St John’s launches appeal to overturn Fenland Council refusal of permission for 95 homes at Estover, March

St John's College is appealing against the refusal of Fenland Council to allow them to build 95 home

St John's College is appealing against the refusal of Fenland Council to allow them to build 95 homes at Estover. The appeal will be heard by written representation. Picture; ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A Cambridge college refused to take no for an answer and has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate to allow it to build 95 homes in March.

St John’s College says its application – first submitted in 2015 but rejected last year –ought to have been approved by Fenland District Council planning committee.

The college says the homes had the support of planning officers and was only rejected by councillors for “being to the detriment of the area”.

The 14 acre site is bound by Estover Road and Creek Road and St John’s says it did everything to accord with council policies.

“The proposal will not result in an unacceptable impact on highway safety and the residual cumulative impacts on the road network will not be severe,” it says.

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St John’s is also contesting advice from the Middle Level that supported refusal in respect of maintenance and management of the surface water.

The Middle Level, says the college, “are not statutory consultees” but the local flood authority, which are, had no objection.

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St John’s goes into some detail about the £11,321 per plot required by the council for section 106 (community benefit) obligations and the requirement for affordable housing. They felt they a viability assessment had done enough to satisfy the council and say they will settle obligations within the appeal timetable.

St John’s is relying heavily on assessments which show March is “a very long way” from meeting its housing target of 4,200 new homes.

“The appeal proposal will deliver much needed homes in the town and will help to contribute towards the economic success of the town and district,” says the college.

Delivering up to 95 new homes will benefit a town where recent growth has been limited, argues the college, and the site is within “one of the most sustainable towns in the district”.

Other than the loss of a small parcel of agricultural land - “and it is inevitable agricultural land will be lost to allow for future development” – 95 homes would result in no significant material harm to the environment.

Its “wide range of positive environmental benefits would outweigh the harm caused,” claims St John’s.

March Town Council says it “strongly recommends refusal” on traffic and access grounds.

Councillor Stephen Court said the town council’s view is “in line with the 266 objectors in that there is insufficient infrastructure in place“.

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