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Plans for home close to wildlife sanctuary in Cambridge rejected again





Plans to build a new house next door to a bird sanctuary in Cambridge have been rejected by councillors.

City council members had raised concerns that Professor Cathy Speed’s proposed two-storey, flat-roofed house in part of a garden could harm protected species living at the Adams Road Bird Sanctuary.

Illustrative image of house proposed to be built behind 18 Adams Road, Cambridge. Image taken from planning documents. Picture: The House Designers
Illustrative image of house proposed to be built behind 18 Adams Road, Cambridge. Image taken from planning documents. Picture: The House Designers

A previous plan had been rejected by the council and an appeal was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate. The new plan was “substantially reduced in scale”, with the prefabricated house being built off-site and assembled on-site in around six weeks.

John Mason, representing the applicant, told a planning committee meeting on 6 March that it was a “modern, sustainable home” with a buffer area of trees and other vegetation between it and the sanctuary. He said modelling of light spillage from the new home showed light-sensitive bats could continue to live in the sanctuary area, and the garden area where the house was proposed was not of “great value” to protected species in the sanctuary.

Cllr Simon Smith (Lab, Castle), who ‘called in’ the application so it could be debated, said the applicant had not undertaken all of the surveys required, and that the plans only recognised some of the known wildlife in the area. In particular, he said the applicant’s documents only listed 40 per cent of the bat species the sanctuary said lived in the area.

An ecology officer at the council said there could have been more surveys undertaken, but they had not considered this would change the recommendation or the conditions proposed, and had therefore not pursued it. They also said they were requesting a condition to limit light levels along the bat corridors to “less than moonlight”.

Cllr Katie Thornburrow (Lab, Petersfield) could not understand why the additional surveys had not been carried out when it was known the application would be “controversial”. She also raised concerns about the established trees that would be cut down.

She said: “The protected and endangered bats do not need new twigs of trees. This existing habitat is going to be negatively affected by this development.”

Cllr Naomi Bennett (Green, Abbey) said the house had an “attractive design” and was “very sustainable” but she had problems with its location near the sanctuary.

The plan had positives, such as the biodiverse roof and the buffer, said Cllr Katie Porrer (Lib Dem, Market), but she had concerns that light from windows on the first floor of the house facing the sanctuary could impact light-sensitive wildlife.

At a vote, the plans were refused.



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