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District approves 500 home garden village

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East Cambridgeshire DC has approved plans for a 500 homes garden village at Kennett, promoted by a local community land trust and due to be developed by a council-owned company.

Kennett Garden Village enjoys support from Kennett Community Land Trust, which was set up after a public meeting in the village in 2016. However, it has also faced active opposition from some local residents with more than 150 letters of objection being presented to the council. 

It seeks to provide housing, workspace buildings and community facilities on a 40 hectares site near to the Kennett station and main roads.

Within the proposed development, 150 homes would be affordable and 25 self-builds. There will also be a new primary school.

A council report that recommended approval of the application said: “The development would meet an identified need for new housing within the district, while contributing a mix of housing, including affordable, employment, a local centre, public open space, greenways and education, while providing pedestrian and cycle connections both through the site and to existing development.”

The development is expected to be carried out by East Cambridgeshire’s Palace Green Homes, which the council established in 2016 to help tackle the shortage of new housing in the district.

It funds and delivers housing developments with differing tenures, with profits re-invested by the council.

East Cambridgeshire is an area of high housing demand has become involved in a dispute with the Planning Inspectorate over changes to its local plan concerning housing numbers and local character.

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It sought last year to update its 2015 plan to give greater protection to the characteristics of villages when development occurs.

But East Cambridgeshire said in February that when it submitted its plan the inspector, without explanation, demanded changes that included significant and unacceptable increases in housing numbers in Soham, Littleport and Sutton and deletion of the proposed protection for village character.

The council said then: “The requirement to add housing numbers on suggested allocated sites will not only be unwanted by communities, who have fought hard to ensure that sites respect the character of the area, but these sites are untested as to whether they are actually capable of delivering the additional numbers.”

East Cambridgeshire has now therefore withdrawn the proposed updated plan and reverted to the 2015 version.

It said: “There is no point in continuing with the current examination [by the inspector] when it will result in a local plan that not only disempowers local communities but is so significantly changed from that submitted that it is no longer East Cambridgeshire’s local plan but one created by the Inspector with limited explanation or rationale.”

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