I was very pleased to see the notification that the council’s planning appeal (against their own planning committee!) over the plans for housing on Tenter Hill have been rejected.
This represents a great achievement for the residents of the area against the blind corporate approach of the council, who looked set to steamroller over the expressed wishes of the residents.
Let’s be clear here, the plans for housing, and it was for houses, not flats, on that site, were totally flawed, it was the wrong plan for the wrong location and would have delivered nothing positive for the residents of North Stanground.
From a personal perspective also, it was a great feeling. Having initiated the original petition against the plans, and working with a small number of local residents (Amber and Sophi to the fore) to obtain in excess of 1,000 signatures in the first two weeks from the publication of the planning application, I felt a great deal of ownership of this campaign.
But the whole thing is also tinged with annoyance, that the council saw fit to try to drive through planning than no-one wanted, and I believe that the near 3,000 objections to the initial planning application showed the strength of local feeling.
Even after their planning committee had decisively rejected the application, and I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at that meeting, the council tried to overturn the decision, the appeal paid for out of tax revenue, paid for, by amongst others, the very people whose wishes they were seeking to thwart.
One strong lesson from this is that councils need to listen to the people they are supposed to represent.
I do understand the need for housing, but we need to be planning to ensure that any housing is appropriate to the area it is in and that it always has a positive impact on the existing community.
But there is a further issue here, and that is one of ultimate capacity. Just how many houses can Peterborough sustain, how can the infrastructure develop to cope with that growth and at what point do we have to call a halt? Because, be in no doubt that the city can’t simply continue to grow.
Already the city extends, effectively from Norman Cross to Newborough, Sutton to Eye, and the growth of Cardea expands ever closer to Whittlesey. Services are not being built to service this expanding housing, and the city boundaries are expanding. Where will it stop, because stop it must, or the countryside around that provides the ecological balance to our city living and also much of the food we eat, will simply disappear.