Council leader dubs home plan ‘vandalism’

Castor, Ailsworth and Upton residents gather at the proposed development site 200meteres from Castor Hanglands EMN-170215-161941009

Castor, Ailsworth and Upton residents gather at the proposed development site 200meteres from Castor Hanglands EMN-170215-161941009

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Building 2,500 homes in Peterborough countryside would be “environmental vandalism” according to the leader of the city council.

Councillor John Holdich has criticised Peterborough City Council’s proposals for a new development just north of Castor and Ailsworth.

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara has also hit out at the council, claiming it should be “embarrassed” by its consultation on the scheme.

Joining the leading Tories in their opposition is the Wildlife Trust which claims the housing development would cause a “serious negative impact” for the nearby Castor Hanglands nature reserve.

Cllr Holdich represents Castor ward on the council and warned that the development would “destroy the natural beauty” of the area.

The council leader, who said he made his reputation in 1977 fighting off proposals for a Castor township, also believes a major development would have ramifications for commuters, with an influx of traffic coming into the city centre through Thorpe Road.

He said: “Thorpe Road is pretty chocker now. This would have an adverse effect on the West ward of Peterborough.”

Asked about being opposed to his own council’s proposal, Cllr Holdich replied: “I’m not in trouble yet because it’s a consultation. It’s not council policy yet.

“But, if it goes ahead we will do our best to protect what we have here.”

The proposed settlement is included in a draft Peterborough Local Plan.

The plan states that new developments were based on findings from the council’s Growth Strategy Evidence Report. However, that report has not yet been finished.

Mr Vara, a vocal critic of the development, wrote to council chief executive Gillian Beasley saying: “That the Growth Strategy Evidence Report does not yet exist makes a mockery of the consultation, and such a glaring omission is frankly embarrassing for the council.”

The council said it postponed publishing the report as it is continuing to gather evidence for it.

A consultation on the draft plan has now finished, and a council spokesman said the comments will help formulate a fully developed local plan which will be released in May. He added that residents will then have more opportunities to comment.

The proposed new settlement, called the ‘Great Kyne,’ also includes plans for a new country park, employment land and a cemetery.

However, the Wildlife Trust has written to the Peterborough Telegraph to speak out against the plans.

See Letters on pages 36-37