'Controversial' 97-home development in Potton refused - protecting community garden and 'precious' heathland and wildlife

But Tilia Homes has said it would consider appealing the decision
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Potton residents are celebrating after Central Beds Council (CBC) rejected a "highly controversial" application which was claimed to threaten local wildlife.

Friends and neighbours are applauding CBC's decision to refuse planning permission sought by Tilia Homes to build 97 homes on land South of the Ridgeway.

Townsfolk claimed that the site was home to many wildlife species and contained "precious acid heathland", while they had established a community garden and bee highway, too.

Mr Fuller's visit; Busy Bees Community Garden.Mr Fuller's visit; Busy Bees Community Garden.
Mr Fuller's visit; Busy Bees Community Garden.

Resident Nicki Coughtrey, said: "I am so happy that our community garden will still be enjoyed by all the local residents; it gives people such a lift in these times to be involved in such a great project! We all really appreciate the support from the CBC councillors who voted 10 against the development with two abstentions."

Richard Fuller, MP for North East Bedfordshire, who visited on June 26 to see how the development would impact the community, said: "Having visited the potential site and having spoken to local residents I am very pleased that the council committee decided to turn the proposal."

In November 2019, Kier (now Tilia Homes) submitted plans to Central Bedfordshire Council for a housing estate that it withdrew in the spring of 2020, then later resubmitted.

After the resubmission, residents claim they were outraged to learn that CBC was planning to rip out the verges down Sutton Mill Road, "destroying" their beautiful community garden to make way for heavy plant machinery to access the development.

Mr Fuller visits the community. Photo: Nicki Coughtrey.Mr Fuller visits the community. Photo: Nicki Coughtrey.
Mr Fuller visits the community. Photo: Nicki Coughtrey.

Nicki said: "We started as a very small group of friends and neighbours who have been really concerned about the diminishing green spaces in and around our Town of Potton. We all wanted to do something positive to try and redress the balance: we have had an extensive amount of development in Potton over the past few years.

"We then found out that the beautiful countryside at the back of the Paddocks where we live had had an application for 100 houses.

"The land is home to protected lizards, but so much more: frogs, newts, voles, mice, foxes, dear, and hedgehogs to name a few of the animals that use the space, as well as hobbies, swifts, swallows, and owls. We had a cuckoo in the field during the first lockdown and every day the kite flies over.

"The land is part of the Greensands Country and contains precious acid heathland, which is slowly becoming fractured and rare.

Mr Fuller's visit to the community. Photo: Nicki Coughtrey.Mr Fuller's visit to the community. Photo: Nicki Coughtrey.
Mr Fuller's visit to the community. Photo: Nicki Coughtrey.

"We were shocked and saddened and started a campaign to object."

The residents are delighted that the application has been rejected and would like to thank Mr Fuller and Central Beds and Potton Town Councillor, Adam Zerny, for their support.

A Central Bedfordshire Council spokeswoman, said: "Members of the Development Management Committee resolved to refuse planning permission for the development at land to the South of the Ridgeway, Potton."

A spokesperson for Tilia Homes (formerly Kier Living), said: “We are extremely disappointed that our planning application has been refused despite the site being allocated for

development by Central Bedfordshire Council and our application being recommended for approval by the council’s planning officer.

“We have listened to local feedback throughout the process and submitted a proposal which provides both private and affordable homes, in keeping with the local area, and community benefits that go over and above policy requirements.

“We took on board the concerns raised around ecology on site and submitted a comprehensive ecological strategy which included a range of wildlife protection measures and sustainability features. These were recognised in the officer’s report as having adequately addressed the issues raised.

“We will now consider our next steps, including the option of taking the site through the appeals process.”

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