Last night, East Cambridgeshire District Council voted to proceed to the next stage in preparing the Local Plan for the area, though the officer recommendation to include a 720 home site on the edge of Witchford was rejected and will not form part of the Plan.
The Local Plan will now progress to its final consultation stage, which is scheduled to commence in early November and end in December. In the New Year, the Local Plan will then be considered by an independent Inspector to decide whether the plan is suitable and if any changes are required.
At the Full Council meeting a revised motion, put forward by Cllr Green and warmly supported by Witchford ward councillors, was passed, which sees the site known as WFD.M1, land located North East of Witchford, deleted.
A number of councillors spoke in favour of the revised motion, pleased that it demonstrated that the views of Witchford residents and the Parish Council had been listened to and acted upon.
Last night’s approval to progress the plan to the next stage was an important one. It not only takes the council one step closer to finalising its Local Plan, but it also enables the council to declare that it has a five year land supply. The declaration means that speculative development on the edge of the district’s villages which are not in accordance with the emerging Local Plan, can be recommended for refusal by planning officers.
Cllr Coralie Green said:
‘I'm really pleased we’ve got to this stage. The last couple of years have been difficult, because so many developers have taken advantage of a loop-hole in national policy, allowing them to submit speculative development across our district which we’ve found very hard to turn down. Today marks an important step in taking back control, so that we direct growth to where we want it.
The Local Plan which is to be consulted upon will, I believe, meet both local and national aspirations for growth and prosperity, whilst protecting parts of the area we treasure most in the district. The plan also makes sure infrastructure, such as schools, play areas, affordable housing and road improvements, are provided alongside the growth.
It has been a real challenge preparing this Local Plan and finding land to meet the requirements of government to grow our housing stock by a third over the next 20 years. We’ve tried our very best to balance the need for more homes whilst addressing the concerns of residents.’
Cllr Mark Hugo, representing the Haddenham ward added: “The revised motion to remove the large Witchford site was the right decision. During the local plan process, I liked very much the close collaboration with the local parish councils and I support this final version of the Local Plan.”
Further details on the consultation will be issued shortly on the council’s website. Residents are urged to wait until the official consultation starts in November before submitting their comments, otherwise by law they cannot be considered.