Warning over ‘substantial costs’ forces Peterborough councillors to reconsider 190 new homes proposal near accident hotspot

A collision on the A1 southbound near Wittering EMN-150331-140440009
A collision on the A1 southbound near Wittering EMN-150331-140440009
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A last minute warning that Peterborough City Council could be hit by “substantial costs” forced councillors to reconsider a decision to reject a scheme for 190 new homes.

Members on the council’s planning committee were set to overwhelmingly oppose the plans for Wittering due to safety concerns on the nearby A1.

But, after being warned during Tuesday’s meeting that the developers had a good chance of winning an appeal,committee members decided to defer the decision in order to receive more information.

The late intervention came from the council’s planning and development manager Lee Collins who said rejecting the proposals on road safety concerns might fail on appeal as Highways England had raised no objections.

He told members: “If the developers were to appeal an inspector would give that a lot of weight. There could be substantial costs.”

The meeting was then put on hold for 15 minutes to allow for more legal advice. On its resumption committee chair Cllr Chris Harper proposed a deferral to receive more information on the possible impact at the A1 junction (southbound into Wittering) from 190 homes, and more up-to-date traffic data. The proposal was unanimously agreed.

Before then, councillors were adamant that the scheme south of Lawrence Road could not go ahead, especially when they were told there had been 30 accidents, including two fatalities, within 150m of the A1 junction between 2012 and 2016. Currently, southbound drivers going into Wittering have to turn right across the dual carriageway while avoiding traffic going north. A flyover to overcome the issue will not be considered before 2020 by Highways England.

Mark Mann, applicant for the scheme submitted by Larkfleet Homes and the Cecil Estate Family, said the council’s Local Plan allocated 160 homes for the site. The other 30 homes are replacing land earmarked for employment.

Wittering member Cllr Diane Lamb told the committee that “there are no medical, dental or pharmaceutical facilities in Wittering” and that some primary school classes were full. MP Shailesh Vara, Wittering Parish Council and more than 430 residents had previously written in objecting to the plans.