Opposition to housing plans in Cambridge

PARISH leaders and residents in Slimbridge are opposing plans for a controversial housing development.

Slimbridge Parish Council rejected plans for a 24-home estate on land in Cambridge off Dursley Road, near the A38.

Developer First Step Homes, working in conjunction with social housing provider Guinness Hermitage, hopes to offer 50 per cent affordable housing and 50 per cent open market on the site.

The parish council was almost unanimous in its decision, with just one councillor voting in favour of the scheme at the council meeting on Monday, November 19.

More than 30 residents from Cambridge and Slimbridge attended the meeting to express their concerns with the planned development.

Slimbridge Parish Council clerk Helen Dunn said that the council’s objection was based on the number of homes and the poor infrastructure in Cambridge.

The 2010 Slimbridge parish plan identified a need for affordable housing, with 13 per cent of respondents reporting that family members would need affordable housing within the next five years.

Villagers originally hoped this project would echo the popular starter home development in Moorend Lane, Slimbridge, when six homes were built 15 to 20 years ago.

However the size of this proposed housing development has now tripled from eight to 24 homes.

Slimbridge Cllr Mike Stayte said people were upset about the increased number of proposed dwellings.

"It drives a coach and horses through the local plan," he said. "Anyone could put up ‘affordable’ housing on a field near a village."

Berryl Howell, who has lived in Cambridge for 36 years, said she was pleased with the parish council’s decision.

"The density of the houses is far too great and the access is bad off the Old Dursley Road.

"Everyone just felt that is not what the village wanted and needed."

However senior land manager for First Step Homes, Edward Lewis, said the development’s size was the only way to make it affordable.

"We’re not able to make it smaller as it is not economically viable and the margins are very tight as it is," he said.

"If the county council looked at my appraisal in the first place then they could see why it cannot be done to a smaller scale."

He added: "The properties are going to look great when they are done and be a real benefit to the community."

The application will be decided at a meeting of Stroud District Council's development control committee but no date has yet been set.

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