Fenland District Council submitted its Core Strategy for sustainable development in Fenland for the next 30 years.

This is a major strategic document which mapped out its expectations regarding employment, commercial and residential development.

Residents in the March North Ward will recall the long and protracted objections to the Core Strategy with regard to Fenlands proposals to identify major residential development on the Estover Playing Field and the surrounding agricultural land.

Pressure from residents saw the removal of the residential development proposals prior to Fenland Council submitting the Core Strategy to Central Government for approval. The result being that earlier this year the Government inspector approved the Core Strategy and upheld the council’s decision to remove the proposals for residential development in the North Ward.

The Government Inspector cited the lack of infrastructure, in particular the rail crossing on Station Road March being one of the main obstacles to future major development to the north of the town.

I suspect that Cambridgeshire County Council still hold the view that development should go ahead on the Estover Playing Field and I would not be surprised if the county council bring forward proposals in the very near future for some degree of residential development on the Estover Field arguing that financial funding is required for the future use of the field for sporting activities to remain.

I would argue that the Estover Playing Field is a major asset to March and it should not hinge on residential development to provide funding to support the long term future of this major asset. I am informed there could be other opportunities for funding if the county council would create the opportunity.

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This field is the only field in March that provides to the public, facilities for football teams to play their league matches, the changing rooms leave a lot to be desired they are in a very poor condition, in general the maintenance of the Estover Playing Field as a whole has been an uphill struggle for the Estover Playing Field Association, their task has been made more difficult since Fenland District Council cut their funding 2 years ago. Sue Clenshaw and her team [Estover Playing Field Association] have worked tirelessly over the past 15 years to administer this playing field and keep it in good condition for the benefit of the town, and they need to be congratulated for their efforts

Given that there is little opportunity for major development north of the railway without an alternative crossing on Station Road. Both Cambridgeshire County Council and Fenland District Council should consider the long term future of this major asset to the town and consider the opportunities for future funding without the need for residential development.

PETER TUNLEY (Cllr)

March North Ward

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