PAUL STAINTON: Banners opposing a development which would provide up to 5,000 new homes and around 9,000 jobs have been put up ahead of an important meeting. The Government’s inspector is coming to Peterborough to discuss the Great Haddon development. Olive Main is from the Norman Cross Action Group. Good morning Olive.
OLIVE MAIN: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Now .. tsk .. you put banners up. You’re angry. There are 9,000 jobs at stake here Olive. What’s the problem?
OLIVE MAIN: Well I don’t think we would concede that there are 9,000 jobs going. But our problem is basically that there’s plenty of other places in Peterborough, if you want to build 5,000 houses, rather than on first class agricultural land, right on the edge of Peterborough. The Norman Cross Action Group is the representative of all the local parishes, who are not actually living in Peterborough. We’re all from Huntingdonshire. And we feel we’re having this massive development dumped on us that is not necessary. Hampton, for example, is far from complete. Why not finish that first, put in all the infrastructure and the community facilities that were promised, that have never appeared? Why not look at the centre of Peterborough, the vast quantities of property there that’s empty and unused, before you start building on really very good agricultural land?
PAUL STAINTON: Well Olive the reason we’re doing it is I think because we need thousands of new homes, and that’s the perfect place according to the Council.
OLIVE MAIN: Peterborough is scheduled to build 25,000 new homes in the next fifteen years. They’ve never ever managed to reach more than about 1,000 houses a year. Yet why is it going to change now, when conditions are so poor for housebuilding and house selling? And that doesn’t stop the fact that they don’t need to build them at Norman Cross.
PAUL STAINTON: What is the strength of feeling like? Because I understand there are banners up, aren’t there?
OLIVE MAIN: There’s a public inquiry starting on Wednesday, and we just want to remind people and Peterborough City Council, that we are very opposed to this development. We understand that there will have to be development im this area. But what we want is a better development. We don’t want this massive new township. We want to protect particularly Yaxley and the other villages, by much more green space between the development and the existing villages. We want them to look very much more seriously at the road system. 5,300 houses is going to mean anything up to over 10,000 cars a day debouching onto the A16 and the A1M. And they are neither of them designed to take that kind of traffic. We want them to remember the old Great North Road is not a main road, as they keep telling us. It is now a country lane, and it is part of the National Cycleway, and the Green Wheel. All these things make us want a big reconsideration of this idea.
PAUL STAINTON: With us too is Councillor Nick Guyatt, the Strategic Planning and Housing portfolio holder on Hunts District Council;. Morning Nick.
NICK GUYATT: Good morning to you Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: You’re backing Olive as well, aren’t you, and you’re against this development. Why?
NICK GUYATT: Right. Well it’s very simple. Can we just disassociate the 9,000 jobs. 9,000 jobs are the industrial site to the North, for which permission has already been given.
PAUL STAINTON: Mm.
NICK GUYATT: So there are no jobs at stake in this. It’s simply a matter of ..
PAUL STAINTON: Right. So you’re not against that per se then?
NICK GUYATT: OK. So let’s just deal with where would you build houses. Cambridgeshire County Council and the Highways Agency have already put a stop on Peterborough having this development, until they can get the road system sorted out. OK?
PAUL STAINTON: Uh huh.
NICK GUYATT: And the easiest way, our argument is going to be, is that the effort should be, as Olive said quite rightly, there should be at some stage some development here. 5,350 houses is far too many for this site. It would make it very very dense. And the road network as she said just couldn’t cope.
PAUL STAINTON: But you’re a housing officer. You understand we have to build some houses.
NICK GUYATT: I absolutely understand we have to build houses. I have to do the same thing in Huntingdon. And what I do is I look for sites that are brought forward by landowners that fit the criteria. And one of the criteria that we have in Huntingdon, and they have the same in Peterborough, is that there should not be coalescence between large towns and small villages. And this si what actually happens with the Great Haddon development. It goes right up to the boundary of Yaxley, and means that Yaxley gets subsumed effectively inside Peterborough. I don’t know where you live. Where do you live Paul?
PAUL STAINTON: I live just north of Stamford actually, just ..
NICK GUYATT: Yes. North of Stamford. So you really love it in a village?
PAUL STAINTON: Well, .. (LAUGHS) I’m trying to play devil’s advocate. I’m not saying I want houses built on my ..
NICK GUYATT: All I’m trying to point out to your listeners is if you actually were affected, if you suddenly found Stamford growing into your village, then you’d be saying I don’t want that. I want to maintain your village identity.
PAUL STAINTON: Listen, I like the look of where Haddon is. I like it the way it is. From when I first came to Peterborough in ’89, there’s a whole lot of Peterborough been concreted over. But, I’m realistic enough to accept that there’s a lot of people out there who need a house.
NICK GUYATT: Yes. And I accept they’re going to need houses as well. But there ia a debate about whether they need as many houses as Peterborough think. That wasn’t done very scientifically. It was a guess, in fact.
PAUL STAINTON: The policy document has already been decided hasn’t it? So your campaign really can’t make a great deal of difference, can it?
NICK GUYATT: Yes it can.
PAUL STAINTON: Why? How?
NICK GUYATT: I’m appearing in the inquiry tomorrow. And I will be making our case to the inspector, that they can put say 2,500 houses there. There’s plenty of room inside Peterborough, for example on the old hospital site, where they could build the rest of the houses.
PAUL STAINTON: If they ever get on with it of course.
NICK GUYATT: Well that’s Peterborough City Council’s problem bluntly, not mine. Because they can’t get rid of that site, don’t come and build new houses in Great Haddon.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. And Olive, as we said with Nick there, the 9,000 jobs are virtually guaranteed. That site has been passed off. But you’ve heard a rumour that one of the big companies that’s supposed to be in there is perhaps not going to be there.
OLIVE MAIN: Well that is true. But I have to say this is only a rumour, and I wouldn’t really want to go down that avenue today. Unless somebody comes up with hard evidence on that. But I think in the present economic situation, it could well be the case that it’s going to be quite difficult to develop that site, when there is already warehousing space empty, both in Peterborough and in the surrounding areas. And the new Enterprise Zone at Alconbury coming on stream.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. I have to say we have put calls into Eddie Stobart, tried many many times yesterday to ask them if they were actually going to take up the offer of warehousing on the Haddon development, after we were .. not just you Olive, but a number of people told us that perhaps there was a problem with that, and they wouldn’t be turning up there. And we’ve yet to hear back from Eddie Stobart. So we can’t confirm that rumour. Nick, are you confident you can make a difference?
NICK GUYATT: I am hopeful I can make a difference. Both the District Council and myself and the County Council have objected to this site, and have said that the plan is unsound. We are the three main planning authorities around Great Haddon.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. And Olive, do you think the banners can work?
OLIVE MAIN: Well you’ve got to try everything, and alright, you can accuse us of being nimbys, and to some extent we are, but I think you perhaps will take Nick’s point that there aren’t many people who would appreciate this kind of development ending up on their doorstep, when they’ve chosen to live in a relatively quiet rural area. We didn’t envisage Peterborough stretching its tentacles quite so near us all. And we just want a better development there, one that’s less obtrusive, and one that is less troublesome to its neighbours.
PAUL STAINTON: Olive, we’ve got to leave it there, but yes, I get your point. Olive, thank you very very much for coming on this morning. Olive Main from the Norman Cross Action Group, up in arms about the 5,000 houses planned for the Haddon development, and Councillor Nick Guyatt, Strategic Planning and Housing portfolio holder on Hunts District Council, also against the scheme.