Petition calls on plans for new housing development at former Peterborough mental health centre to be restricted

A petition calling on plans for new homes at a former mental health centre to be restricted was laid before Peterborough City Council's Full Council meeting this week.

Friday, 25th January 2019, 5:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:12 pm
The Gloucester Centre

The petition was handed in by Cllr Gavin Elsey (Conservative) on behalf of residents in Orton Longueville.

The petition, which was signed by more than 500 people, asks members to restrict any planning application in the Orton Longueville area to just 50 houses.

Residents are concerned that traffic in the area is already at a critical level, and should large numbers of houses be built then the local schools, already at near bursting point, would not be able to cope with the additional numbers.

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The Gloucester Centre

Cllr Elsey said: “From the nature of my petition before Full Council this evening you will be able to guess that there is expected to be a planning application put before members shortly for the demolition of the Gloucester Road former mental health centre in Orton Longueville, and the building of somewhere between 100-130 new houses on that site.

“In order not pre-determine any planning application or compromise any persons who may have to participate in those meetings, I have generalised my constituents’ objections in terms of scale, land and other issues affecting the area.”

He went on to add: “The residents of Orton Longueville know that Peterborough needs more housing to meet the rapid expansion of the city, and are not NIMBY about building on brown-field sites such as this.

“But growth and development needs to be sustainable, not only for the new residents but for the incumbent residents, and in this area the traffic is already at a standstill several times during the day, and the local schools are full to bursting.

“Therefore, the residents of Orton Longueville ask this council to consider their concerns and ensure that any planning application for this site be restricted in number to no more than 50 houses."

The council's legal officer reminded councillorsof their legal obligations, saying: “Members of the Planning and Environmental Protection Committee, and the Appeals and Planning Review Committee, are reminded of the need to avoid pre-determination in any future planning application.

“Expressing an opinion as the merits of the proposed development on this site, or even as to whether the site should properly accommodate 50 to 100 dwellings, could lead to an argument that your view on any pending or future planning application is pre-determined.

“This would therefore exclude you from being able to participate in the debate or decision-making, or render the decision liable to challenge in the future."

Cabinet member for housing, and planning committee member Cllr Peter Hiller, said: “Due to those legal restraints, in particular the need by members to avoid pre-determination of any future planning application, it is not possible to refer the petition elsewhere, nor to take the action requested.

“The legal constraints in relation to the making of planning decisions and the likelihood of a planning application coming forward for this site means that it would be highly inappropriate of the council collectively, or for members of the Planning and Environmental Protection Committee, or indeed the Appeals and Planning Review Committee, individually to express any view on the merits or otherwise of the numbers of houses that could be built on this site.

“What my colleague Cllr Elsey could do would be to withhold the petition until such time as a planning application has been submitted, and then should he wish to do so present the petition is relation to that application."

After the meeting a disappointed Cllr Elsey said: “I take on board what Cllr Hiller and members have said, and when the planning application is finally brought before the planning committee I shall be there to re-present my case to them.

“But that does not detract from the fact that I believe any proposed development on this site should be scaled down, taking into account the very serious issues of traffic congestion in the area already, and the equally problematic issue of where additional school children will be schooled."

Rob Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service.