LETTER: Green flaws in Peterborough Local Plan

More than 1,500 properties were let without power in Weston Favell.
More than 1,500 properties were let without power in Weston Favell.
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Sustainable growth can enhance the quality of natural habitats and populations of wild species, and provide green spaces that local people enjoy.

The Wildlife Trust BCN supports Peterborough’s aspiration to be the ‘Environment Capital’ of the UK.

However, this aspiration is undermined by the council’s unfortunate choice of new locations for major development and their failure to provide sufficient safeguards and environmental sustainability in the draft Peterborough Local Plan.

The council’s own assessments of the suitability and sustainability of their chosen locations that are included for new development are fundamentally flawed, have been inconsistently applied, and so have downplayed or missed major negative impacts on the natural environment.

In particular, the Wildlife Trust objects to the major housing allocation at Castor/Ailsworth where new homes could be built within 100m of Castor Hanglands NNR, causing serious negative impact on this nationally important site. We are also opposing the housing allocation at Norwood.

The John Clare Country Living Landscape west of Peterborough is one of the most important places around Peterborough where there are real opportunities for creating a more coherent network of habitats.

Castor Hanglands National Nature Reserve, Barnack Hills & Holes National Nature Reserve and Dogsthorpe Star Pit nature reserve - to name just three - are already being adversely impacted by recreational pressure from visitors, and the proposed developments would increase this pressure. However, this need not be the case. The Wildlife Trust believes that new development around Peterborough has the potential to create areas of high quality green spaces and habitats in the right locations, enhancing the local environment and improving the lives of local people.

If the proposed Norwood development included a commitment to create a sufficient area of high quality green space and wildlife habitats, the Trust believes the development could be acceptable and avoid negative impacts on nearby Dogsthorpe Star Pit nature reserve.

This development could also provide new green space in a part of the city which is deficient in such high-quality sites, and so contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of new and existing residents alike. Providing attractive and stimulating green spaces which people want to visit and enjoy, where wildlife thrives, and which reduce the excess recreational pressures suffered at many nature reserves is essential if Peterborough is to truly become the ‘Environment Capital’ of the UK.

Jo Dickson

Wildlife Trust for Cambridgeshire