In a widely expected move, ECDC Planning Committee rejected the planning application by Multiplex Stannifer to build the 5000+ homes and 8000 sq.m of retail development on land adjacent to the A10 between Stretham and Wilburton (full details below).
The New Town (illustrations confirm the influence of the Simpsons hometown of Springfield), to be called Mereham, which will be made up of 5 neighbourhoods (Red Hill Park, Snoot’s Common, Brook End, Town’s End Village & Low Fen Village) has provoked outrage from village communities living close to the proposed site worried that the infrastructure won’t sustain a development of this size and that it would have a detrimental affect to the rural life these communities live. Action groups such as the ‘Wilburton Action Group Oppose New Settlement’ (Wagons) have attracted wide media attention, Carol Massey, of Wagons, voiced her concerns: ‘Our children are able to enjoy idyllic childhoods playing in fields and enjoy a rural way of life. If this went ahead it would ruin Wilburton for future generations’. Placcards seen at a recent meeting proclaimed ‘We Say No To SATANnifer’ and ‘Mereham Means Mayhem’.
This development will destroy the local area and tear apart the ancient villages that have been loved for many centuries
With feelings running so high Cambridgeshire County Councillors had written to East Cambridgeshire planners urging them to turn the proposals down as the plans were unacceptable and posed a major road safety risk. Leading campaigner and County Councillor William Hunt, Local Member for Haddenham, including Wilburton wrote: ‘This development will destroy the local area and tear apart the ancient villages that have been loved for many centuries. The infrastructure cannot cope, crime will increase and the residents do not want it. Future generations will never forgive any official or elected member who does not reject this application and finish the idea for good.’
South Cambs District Council had already turned down a highways improvements application to improve the A10 between A14 Milton Junction and River Great Ouse In the Parishes of Milton, Landbeach and Waterbeach. There were also major concerns the plan to widen the busy A10 from a seven-metre single carriageway to 10 metre width. Safety experts claimed that the widening could encourage dangerous overtaking into oncoming traffic, they also wanted to replace the Jane Coston bridge on the A10 with a bus and foot/cycle bridge. Cambridge County Council also objected to both applications.
The site would detract from the economic development of Ely
Eleven district councillors voted to reject the plan, one of the councillors, Fiona McKay-Rae, commented: ‘This plan breaks all the rules and if it were to go through it would cause catastrophic implications for hundreds of people.’ The Council also were also concerned the site would detract from the economic development of Ely. To get a real sense of the enormity of this development you can view an ariel photograph here.
Multiplex Stannifer have appealed against the decision and although bruised are ready to step-up their campaign to win over public support for Mereham.
Alan Paterson, for Multiplex Stannifer concluded, ‘We are not deterred at all by this decision, because we believe the case for Mereham will stand up to independent scrutiny. In due course, our plans are to submit an appeal where the merits and demerits of our case can be examined at a public inquiry. In the meantime, we will continue to discuss our proposals with local people and interested organisations.’
The Mereham Planning Application
The Planning Application: Outline application for new settlement comprising up to approx. 5,000 homes, up to approx. 8,000 sq.m retail & related uses (including foodstore of approx. 2,500 sq.m, comparison retail of approx. 4,000 sq.m & A2/A3/A4/A5 uses of approx. 1,500 sq.m); up to approx. 45,000 sq.m employment uses (Bl, B2 & B8); & supporting leisure, community & education uses; & infrastructure including highway works to the A10.
The Location: Proposed Mereham Development South Of A1123, West Of A10, East Of Twentypence Road & North Of Great Ouse Between Stretham & Wilburton Cambridgeshire 05/01116/OUM.
Letter from ECDC to Cambridgeshire Local Access Forum: Letter with details of location and the planning application (43kb). View the PDF here*.
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