March resident makes passionate plea to Cambridgeshire County Council not to build homes on Estover Playing Field
- Credit: Archant
March resident Trevor Watson pleads with Cambridgeshire County Council to not build homes on Estover Playing Field.
About two years ago, Fenland District Council produced their Core Strategy document, indicating where new housing, industry, etc ... was planned to take place over the next 20 years.
For the town of March, they allocated housing land for 4,200 houses, including an area of about 79 acres, part of which included the Estover Playing Field to the North East of the town.
When local residents heard about this particular proposal, they objected on a number of planning grounds, such as traffic problems at the Station Road railway gates.
With the increasing number of trains proposed for this line, the area has no direct access to the bypass.
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There is the remoteness of the area from town centre facilities, including the Neale-Wade Community College and, of course, the loss of the well established Estover Playing Field.
The residents objections to this proposal resulted in a petition of 645 signatures and nearly 150 letters/e-mails sent to Fenland District Council.
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At the District Council Meeting on May 31 2013, the matter was discussed by Councillors, which resulted in them deleting this housing allocation from the Core Strategy.
The District Council took note of residents concerns, and also took note of planning officers views that this area of the town was “less sustainable than other areas of the town”, and agreed that housing lost from the North East should be relocated to the south of the town.
Apart from all the planning objections to further housing in this part of the town, there is sufficient land allocated elsewhere in the town.
The Core Strategy was submitted to the Secretary of State, followed by an examination in public, at which the Planning Inspector agreed with the District Council’s decision to delete this proposal and agreed the Core Strategy as an approved document.
In July this year, Steve Count, Leader of the County Council, held a public meeting in the town to discuss a proposal by the County Council to build 99 houses on half of the Estover Playing Field and the remainder to be enhanced for sporting activities along with a longer lease to the Playing Field Association.
His public meeting was very well attended, about 80 residents, due to the vast interest that residents have in saving the playing field for future generations.
Virtually all residents at the meeting objected very strongly to the County Council’s proposal.
They were shocked that after the District Council had deleted this area for housing, followed by approval from the Secretary of State, that the County Council should now be considering developing the playing field for residential development.
As residents, we understand that the County Council has to make full use of its resources, particularly at a time with government cutbacks.
However, March is deficient in playing field space and this area has had a very long history as a public open space. It has been deleted as a housing allocation in the Core Strategy, agreed by the Secretary of State. There are very strong objections by the vast majority of local residents, along with the fact that there is sufficient housing land allocated elsewhere in the town.
We ask all County Council members to fully support the retention of this long established playing field, so that future generations can enjoy its facilities as countless past generations have.
The Laurels, March