203 homes approval unlocks Aldi deal for Whittlesey

Early visual for 203 homes at Whittlesey

Early visual provided by developers for 203 homes and an Aldi supermarket in Whittlesey. - Credit: FDC Planning Portal

Whittlesey will now get its new Aldi supermarket after Fenland Council approved 203 homes which formed part of a two-pronged approach to the Eastrea Road site.  

The council has issued notice of approval for the land which is north of Gildenburgh Water.  

David Wilson Homes, through their trading arm Barratt Homes, are paying infrastructure costs that will allow the site to be developed.  

Eight years ago, the site was earmarked for Sainsbury’s and would have also included a country park.  

Sainsbury’s finally won consent but then pulled out, claiming it was no longer viable for them. A protracted High Court case against the developer, March businessman Bruce Smith, followed.  

However, two years ago the court rejected the £7m breach of contract dispute brought by Mr Smith in what had become known as ‘supermarketgate’. 

Lengthy behind the scenes discussions eventually resulted in Mr Smith being able to bring together David Wilson Homes and Aldi to realise the long-term ambition of many in Whittlesey for a new supermarket.  

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“It’s been an arduous and complicated time,” said Mr Smith. “I pledged to bring a new supermarket to the town and, finally, that is what we have been able to achieve.” 

The site will be a mixture of homes, 35 two-bed houses, 98 three-bed homes and 70 four-bed homes.  

Among a long list of conditions attached to the permission are requirements for road improvements, a pelican crossing, a detailed travel plan, and even a section on bats.  

“The development hereby permitted shall not be occupied until at least two bird boxes and two bat boxes have been suitably designed into the scheme,” says Fenland Council.  

This will ensure “the long-term protection of the nesting bird and roosting bat potential”. 

Fenland Council also believes “it would be reasonable to set aside S106 monies for open space improvements on the Manor Field in Whittlesey.  

“This is the town’s key open space, offering car parking, toilets, a skate park, river walks, table tennis, basketball, large playing field and play park.  

"S106 funding allocated to this space would be used to improve the current offer for the people of Whittlesey. People living in the new houses developed by the application would certainly visit this space regularly.” 

Last year the housing firm’s representative, Alan Davies, explained to Whittlesey town council that viability issues would prevent them providing any affordable or social housing.   

He said his company faced the “burden” of transport infrastructure and preparation of the site for a supermarket as reasons for offering little opportunity for section 106 obligations for social or affordable housing,   

“It is not viable to deliver a supermarket and infrastructure and social housing,” he said.