Outcry as site is boarded off and residents told of fresh bid to build on long established Whittlesey play area

PUBLISHED: 16:31 30 August 2016 | UPDATED: 16:31 30 August 2016

Fenced off: Open play area in Hemmerley Drive, Whittlesey, where residents have been told to expect an application for a house

Fenced off: Open play area in Hemmerley Drive, Whittlesey, where residents have been told to expect an application for a house

Archant

Homes next to a piece of open space in Whittlesey fear a renewed bid to build on it.

Fenced off: Open play area in Hemmerley Drive, Whittlesey, where residents have been told to expect an application for a houseFenced off: Open play area in Hemmerley Drive, Whittlesey, where residents have been told to expect an application for a house

The land in Hemmerley Drive was left vacant in the late 1980s when permission was given to Rose Homes for 31 homes but was left for youngsters to play on.

In 2008 Fenland Council refused Rose Homes (EA) Ltd to build on the vacant plot -a decision confirmed on appeal.

But now residents say they have been approached by a prospective buyer who wants to build there – and mysteriously the land has since been boarded off.

Pary Nightingale lives next door and says when he bought his home in 2007 he was assured it was and would remain open space.

Fenced off: Open play area in Hemmerley Drive, Whittlesey, where residents have been told to expect an application for a houseFenced off: Open play area in Hemmerley Drive, Whittlesey, where residents have been told to expect an application for a house

“We had someone round telling me was thinking of buying this land, if he got permission to build on it,” said Mr Nightingale.

“Next thing we knew there was wooden fencing erected around it. It should remain and has always been a play area. I’m told Fenland Council failed to adopt it – so my argument is that if they failed to do so does it mean I have to sue the council?

“Another house here would be totally out of character.”

Another neighbour said the play area “is an essential part of the original permission. “Fencing off the land prevents children using it and they have taken away a safe amenity space during the school holiday.”

In 2009 the inspector who conducted the appeal noted that despite the council putting conditions on the original application they had failed to lay the site out for children’s use and failed to identify it as a play area in their policy documents.

But he insisted it was “clearly intended to be an open area for the benefit of the residents and was not just a gap reserved for later development”.

The inspector said: “I consider the site is an area of open space that is of public value and it does, in my view, add variety to the urban response of the street scene breaking up an otherwise built up frontage.”

He concluded developing the site “would have a harmful effect on the character and appearance of the area”.

Rose Homes said no one was available to comment.


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