Villagers consider appeal after 190 home development approved by Peterborough councillors

A collision on the A1 southbound near Wittering EMN-150331-140440009A collision on the A1 southbound near Wittering EMN-150331-140440009
A collision on the A1 southbound near Wittering EMN-150331-140440009
Villagers are looking to appeal a 190 home development approved by Peterborough city councillors.

Members on the council’s planning committee approved an application for homes south of Lawrence Road in Wittering despite vocal opposition, including from local MP Shailesh Vara and the village’s councillor Diane Lamb.

The committee had previously wanted to reject the application from Larkfleet Homes And Cecil Estate Family due to safety concerns from entering the village from the A1, but it was warned that a successful appeal could see the council hit with “substantial costs” as Highways England has raised no safety objections.

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And after considering the application for a second time, having previously deferred making a decision, the committee gave it its unanimous backing.

The decision, though, has not gone down well with the Wittering Action Group which opposed the plans.

The group’s chair Dave Hughes said: “We are really disappointed. There was an overwhelming rejection from the villagers. I think it was close to 400 sent letters that went back to the council and they had the support of the parish council, Cllr Diane Lamb and Shailesh Vara, our local MP, who also vehemently rejected the development.

“We are hoping to challenge the decision. There are a few of us in discussion about challenging it. I would like to.”

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Discussing his objections to the proposals, Mr Hughes added: “People want that rural, idyllic village life.

“The school can’t cope - children in Reception Year and Years 1 and 2 are going to schools not in the area.

“If you live in a village you want to walk your children to school. We do not have a local doctors or dentists - the nearest is in Wansford or Stamford.

“That’s fine, but more houses flood those already overwhelmed resources.

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“The village does not need the housing or the expansion. It’s difficult to absorb it.”

Currently, southbound drivers entering Wittering from the A1 have to turn right off the dual carriageway while avoiding traffic going north. A flyover to overcome the issue will not be considered before 2020 by Highways England.

At an earlier planning meeting, councillors were told there had been 30 accidents, including two fatalities, within 150m of the A1 junction between 2012 and 2016.

Cllr Chris Harper, chair of the planning committee, said: “Although it was noted that a number of objections were received, there were also 17 letters of support for the application from residents looking to buy in this area.

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“All of the statutory consultees consulted with as part of the application raised no objections to the application and the land in question is an allocated site for growth in the Local Plan. Therefore under our planning duties, we had no reasons to turn down this application.

“I will, however, be writing to the Government and Highways England to ask for the speed limit to be reduced in this area over a two to three mile distance to 50mph.

“There is nothing in the data submitted to suggest that accidents have been caused as a result of vehicles entering or leaving the Wittering A1 junction, but I realise this is obviously a concern for residents.”

North West Cambridgeshire MP Mr Vara said: “This is a disappointing decision.

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“The Wittering Action Group ran a strong campaign based upon well-grounded concerns and it is regrettable that the council has given permission for this large number of homes.

“I very much hope that the developer will now work with residents to ensure the impact of these houses is mitigated as much as possible.”

A spokesman for Larkfleet Homes said: “After extensive consultation with local people we submitted a planning application to build 190 much-needed new homes in Wittering.

“The application included a number of changes to our original proposals – such as redesigning the layout to provide two access routes rather than one – based on feedback we received from local people at a public exhibition in the village.

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“Highways England, which is responsible for traffic management and safety on the A1, has raised no objections to the planned development. Neither have the local education authority or the NHS.

“The decision to grant planning consent was taken by the city council after a lengthy process of public consultation and open deliberation which took all of these factors into account. Councillors voted unanimously in favour of granting planning permission.

“We believe the development will help to tackle Peterborough’s acute rural housing crisis in which local people are being forced to move away from the villages where they were born because they cannot afford to buy homes there.”