March housebuilding: Hundreds of new homes planned in rapidly changing market town in Fenland

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Hundreds of new homes have been approved in March, Cambridgeshire – and hundreds more are planned

March, Cambridgeshire is a rapidly changing market town.

Already this year, over a hundred new houses have been greenlit in the town, which lies around 16 miles east of Peterborough.

In Fenland District Council’s (FDC) Local Plan, March has the highest target for new housing of anywhere in the area; more even than the larger market town of Wisbech.

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March, Cambridgeshire: A rapidly changing market town in FenlandMarch, Cambridgeshire: A rapidly changing market town in Fenland
March, Cambridgeshire: A rapidly changing market town in Fenland

That Local Plan – essentially an overview of planning policy for a particular area – was adopted in 2014, but the same remains true in FDC’s new Local Plan.

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Although not yet formally adopted, this plan has a target of 2,746 new houses in March (more than 25% of the total target for Fenland) with a deadline of 2040.

Nearly 500 new homes could be built to south of town

This week, FDC began considering a housing application for some 425 new houses on the land south of Barkers Lane and east of Wimblington Road in March, which would, if approved, make up a significant percentage of FDC’s housing target for the town.

The application, brought by Barratt David Wilson Homes, is in its early stages and is likely to be discussed and voted on by FDC’s planning committee at a later date.

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The largest application actually approved in March this year will be built on the land west of Princess Avenue; that development was proposed by Richborough Estates and will be made up of up to 125 new homes.

Another similarly-sized development – up to 110 homes on the land south of 73–81 Upwell Road – was, however, refused.

Councillors had concerns over the possibility of overdevelopment and flooding, but turned it down on the grounds that the area is not identified as suitable for new houses in its Local Plan (although the applicant, Allison Homes, pointed out that it is identified in the emerging Local Plan).

March is undergoing a regeneration project

Another change for March this year is the beginnings of the adoption of the South East March Broad Concept Plan, another planning policy document that sets out proposals for a residential development on around 33.9 hectares of land, most of which is privately-owned fields.

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Another is work beginning on the council’s town centre regeneration project, which recently saw March’s century-old Memorial Fountain temporarily dismantled to make way for a new roundabout.

New paving, bike racks, seating, planters and trees on Broad Street are also planned.

New homes approved in March this year

House building is a notoriously slow process; years can pass between an application being submitted and work beginning.

But to give you an overview of the changes coming to March, based on housing applications approved by FDC’s planning committee so far this year, see below (number of new houses approved: planned location).

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  • 1 – Land West Of 121 West End
  • 7 – Land East of 36 High Street
  • 4 (custom build dwellings) – Land South of Field View, Mill Hill Lane
  • 125 – Fields to the west of Princess Avenue
  • 1 – March Airfield, Cross Road
  • 1 – Land to the West of 167 Gaul Road
  • 3 – Land West of Broadlands, Whitemoor Road
  • 18 – 7 Wisbech Road
  • 3 – Land South East of Cherryholt Farm, Burrowmoor Road
  • 3 – 105 Nene Parade

More still are at earlier or later stages of the planning process.

Some have been submitted but are yet to be approved or refused while others are in the process of being built.

FDC's Local Plan says that March is a "focus for housing, employment and retail growth" and that redevelopment will help "boost its vibrancy and vitality" for the future.

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