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Controversy as 55 new homes approved for Linton after tight vote at South Cambridgeshire District Council

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Final approval has been granted for 55 new homes in Linton in a closely contested vote by South Cambridgeshire’s planning committee.

Outline planning permission had already been approved for the site in 2017, but one reserved matters application was rejected earlier this year.

An artist's impression of the 55 homes. Picture: Abbey Developments Ltd / NC Architects Ltd (21581541)
An artist's impression of the 55 homes. Picture: Abbey Developments Ltd / NC Architects Ltd (21581541)

The committee heard that owing to the time elapsed since the original outline planning permission was granted, this was the applicant’s last chance to apply for reserved matters approval.

The agent for the developer, Abbey Developments Ltd, argued those issues that led to the previous rejection had been addressed.

The homes will be built in Bartlow Road, and 22 out of the 55 will be deemed affordable.

The planning committee voted five to four in favour of the application on Wednesday (November 13).

Speaking for Linton Parish Council, Enid Bald said afterwards: “I think it is an appalling decision. It is going to affect the landscape dreadfully.

“The effect on the wider landscape is irreparable.”

She had argued during the meeting that “the design is not high quality” and “the constraints of the flood plain have been underestimated”.

She said the amendments made since the last planning application was rejected are “misleading, immaterial and vexatious, not addressing the real issues”.

And she said there had been no consultation with the parish council in the interim, which she said “just seems rude”.

Cllr Anna Bradnam also raised concerns over the site’s potential vulnerability to flooding, saying it had been impacted “in recent history, just two years ago”.

The agent said that the site “does not impinge on the area that was previously flooded” and added that a flood risk strategy had been developed and had not been challenged.

Cllr Bradnam said there was evidence a flood in 2017 had affected the development site, but the agent for the application said the Environment Agency is the responsible authority “and if they are aware of it then they would have taken that into account in their recommendations”.

Cllr Deborah Richards said: “I’m very disappointed but maybe not surprised that a developer has not taken on board much, it seems to me, the concerns of the parish council and the local members. So little has been done to rectify the quite genuine and understandable concerns.

“We really do need to make sure as an authority that we back our policies about protecting the character of our villages.”

John Batchelor, the councillor for Linton, usually sits as the chair of the planning committee, but excused himself owing to a conflict of interest relating to his son’s business relations to the applicant.

Cllr Batchelor said “it was very clear” that the issues raised that led to the previous rejection had not been addressed. Speaking about the design, he said there had been “very little change since last time”.

He said it was not appropriate for the context of the area, and said “what it does do is cause substantial harm”.

He described it as “too large and too urban”.

Speaking after the meeting he said it was “a disaster” and “undermines the whole idea of it being a village”.

Cllr Peter Fane however told the meeting: “It does seem to me that there has been some considerable changes to the proposal”.

Cllr Martin Cahn described it as “acceptable” and Cllr Milnes said it met the test of addressing those matters reserved to be decided by the committee, and as a consequence he said: “My view is that, reluctantly, we should vote to approve.”

The council report said: “Whilst the concerns of the parish council and local residents are acknowledged in relation to the location and scale of the development, distance to services, flood risk, highway safety, ecology, heritage assets and the impact upon the character and appearance of the area amongst other issues, no objections have been received from statutory consultees in relation to these matters.

“The changes are considered to further improve the quality of the scheme to ensure that it preserves the character and appearance of the area and fits comfortably within its rural context. The reserved matters details for appearance, layout and scale of the development are considered acceptable by officers and the application is therefore recommended for approval subject to conditions.”

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