Campaigners against a new 2,500 ‘township’ planned for the countryside are unhappy after discovering the city council agreed to build the same number of homes in Peterborough for neighbouring authorities.
Protect Rural Peterborough (PRP) has criticised the council for accepting a deal in 2013 to take on 2,500 homes to alleviate the housing shortage in the rest of Cambridgeshire, before later proposing to place 2,500 homes on land near Castor and Ailsworth.
PRP’s Martin Chillcott said: “We believe it is absurd to propose the north west of Peterborough as a suitable site for a development designed to solve Cambridge’s housing crisis.
“The proposed site next to Castor Hanglands is over an hour’s drive from Cambridge promoting long, unhealthy and ultimately environmentally harmful journeys, while causing the destruction of a vital part of Peterborough’s best countryside.”
The 2013 memorandum of co-operation signed by Cambridgeshire councils addressed the county’s growth strategy up to 2031.
A city council spokeswoman said the number of houses was apportioned to each district, adding: “For Peterborough, this meant we committed to accommodate some of the housing need arising in Cambridgeshire, which obviously includes areas close to Peterborough such as Yaxley and Whittlesey.
“This amounted to an additional 2,500 homes for Peterborough. Two separate planning inspectors have subsequently confirmed that the memorandum of co-operation was not only appropriate, but also in line with national planning policy.
“All of this was agreed four years ago, well before the site in Castor and Ailsworth was suggested to the city council by the Homes and Communities Agency as a potential site for inclusion in the new Local Plan for Peterborough.
“In December 2016, the council consulted on the possibility of that site accommodating 2,500 homes. The fact that the two figures are the same is purely coincidental.”
North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara is a vocal critical of the proposed development, while city council leader and Castor representative Cllr John Holdich has labelled the plans “environmental vandalism.”