On Wednesday 24 March 2021, 10.00 am, deep in cyberspace, Super Matt the super squirrel defeated The Thing From Outer Space!
More prosaically Cambridge City Council’s planning committee held a virtual meeting, in which the application to build a block of student flats on St Matthew’s Piece by developers Federated Hermes was considered.
Planning Officers recommended refusal of the application, although there were certain aspects of the local plan and of planning considerations which the development would have satisfied. You can read/download the full officer report (PDF 3.3MB) here (pp187-240).
Of course Super Matt had help from all of the community and Friends of St Matthew’s Piece had massive support for their objection to these plans.
A shoutout to Val Neal who gave a good presentation at the online meeting!Agnès Aubert, Sleaford Street, on Nextdoor
Would you be able to display Friends of St Matthew’s Piece’s new ‘Refused’ poster in your window?
If yes, please email Email Friends.email@example.com to request a copy of the poster to print out. Or just smile and celebrate every time you pass one in the area! Thank you all for your crucial efforts to protect our park.
Of course, any further attempts from these (or any other) developers may emerge. The community would then choose its response.
Everyone’s support and active contributions to preserving, celebrating and protecting St Matthew’s Piece would be very welcome!Val Neal, North Petersfield, on Nextdoor
As others have posted out, the developers could appeal or submit a modified proposal, so local residents will have to keep being vigilant.
What happens next?
The applicant now has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against our decision to refuse this application. The appeal must be lodged within 6 months of the date of this decision. In the event of an appeal being lodged, and if you have previously commented, we will notify you and forward any comments you may have made to the Planning Inspectorate.
The applicant also has the right to re-submit an amended scheme which may seek to overcome our reasons for refusal. We will notify you again if such an application is submitted.Notification from Greater Cambridge Joint Planning to people who commented on the application
However, the redoubtable Roy Stamp strikes a positive note…
In Romsey Terrace, we found that fighting an appeal made residents more determined: the residents won in the end!Roy Stamp, Romsey, on Nextdoor
It is difficult to second guess what this multi-national investment fund will do next.
It is possible that when they bought the site from Chard Robinson they were told, based on the previous scheme that was consulted on but was never actually submitted, that there was development potential.
At the planning committee their agent Bidwells claimed that pre application advice given by the planners at that time was positive, but this has little status as it is not binding on the Council. It is a very weak argument and I was surprised it was even mentioned.
The main problem, if they appeal, is the fairly new National Planning Policy Framework introduced by the LibDem Tory coalition government in 2012. This planning directive considerably weakened the power of local councils’ decision-making powers and introduced an overarching presumption in favour of development. It also gave more power to planning inspectors to award the applicants appeal costs adainst local councils.
This happened five years ago in Station Road where the City turned down plans for a massive office block. BrookGate won the appeal and the Council was forced to pay them £175,000. The reasons for refusal in this case by Cambridge City Council are, however, very robust and are taken from the approved local plan so we are in a strong position.
If Federated Hermes are realistic they will give up as, given the strength of feeling, the local Councillors will undoubtably put considerable funds into the defence of the Councils position at any appeal hearing.Local activist and fount of knowledge on planning, Frank Gawthrop, South Petersfield, on Nextdoor
If you would like to join Friends of St Matthew’s Piece or assist in any of the issues raised in this blogpost, kindly hosted by Mill Road Bridges, please email Friends of St Matthew’s Piece.