Proposed Linton housing scheme refused by councillors
Plans to build 26 affordable homes in Linton have been rejected by South Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee.
A council planning officer had recommended councillors approve the development on land behind Paynes Meadow.
Six councillors voted against the proposal, arguing the development fails to respect or retain the local character.
Two councillors voted in favour of approving the application, and one councillor abstained.
“This is just a project that is not good enough,” said committee chair, Cllr John Batchelor, who is a councillor for Linton.
“We shouldn’t accept second best just because it’s social housing, it shouldn’t be anything different. The standards we require should be as high as any.”
He said refusal would give the applicant the opportunity to “go away and come back with something better”.
“I’m extremely disappointed with the design,” said Cllr Deborah Roberts, adding “it seems to me to be little boxes made of ticky-tacky”.
“The design – what a let down in this day and age. We should really be seeking the best sort of design.
"We can do it – we know we can do it,” she said, giving Foxton as an example of building high-quality affordable homes.
She described the Linton development as “quite large” and said it would be “extending the push into the countryside”.
“Why all this bland all-the-sameness?” she asked.
Cllr Roberts said she grew up in social housing and said “it is not nice” for the houses to be segregated and noticeably different from other homes.
Cllr Peter Topping said he was concerned residents would “feel isolated” and be too far from the village’s amenities.
Cllr Peter Fane, who was in favour of the proposals, said “there comes a point where we have to look at the opportunities where they arise” and adding that the area has a need for more affordable homes.
The council report on the application said there is an “identified local need” of affordable housing in the village, but an officer clarified this does not include homes that have been granted planning permission where construction has not started.
“I question whether this is required at all given that we have two planning permissions already in the bag as it were,” Cllr Henry Batchelor said, referencing to two such projects.
The developer, Hundred Houses Society, said in its application: “The proposed dwellings are designed in a traditional style using materials that match the local area and the character of the area”.
Hannah Northrop, representing the agent for the applicant, told the committee the development would provide homes for people who live in the area or who have a close connection to Linton, and said there is “a need to press ahead”.
Linton Parish Council opposed the plan. Its chair of planning, Enid Bald, said “plans to provide social housing are welcomed, but the designs, layout and the effect on the landscape makes this application unacceptable”.
She objected to clustering social housing, and said the homes would be a 1.5km walk from the nearest bus stop for Cambridge.
Ms Bald also raised eyebrows with a niche concern over malaria carrying mosquitoes.
“There are mosquitoes in the area,” she said. “We have a thing called Fen ague which you may remember. It’s a form of malaria, and we do still have the mosquitoes”.
“The tropics of Linton,” quipped the chair John Batchelor.
Fen ague was once a common disease in the area, but was eradicated in the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century.
More by this authorBen Hatton, Local Democracy Reporter