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Redevelopment plans for Fanshawe Road in Cambridge alarm neighbours’ group

Fears over the environmental impact of plans to demolish 30 homes and replace them with 84 new properties have been raised by a neighbourhood group.

The site in Fanshawe Road, Cambridge, is currently home to 30 ageing homes – 20 council apartments and 10 leasehold apartments – built in the 1950s.

Fanshawe Neighbours’ Group
Fanshawe Neighbours’ Group

The council says the properties are no longer cost effective to maintain or renovate and has put forward plans to replace them.

But Fanshawe Neighbours’ Group is concerned about the effect of the development on the estate’s green space, which currently provides habitats for a number of different species including migrating swifts, pipistrelle bats and hedgehogs.

They fear the development also threatens the region’s already depleted water supply which risks more loss of the area’s precious trees.

Cambridge City Council says water usage on the new development will be restricted to less than 99 litres per person per day to reduce the impact on local resources.

Pip Wilson, of Sterne Close, which faces the development, said: “Fanshawe Amenity Space holds protected status as a green space recognised by the district council (one of 681 in Cambridgeshire) and therefore should be as protected from development as the green spaces associated with Cambridge University colleges. The current plan’s proposal to ‘move’ the green space is in breach of its protected status.”

The plans, submitted by Cambridge Investment Partnership (CIP) – a joint partnership between the city council and housebuilder Hill – propose 45 affordable and 39 private homes.

The affordable homes will be made up of 34 properties for social rent and 11 for intermediate rent. But the neighbours’ group say the area is already vulnerable to flooding and fear the plans will stress the system further.

David Conlan, whose home is located next door but one to the development, has already experienced his back garden flooding on a number of occasions.

“There is of course a limit to the capacity of the current infrastructure to efficiently drain storm water and foul water. The proposed substantial increase in the number of housing units is likely to stress the system even more. It is notable that the lead local flood authority objects to the proposed development because of insufficient detail,” he said.

Consultations have been conducted with existing residents, who are in the process of being rehomed to facilitate the redevelopment.

The proposal includes the construction of 76 homes within four apartment buildings, with a further eight houses positioned on the eastern and western boundaries of the site.

This includes four wheelchair-accessible homes for council tenants, exceeding planning policy requirements by five per cent.

Steve Holliday, whose partner is undergoing lengthy hospital treatment due to a chronic health condition and is awaiting a multivisceral transplant, lives directly alongside the land to be developed. He is concerned not only about the effect on her health due to the noise, dust and proximity of the development, but is also worried about the effect on local services.

“Davy Road flats have also been marked for development and are going in front of planning scrutiny on 27 January. Together with the development happening around my home, there is going to be even greater pressure on local services.

“We have one doctors’ surgery, one dental surgery, one small pharmacy (usually with a queue outside), one small post office and only small local shops in the Coleridge ward. In addition, there are only four buses a day – the 114 service – that is the nearest service to serve this area.”

There are also question marks over whether the development will meet local housing needs. The council had initially planned for all the properties to be for social housing, but has since reduced this to 54 per cent ‘affordable dwellings’ and 46 per cent ‘market dwellings’.

Anton, who lives on Fanshawe Road, said: “The use of the term ‘affordable’ is questionable because only those whose incomes are well above average can afford to rent a so-called ‘affordable’ home.”

Sarah Nicmanis, of Fanshawe Road, agrees: “I have heard that there are nearly 2,500 households on the waiting list for a social home in Cambridge alone, and the same number in Cambridgeshire are categorised as homeless, including children, living in temporary accommodation as well as the high number of rough sleepers in our city.

“The council has a responsibility to provide as many social homes as they possibly can in this cost of living crisis.”

City councillor Elliot Tong (Green, Abbey) objects to the development, and said: “Over the Christmas period, I had the opportunity to sit down with residents living around Fanshawe Road to discuss their feelings on the potential redevelopment.

“Overwhelmingly, I heard concerns that the area’s sense of community might be ruined by Cambridge City Council’s unambitious targets for affordable housing on the site and are disappointed that the original plans have been significantly rolled back. I support their ambition for the city – we can do better.”

Responding to the concerns raised by the neighbourhood group, Cambridge Investment Partnership (CIP) – a joint partnership between Cambridge City Council and housebuilder Hill – released a detailed statement.

On the impact on the local environment, CIP said: “The plans have taken into account re-providing improved green spaces so there is no loss in area.

“We will be enriching the open space with a new play area and amenities that families can enjoy, alongside creating a green corridor with enhanced links between Fanshawe Road and the Coleridge Recreation Ground. All homes will also have views of green open space.

“Trees and wildflowers will be planted to achieve a net biodiversity gain of 35 per cent. Existing mature trees will also be preserved.”

Discussing flooding, CIP confirmed: “A flood risk assessment and drainage strategy has been prepared to support the application.

“The site is at low risk of sewage flooding and surface water flooding, and it has also been demonstrated that the development can operate safely and without increasing flooding risk elsewhere.

“Sustainable drainage systems have been included within the proposals including permeable paving and all flat roofs will feature green roofs for effective rainwater management.”

Turning to the impact on local services, CIP promised: “Contributions towards local services will be negotiated prior to the granting of any planning permissions.”

And on the impact on the water supply, CIP said: “To reduce the impact on local water resources, passive saving measures will be put in place to allow for more efficient flow of water to taps, showers and toilets, with the aim of there being an average of 99 litres usage per person, per day.”

CIP said it was meeting local housing needs with the plans, stating: “At Fanshawe Road we are proposing 39 market sale homes, with a further 45 that will be new council homes.

“This means a net increase of 25 rented homes into council stock. It is important that we provide new developments across the city that are socially inclusive, diverse and have a mixture of homes that reflect the local housing need.

“At the same time, we must balance financial viability, the likelihood of successful grant applications from Homes England and development costs.

“This proposed development will provide the partnership with further funds that can be reinvested into our programme to deliver more new homes across the city.”

For more on the development, visit fanshaweroad.co.uk.

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