Campaigners demanding the end to proposals for 2,500 homes in countryside north of Castor and Ailsworth may have been given a lifeline after Peterborough City Council called for the plan to be deferred.
In a big surprise at yesterday’s planning meeting it was announced that Peterborough may need to build 1,000 to 2,000 fewer homes than previously thought due to a very recent change in government policy.
The news prompted the council to call for the new Peterborough Local Plan - which includes the 2,500 home development, dubbed the Great Kyne - to be deferred for two to three months so it can recalculate the city’s new housing need and which sites are best suited to meet it.
The recommendation was agreed by the committee and will now be considered by the Conservative cabinet on Monday.
The council’s head of sustainable growth and delivery Richard Kay said the Government was now seeking a new method for councils to assess housing need.
He added: “On initial analysis this appears to demonstrate that the housing need for Peterborough is less than that currently identified in the local plan.
“The precise difference needs calculating, but we believe it to result in between 1,000 and 2,000 less dwellings, and likely at the upper end of that range.
“Subject to detailed consideration officers believe the new method appears, in principle, sensible and practical. Using the new method, with its lower housing numbers, will likely mean one or more sites as recommended being removed.”
Around 30 campaigners from the Protect Rural Peterborough (PRP) pressure group were at the meeting and loudly applauded several of the speeches against the development.
PRP chair Martin Chilcott told the committee that council officers were contradicting their own policies by building on the countryside and damaging the landscape.
He said an assessment of the development which is near the Castor Hanglands nature reserve showed “10 reds - twice as many as any other site,” for environmental and serious social harm.
He added: “We urge the planning committee to recommend the removal of Great Kyne from the local plan and save the countryside around Peterborough.”
Robert Dalgleish from Milton Peterborough Estates was equally vocal in his opposition to the proposals,
He said the impact on the “historic landscape” would be “massive and holy unacceptable.”
And he claimed the application was “so inappropriate” that even if the development was the only way Peterborough could meet its housing target, it should still not be allowed to go ahead.
Mr Kay said it is “always difficult whenever you create a local plan to meet that housing need.”
Cllr Peter Hiller, cabinet member for planning and ward member for Castor, said both himself and council leader Cllr John Holdich, who also represents Castor, were “absolutely unequivocal” that the 2,500 homes plan, which he labelled a “blight,” needed to be removed from the local plan.
He added: “I will be lobbying very, very hard indeed to ensure that happens.”
The local plan also includes proposals to put a University of Peterborough campus close to the Embankment, with a foot and cycle bridge to the new Fletton Quays development on the South Bank.