I am still really confused by the decision to grant planning
permission at the Glenfields/Snowley Park site. I could ask questions about almost
every aspect of it. But, the area I am most unhappy about is highways. I have
been putting in some challenge since the planning decision and have not got
satisfactory answers. So, I have decided
to ask some questions publicly.
The first issue that really, really concerns me is that it
was specifically stated at planning committee that the current approval that is
being built out to the rear of 148 Stonald Road was not factored into the highways
assessments. This is worrying, not just because of that issue, but because it
then begs the question what else hasn’t been factored in. Residents deserve answers to this and they
need confidence that the application was properly considered. So my first
existing planning consents were factored into the traffic statistics? Specifically what consideration was given to:
The existing approval for 460 homes at
The Sainsbury Supermarket and country park at
The business park that has approval on Eastrea
The development to the rear of 148 Stonald Road
The old nursery site along Peterborough Road
which has now got permission
The second issue, which I am wrestling with is the issue of
sustainability. That is, the expressed
need for the planning system to work to make communities more sustainable in
public transport terms. The National
Planning Policy Framework has extensive things to say about sustainability and
it is clear to me that, from a public transport perspective, Whittlesey is not
a sustainable Town. This is what
paragraph 50 of the Framework says:
“Encouragement should be given to solutions which support reductions in
greenhouse gas emissions and reduce congestion. In preparing Local Plans, local
planning authorities should therefore support a pattern of development which,
where reasonable to do so, facilitates the use of sustainable modes of
Let’s be clear where Whittlesey is; our rail service is
dreadful, despite our Town being within commutable distance to London; our bus
service offers nothing outside of normal working hours; and the green wheel
cycle route into Peterborough is not safe at night. It is also true that 80% of
Whittlesey residents commute out of the town to work.
committee report about the Snowley Park/Glenfield development recognised this
when it said this:
is anticipated that 70% of the trips generated will be by the car driver, 3%
public transport, 3% walking and 3% bicycle.”
That clearly states that this development is not a
sustainable development – less than 10% of the journeys from this site will be
by sustainable methods. The reason for
this is clear, if you live in Whittlesey and work out of Town, unless you can
guarantee you will never work outside of normal hours you have to use a car to
get to work. For a Market Town the size of Whittlesey that sits within
commutable distance of Peterborough and within commutable distance of Cambridge
and London - two economic powerhouses. This situation is totally unacceptable,
yet we are having development forced
upon us that is clearly unsustainable and adds to our woes.
So, my next questions are these:
2. 2. Do Fenland District Council and Cambridgeshire
County Council accept that, in terms of transport, Whittlesey is an
unsutainable location. If not where is the evidence it is?
The committee report for Snowley Park/Glemfields
mentions a tiny contribution to the Market Town Transport Strategy,, a
questionable scheme of offering new residents a few free bus tickets and a
contribution to Station improvements.
Where is the evidence that this will work and what evidence that proves
this will work was presented to committee?
Do they accept that it is not good enough to accept money without
evidencing what it will be used for and how it will make the Town more
4. 4. What public consultation was carried out that
specifically described the proposed contributions so residents had an
opportunity to challenge and make alternative suggestions?
5. 5. Do officers accept that Snowley Park/Glenfields
development will put more traffic along Stonald Road on the route into
Whittlesey Town Centre (which is the recognised cycle route that extends the
green wheel into Whittlesey). Do they accept that putting more traffic along a
route which does not segregate bicycles makes that route less sustainable! Not
My next point is about consultation with Peterborough City
Council. I am glad to say we are moving towards a situation where Kings Dyke
crossing is going to be sorted. That is great news. However, that is increasingly becoming only
part of the story. Whittlesey people know what happens when more cars are
forced onto the A605- we see the results every year when the North Bank and Wash
Road close – and one thing we must do is make sure that we don’t force more
cars to use the North Bank – the deaths and serious incidents of last year are
all the evidence you need for that. What
we, as residents, know is that the problem is increasingly about both Kings
Dyke and Stanground.
Given that we know Whittlesey residents are likely to work
in Peterborough and that, for the most, they are going to drive, it goes
without saying that more housing in Whittlesey means more queues at Stanground,
making the commute from Whittlesey increasingly impractical and making life for
Stanground residents increasingly difficult, and more importantly adding to,
not reducing, greenhouse gas emissions – a specific requirement of the NPPF as
6. 6. What consultation was carried out with
Peterborough City council about the impact of this application on Stanground?
7. What discussions have taken place about
improving the cycle route along the North Bank to make it navigable at night?
My final point is about housing. Fenland’s draft Core
Strategy identified that Whittlesey should have only 1,000 new homes in the
period to 2031, largely because of our poor transport infrastructure – a
decision that was supported by an inspector.
We are already reaching that limit and the last time I challenged about
it, I was told there was nothing they could do to enforce that 1,000 limit. They have to find a way.
8. 8. What method are Fenland going to use to make
that housing limit enforceable? If they
can’t what are they going to do to give us a sustainable transport system.
I am pretty sure if I thought longer, I could ask more
questions, but I think the responses to these will ensure we get the gist of
whether there was adequate thought about the impact of this application on
Whittlesey or whether our current unsustainable transport position has been
properly considered. I will make sure
both senior planners at Fenland, and officers at Cambridgeshire County Council are
aware of this blog and I will publish the responses.