Members of the city council Planning and Environmental Protection Committee gave the go-ahead for the outline application at their meeting this week (January 25) despite numerous objections including one from Paul Bristow MP.
Addressing the meeting, Cllr Nigel Simons, speaking as local ward councillor, said: “There are many issues with this application, but I will concentrate on the one which most concerns me.
“The number of objections to this outline application is unprecedented: A total of 381 individual written responses have been recorded with 378 of them objecting and just three in support.
“All the ward councillors object, as do all the parish councillors and even our local MP, Paul Bristow.
“Now, although we agree that this site is in the Local Plan for development, we were assured it would be developed with adequate infrastructure – but I can see no evidence of this.
“In addition, I believe a ‘fit-for-purpose’ link road from the A47 is required, and this was discussed with the developer about two and a half years ago, but it seems they have no intention whatsoever of working with us.
“Indeed, it has been indicated that the only grounds that could be considered by this committee for the refusing of this development would be on highway grounds if there was an impact on highway safety leading to a severe impact on the road network.
“Anybody from Eye will testify how difficult it is at the present time to gain entry to or leave Eye at peak times because the current highway infrastructure is already at peak capacity.
“We are told that through improving the cycleway and public footpath as well as the access to Thorney Road and putting a zebra crossing across the road will mitigate any transport issues.
“Im no transport expert, but will somebody please explain to me how 500 more cars not to mention all the construction vehicles travelling down a narrow 7.5-ton limit road next to a primary school can be mitigated? How can we not be concerned about this road?
“I have never felt so strongly against an application, and I would ask this committee to go against officers recommendations and refuse this application.
Speaking on behalf of the developers Mr Chris Dwan, Planning Director Allison Homes said ‘the highways impact was demonstrated as acceptable at 300 dwellings by our evidence base’. He made the point that ‘crucially, the reduction in dwellings offered to 265 was not in reaction to evidence base indicators or statutory consultee advise, but was us, as the developer, listening to the requests and aspirations of the local area based on the statutory local resident consultation responses and the feedback we received following our meetings with the ward members and the Local MP’.
He added: “We’re well aware of the infrastructure impact concerns outlined by Cllr Simons and have provided all the relevant forms of mitigation requested from us by the Council and the statutory consultees as part of our scheme proposals, including those of the Local Highways Authority. In particular these include the provision of a new cycleway along Thorney Road into the village, and the provision of land to Eye Primary School to help facilitate the potential extension of the school in the future, as well as providing the school with a new main point of access through our development site to help dilute the current issues at school drop off and pick up times on Eyebury Road”.Chair, Cllr Peter Hiller said: “Having listened to everybody’s views and thoughts I think what we have to be careful of is that if we are objecting to this, we need planning reasons to do that rather than we just don’t like it because the ward councillors don’t like it or because the locals don’t like it.
“I think we need to be very careful and I’m always conscious of the appeal process, so we have to be very sure within this committee that we are not being unreasonable, and that we’ve evaluated all the points for and against any particular application and I think that’s really very important.
“The problem I have with this outline application for up to 265 houses is that this an allocated site – it is in our adopted 2019 Local Plan for up to 250 houses – it could more, it could be less, it isn’t a prescripted target as such – and so we mustn’t be confused with what is an outline application and what are reserved matters.”
After more than an hour of debate, members voted by majority of seven in favour to three against, to grant the outline application.
Editor’s note: Mr Dwan’s quote has been amended from the original version because of an error in transcribing from a live stream. Our apologies for any confusion caused.