The Battle of Eye

08:10 Monday 29th November 2010
Peterborough Breakfast Show BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

Following a consultation with Eye locals, in which the villagers agreed to 40 new houses, Peterborough City Council have set out to build 685. Resistance is mounting to what residents see as rapacious development, and Dale McKean reports back from the latest public meeting. In related news: Larkpoint and Larkfleet Homes are developers working in Eye. The Leader of Peterborough City Council has now been appointed Chairman of Larkpoint.

SHANE O’CONNOR: Over a hundred Eye residents have met over housing plans for the village. The Council plans to build eighty five new homes there. Dale McKean lives in Eye and led the public meeting on Friday night and joins us on the show. Dale, good morning.
DALE MCKEAN: Good morning Shane.
SO’C: What happened at the meeting then, on Friday?
DM: Well, a very cold evening. We had a hundred residents turn out again to listen to the presentation about what the Council are currently proposing to do. The thing with Peterborough, with Eye village, it’s the second largest village in Cambridgeshire. And in 2008 there was a village survey undertaken with the City Council and community groups. And 77% of those residents said they did not want any more than 40 houses. Since then, we’ve had 380 houses and dwellings. So in April this year, when the actual site allocations came out from the City Council, we ran a campaign. And 1274 Eye residents, that’s 40% of the electors in Eye, wrote in to object to any more houses. In fact they were asking for another 305 in the village. Now we didn’t say we wanted 85 houses. We said we wanted no more outside the current village envelope. So that just leaves one site within the village which is inside the village envelope, which is an employment site, and is next to our nature reserve, and has housing allocation for that. And if we’re to retain that employment in the village, which we obviously need, it would just leave about a site size of about twenty houses.
SO’C: It’s not much of a dialogue is it really? How do you get from “we want no more than 40 houses” to “OK you can have 300”?
DM: Well this is it. We’re absolutely astounded. They did a survey with us. We told them what we wanted. They then gave us another 380. And then they said this year they wanted to give us another 305. And the village does not want any more. It doesn’t need any more. What it has got problems with, it’s got no room at its primary school, the doctor’s is full, the junior youth club is full, the sewers can’t cope, we’re gridlocked with traffic. So we don’t need any more to sustain the village, and the villagers don’t want any more.
SO’C: Isn’t this just progress? Aren’t you just a NIMBY?
DM: Well not really. In fact far from it. We’ve done our bit for the growth. We’ve had 380 houses recently. So we’ve done our bit. And it’s time for other areas of the city to take their amount of growth. And of course as Stewart Jackson said earlier on, other villagers need a bit of growth, not high-volume growth, but need a bit of growth, to stop the shops and libraries and everything else closing.
SO’C: So do you feel confident now that .. well I mean what do you .. I was going to say if you have a conversation we want 40 houses there you go have 300 I should imagine you’re not confident. (LAUGHS) But how do you feel now about what you’re goingt to end up with? Do you have any idea?
DM: Well they’re proposing the 85. And we’re going to go to Full Council again on 8th December and put the case against to all of the councillors. Obviously we’re still awaiting the Public Inspector making a ruling on the Core Strategy that’s driving these 25,500 houses. So that may have an impact before the Full Council. But we’re going to write to all the councillors again, attend the Council meeting, have some public questions, and hope that the councillors will listen to us. Their Planning Committee told the Cabinet that the houses were too high for the village. The Neighbourhood Council met and said that there was no real need and agreement with these houses. It just goes on and on and on, and the City Council are just not listening fully.
SO’C: Who are the City Council telling you are going to live in these houses?
DM: Well that’s the interesting side, because we have had situations where the builders have not been able to sell the houses in the village. And certainly they’ve not been going to the villagers themselves. Obviously they’ve been going to the people on the top priority of the housing list. So people in the village who do need houses aren’t getting these houses through the listings, because obviously there are other people higher on the list.
SO’C: I know it’s over double what you said you felt was acceptable, but 85, do you think that’s a number that the village could kind of stick at, and say well OK, we’ve done our bit once, we’ll do it again. 85 is a number we can live with?
DM: No. The campaign is to stop it, and stop it for good. The village is the second largest in Cambridgeshire. We have to stop it now. Just have the last twenty or so prestige houses next to our nature reserve. Have the employment site where it currently is. We’ve got a shortage of open space in the village. We┬áneed more open space in the village, and we need to sort this problem out for our schooling and our doctors and our gym use, because we’ve not been able to cope with the current growth.
SO’C: Dale, good to talk to you. Thanks for joining us this morning. Dale McKean there, who lives in Eye, and led the meeting on Friday night, joining us on the show.