Over the last few days I have managed to take a bit of a closer look at the planning application for Feldale Fields. The application can be found here
The Reference is F/YR10/0206/O.
Can I also please remind you that it can be also be viewed at the Fenland@Your Service shop in the Town Centre. Please, please make your views know by writing to:
Fenland District Council
Cambs. PE15 8NQ
You can also discuss the applicaion on the Facebook page that has been created here
The application plan has an annotation for the new Coates Crusaders football pitches as ‘Sports Pitches’
. Whilst the annotation is outside of the red-lined boundary, it is the only labelled area that is outside. To the untrained eye that could create the impression that there is a link between the proposed 460 homes and the new pitches. Larkfleet did the same thing at the consultation - and I made comment then that I did not think it appropriate. So, once again, I need to make it plain that there is no link between the two. Turning down the planning application will not affect the development of the Coates Crusaders facilities.
I have had quite a close look at the Design and Access Statement
and have some real concerns about how this application is being portrayed.
The crux of this application is summarised by the statement on Page 10 which says:
“The ‘saved’ policy of the Fenland District Wide Local Plan identifies that new development in Whittlesey should provide limited and small scale new housing development”
It is quite clear to me that this application is contrary to that statement in that it is neither limited nor small scale. But, there is another policy, the Interim Statement of Proposed Changes
which was approved in January 2001 which states:
“Structure Plan Policies SP3/1 and SP14/1 state that at Whittlesey no further permissions for estates will be granted before significant improvements to the A605 -from Whittlesey to Peterborough have been secured.”
That document does also talk about public transport improvements, but this application does not offer that, it just looks at extending existing bus provision onto the new site - that is not improvement, it is expanding what is already there.
The Design and Access statement explains that the brief was to “provide a sustainable urban extension to the east of Whittlesey
”. That statement itself is a direct contradiction to the statement on Page 6 of the Guidance on Development Plan Policies for Housing & Employment
published by Fenland in October 2004, which highlights that there should be a lesser scale of development in Whittlesey (it is impossible to see how something that is describe as an urban extension to any Market Town could be viewed as anything other than a major development).
One way that this proposal aims to minimise the impact on the A605 is by way of an access onto Drybread Road. This provides a route which will link to the A605 by sending cars past Alderman Jacobs School and down either onto Cemetery Road roundabout or down Orchard Street and further clog up the traffic lights at the junction with Bassenhally Road. Increasing the traffic down minor roads as a way of minimising impact on the A605 is absolutely not acceptable. Further to this, there are already huge concerns about the situation in and around AJS at picking up and dropping off time. Any development which adds to that significant situation cannot be acceptable and I am looking forward to seeing how Highways comments to the planning committee deal with this.
It says a great deal about Larkfleet’s knowledge of Whittlesey that on Page 15 of the Design and Access Statement
they call our local secondary school ‘Sir Henry Smith Community College’
Page 26 discussed the fact that a new local centre would be created to provide ‘neighbourhood amenities’
. What this means is that new shops would be created which would further affect the viability of our already struggling Town Centre.
The overhyping of the footpath and cycling links is a huge concern. There are links being provided into Feldale and onto existing paths - but nothing beyond this, so the statement that the development ‘encourages a permeable network of footpaths and cycleways’
is stretching the point somewhat (p26).
Page 28 claims that the site has good public transport provision. That is quite an interesting comment. Most people I speak to in the rest of Whittlesey complain that our public transport is barely adequate with poor train facilities and a bus system that is good during the day, but not anything like sufficient outside of normal working hours.
The section on Community Engagement
in the Design and Access Statement
is an exercise in spin that would make any politician proud. At no place does it say that the developer fully engaged in Fenland’s pre-application protocol, although anyone reading it at first glance would think that is indeed the case. Let me make it plain, Planning Officers have confirmed to me on numerous occasions that Larkfleet Homes did not comply with Fenland’s pre-application protocol.
Whilst this section does mention the community event that was held in July 2009, and also that many residents submitted comment forms, it does not say how the application has been amended in light of those comments, nor does it summarise what they were. My suspicion is that this is because they have been unable to deal with them. How many people commented on the unsuitability of an access onto Drybread Road and past Alderman Jacobs School? It is totally unfeasible to think that no-one mentioned this (not least because I know how many people have mentioned it to me) - yet that unsuitable access is still there in the planning application.
The final issue is the most important. The major access is via the A605 and includes provision of a new roundabout. Given that we have a barely adequate public transport system and that 80% of people in Whittlesey work in Peterborough, we can safely assume that the vast majority of residents from this site will be travelling by car, along the A605, through Whittlesey, across King’s Dyke crossing and into Peterborough on a rgular basis. The impact of this is exactly why Whittlesey has been set aside for a lesser scale of development. Until Whittlesey has feasible plans for a bypass, this development must be kicked into touch.
It may be that at some point in future the site could be considered - if, for example, it came with a significant bypass contribution to overcome the huge highways issues that it is likely to create. My suggestion to Larkfleet Homes would be to withdraw this application and bring the site into the Local Development Framework process so it can be examined alongside consideration of the infrastructure problems that exist in the Town. That way, any possible development would contribute to solutions in the Town, Fenland and the County, instead of make existing problems worse.