17:12 Thursday 14th January 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
DAVE WEBSTER: South Cambridgeshire District Council have refused planning permission for 144 homes in Waterbeach. The decision was made when a planning committee met yesterday. That committee also turned down another planning application for up to 76 homes in Foxton, 40% of which would have been affordable housing. Well with the pressure on housing in South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge at unprecedented levels, let’s find out why, because we’re being told that new homes need to be built. In fact David Cameron recently announced that that’s exactly what he would be doing and is completely behind the project, especially affordable homes. Well councillor Lynda Harford, who’s the Chairman of the Planning Committee on South Cambridgeshire District Council and also represents Cottenham joins us now. Good afternoon Lynda.
LYNDA HARFORD: Good afternoon Dave
“..they have these loopholes as you call them to jump through and bring forward these speculative applications.”
DAVE WEBSTER: So these planning applications, let’s deal with the one in Waterbeach first of all. Why were those 144 homes refused?
LYNDA HARFORD: You will recall that the original application for that site was refused by Planning Committee, who were trying at that point to support a South Cambs policy, or draft policy in the Local Plan, which wanted that piece of land to remain green open space, to protect the integrity of Waterbeach village from any huge new development. So those original 90 were given permission at appeal by an Inspector. Yesterday Committee was asked to consider a new proposal from the developer, increasing the amount of housing there by some 60%. So going from 90 houses to 144.
DAVE WEBSTER: So did you find this was just too much, it was just pushing you over the edge?
LYNDA HARFORD: That is exactly I think what members were most concerned about. They were concerned that already we are not able to give the protection that we’d wanted to the integrity of Waterbeach village, and that this just increased the urbanisation of the proposal in such a way that it further diminished the protection that we can give that integrity.
DAVE WEBSTER: Is it going to come to a point where people are going to have to say well, affordable homes for people is more important than beautiful spaces around a development? Because of course Waterbeach has got a gi-normous development coming to it soon. Are we going to have to actually sacrifice our need for green spaces?
LYNDA HARFORD: I don’t believe so at all. If we look at what the need across South Cambridgeshire is for affordable houses, we know that in the Draft Plan the decision about which is currently paused by the Inspectors, in that Draft Plan there are sufficient housing proposals to allow us to fulfill the affordable housing need that we have across South Cambridgeshire.
DAVE WEBSTER: And that’s why you refused the 76 including 40% affordable in Foxton.
LYNDA HARFORD: Remember that both of these applications are speculative applications made by developers because due to the two Waterbeach appeals, one of which I’ve already referred to, has deemed us not to have a five year deliverable land supply.
DAVE WEBSTER: Are you finding that developers are jumping on the fact that your Local Plan isn’t quite approved yet, so they’re trying to find loopholes?
LYNDA HARFORD: That’s exactly the case. As I say it’s the fact that those two Waterbeach appeals deemed us not to have a five year deliverable supply of housing, that meant that they have these loopholes as you call them to jump through and bring forward these speculative applications.
DAVE WEBSTER: And people listening to this, I suppose they really want to know one answer. Will there be enough housing in South Cambridgeshire that they will be able to afford in future?
LYNDA HARFORD: We’re still waiting for the Inspector to determine our Plan, the Joint Plan that we have with .. it’s not a Joint Plan but the two Plans are being considered together, the City and South Cambridgeshire. South Cambridgeshire has identified a need for 19,500 new homes, which will deliver what is needed across the district. There is no question that we will not provide what is needed for the district.
DAVE WEBSTER: OK Linda.
LYNDA HARFORD: But we don’t want to provide that at a cost to our residents which is unacceptable.
DAVE WEBSTER: Linda, thank you very much for joining us this afternoon.
LYNDA HARFORD: You’re welcome. Thank you.
DAVE WEBSTER: That’s councillor Lynda Hardford, who’s the Chairman of the Planning Committee for South Cambridgeshire District Council.