Peterborough has been told it no longer needs to provide homes for neighbouring councils in Cambridgeshire.
The Peterborough Telegraph revealed in August 2017 that the city council had accepted a deal in 2013 to build 2,500 homes for authorities in Cambridgeshire, before three years later enraging residents in Castor and Ailsworth by proposing to build the same number of houses in countryside near their villages.
Those proposals, which were part of the council’s new Local Plan, were later dropped after a huge campaign by residents, although the council claimed it was because fewer homes were needed thanks to a change made by the Government in calculating future housing provision.
However, the authority has now been told to scrap its deal with neighbouring councils by Planning Inspectorate Louise Crosby.
The change was revealed in an updated version of the Local Plan which has been approved by the Planning Inspectorate and will now be put before councillors for final consent in July.
If they refuse it the lengthy process will have to start again.
The updated plan has reduced the number of homes Peterborough will need to build from 21,315 to 19,440 between 2016 and 2036. This includes on average 40 homes a year for students attending the new University of Peterborough from 2021 to 2036.
Council leader Cllr John Holdich said: “Peterborough is the fifth fastest growing city in the UK and is expected to grow by 19,400 homes by 2036. It is therefore imperative that we have a properly considered and well structured Local Plan to ensure development is located in the right places with the necessary infrastructure in place to support this rapid growth.”
The Planning Inspectorate’s approval of the Local Plan, following moderations, means 250 homes are earmarked to be built in Eye, despite anger from local residents that the village already lacks the necessary infrastructure.
The agreement by the city council to build homes for neighbouring authorities was made in 2013 and would have seen an average of 125 built a year for 20 years.
The council has previously defended the decision, stating: “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.”
In making the decision to scrap the arrangement, the Planning Inspectorate highlighted the fact East Cambridgeshire and Fenland are both due to update their local plans.
Peter Hiller, cabinet member for growth, planning, housing and economic development at the council, said: “I am delighted the Planning Inspectorate has only come back with minor changes to our plan and not anything that alters the overall essence of it.
“Whilst I accept that not everybody will be 100 per cent happy, it indicates that we have got it about right and should be confident of its future success for our city. I would like to thank everyone involved in preparing this successful plan, including the many thousands of residents who took the time to offer their thoughts and suggestions during the consultation stages.”
The PT asked the council why the number of homes needed had reduced so much, but a response had not been given at the time of going to press.