The outline proposals for the redevelopment of the St Clements Hospital site
in planning terms are reasonable; overall, the site will be largely cleared
apart from the locally listed Victorian central block and some remaining
health care use at the north east corner. The vast majority of the trees,
the golf course and the social club will remain. This will allow a total of
227 residential units to be built (at one time the proposal was for 500
units). However, the Officers recommended refusal as the affordable housing
suggested is 4.5% as against IBC's gold standard of 35%; further the section
106 offer was £180,000 against an Officer calculated £1,500,000.
The officers clearly feel that there is considerable room for profit for the
developer which was, of course, strenuously denied. The financial
considerations will be adjudicated on by an independent adviser which the
public will not know about, as under the Local Government Act it is
"commercially confidential". I find this perfectly legally correct approach
incompatible with our current aspirations in transparency in all aspects of
our governance. The Bill dates back to 1974 but it's not likely that the
coalition will change it.
I should add that there is a strong tide of objection to the proposals
coming from the Chilton Road area.
Signs of the revival have hit planning with a 10% year-on-year increase in
applications some of which are for intermediate size housing schemes.
The Planning Committee met on 4.12.2013 to consider St Clements, as well as
Tesco (which was withdrawn).
November's Society-organised outing to view new housing developments in
Newhall Be, Harlow (2,750 homes plus primary school), the Civic Trust
winning Accordia, Cambridge (378 dwellings) and Cambridge Southern Fringe
(3,600 homes plus schools). Guided tours were provided on the first two.
This 'educational visit' was primarily intended for interested councillors,
planners, members of the Conservation & Design Panel and
Suffolk Architects and was a great success.
Cover, issue 194