Threats over land use at Whittlesey’s controversial Showfields site

Showfields site plan for new proposal of 220 homes

Showfields site plan for new proposal of 220 homes - Credit: Archant

Developers are threatening to turn an area of open space in Whittlesey into arable farm land if plans for 220 homes are refused.

Whittlesey Showfield site map

Whittlesey Showfield site map - Credit: Archant

The threat was made to local MP Steve Barclay during a meeting to discuss the latest plans for the controversial Showfields site.

Mr Barclay, MP for North East Cambs, supported opposition to previous proposals to build 249 homes on the site - an application which was rejected on appeal

Representatives of the developers Showfields Ltd, their planning consultancy firm and a political lobbyist met Mr Barclay in the House of Commons yesterday (Tuesday) to discuss the latest proposed development of the controversial site.

The Corby-based developer, has now applied to build 220 homes on the site, 29 less than the failed application.

Showfield at Whittlesey site map

Showfield at Whittlesey site map - Credit: Archant

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Mr Barclay said: “As residents will recall, I spoke out on behalf of residents against the original application at the Planning Inspector’s hearing at the Manor Leisure Centre in Whittlesey last year, as did local Councillors Martin Curtis, Dee Laws and others, including local flood wardens.

“It is disappointing that so soon after the Planning Inspector reached her decision against the developer, we find the same developer with another very similar scheme for largely the same land.

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“The developer suggested that in removing twenty-nine homes from the land with highest flooding risk, they had addressed the prime concern of the Planning Inspector. They also said that they planned to allocate a small amount of land for community use, including to develop biodiversity. Not surprisingly, this is the land that they could not build on due to the high flooding risk – a flooding risk previously dismissed by the developer.”

He continued: “The developer has appointed political lobbyists to assist with their communications, and told me that a leaflet setting out the benefits of the new scheme will be circulated shortly to residents.

“The developer appeared to dismiss other local concerns raised at the Planning Inspector’s hearing, such as the pressure on local highways or the increased risk of flooding to existing homes nearby, on the grounds that these were not in his view the principal objection of the Planning Inspector.”

The developer told Mr Barclay that if the scheme does not receive planning approval this time, he does not believe residents should be able to continue to access this land as they currently do and he intends to turn it into arable farm land.

Mr Barclay concluded: “I made clear to the developers, I continue to have concerns regarding their proposals. I did not find the points raised at the meeting by the developer or his lobbyist persuasive.

“The decision on this application is not made by the Member of Parliament. It will be district councillors on the planning committee of Fenland District Council who will decide whether the changes are sufficient for approval.

“I will continue to work closely with residents in Whittlesey to ensure their voice is heard, not least given the significant spending power of the developer.”

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