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Linear park for Clay Farm in Cambridge finally planned – 10 years after development signed off

A new linear park will be built for a 295-home Cambridge estate – 10 years on from the development’s sign-off.

Councillors said they would have liked to see more work on the plans to address the community concerns, but that they had no planning reasons to refuse the application.

The Clay Farm development. Picture: Google
The Clay Farm development. Picture: Google

The park’s design was a condition of a reserved matters application for 295 homes agreed in 2013, following overall outline approval for the 2,300-home Clay Farm development in 2010.

Developer Vistry Homes submitted a design for the park next to Baker Lane, including creating new grass covered mounds, with logs installed for children to play on.

Some neighbours said the design did not reflect the community’s wishes, complaining it was “too structured” for a grassy area that was currently an “open space that children are using for play”.

Joseph Saunders told Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council’s joint development control committee on July 19 that people were “largely in favour of the proposals”, but wanted “unnecessary obtrusive elements” removed.

He said the changes would make the park easier and cheaper to maintain in the long term and raised safety concerns about a proposed pathway through the park next to a planned picnic bench. He also had concerns about removing existing trees for a new tree planting plan.

A representative of the developer said it was not in the company’s interests to remove existing trees and was “happy to commit” to keeping them where there were no technical reasons for needing to remove them.

The design was developed after speaking to people in the community and council officers, said the representative, but noted that “unfortunately” the views of officers and residents “did not quite align”.

The representative said: “We believe this smaller scheme represents an appropriate compromise, designed for future communities as well as those who currently use it.”

Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins (Lib Dem, Caldecote) said the community had already waited years for the park plans to come and was frustrated the design was “not quite there, as the community has said”.

“Surely you could have waited another month or something?” she said. “It is frustrating but we as a planning committee have to look at what is in front of us now and determine it on material grounds. We do not have choice.”

The city council is due to take over management of the park, so it was noted some changes could be made without planning permission, including around planting.

The committee voted unanimously in favour of approving the plans.

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