The community’s ‘Saving Raylands’ campaign continues

Many people have asked for an update on the threatened demolition of the house at 291 Hills Road and its replacement with two unpleasant blocks of flats by local company Gibson Developments. After the refusal of permission for the development by the City Council’s Planning Committee in April, the company has returned with a whole series of actions.

Firstly, you may have seen that a notice of demolition has been posted on the site and that fencing now surrounds it. Sadly, the owners are allowed to demolish it without permission for a replacement, which it seems to me would be a contemptuous gesture towards both the council and the community. The news was covered in the Cambridge Independent here.

You may also have noticed that Gibson Developments has also put the house on the market with Carter Jonas, the local property advisors who have been supporting them throughout this affair. And that’s not the end of it: the developer has also come back with revised plans for the site!

One of the grounds for refusal by the Planning Committee was that the Local Plan requires a development of this size to incorporate an affordable housing element. The original plans did not do this. You won’t be surprised to read that the revised plans have not been changed to include affordable housing; they just have 1 flat fewer, in a further attempt to avoid that requirement.

What can we do now?

A remarkable group of local residents, calling themselves the ‘Saving Raylands’ Campaign, have been fighting Gibson Developments’ plans from the outset. They were helped immeasurably by 171 objections from friends and neighbours across the area. The group is once again asking you to register an objection to the revised plans. They’re helping to show Gibson Developments (and other ‘developers’ in the future) that we care about our area, and we will do everything we can to make their exploitation of the community as difficult and expensive as possible.

You should still object to the revised proposal even if you objected to the original proposal. Each person in a household can send in individual comments. The planners only consider comments which relate to “relevant planning matters”, so the ‘Saving Raylands’ Campaign is suggesting 7 grounds for objecting within the Cambridge Local Plan 2006 (CLP 2006), listed below. All or any of these may be of concern to you.

When is the last date for people to object?
Fri 29 June 2018

Where is there more information available?

How do I make an objection?

or

or

  • Write to Charlotte Burton, Senior Planning Officer, Cambridge City Council, PO Box 700, Cambridge, CB1 OJH. You must quote reference 18/0808/FUL.

Grounds for objection

  1. There is no case for demolishing “Raylands” (section 5/4 of CLP 2006)
    This is the most important issue! The house has been continuously occupied as a family home since 1913, has interesting architectural features and is perfectly habitable. The developer hasn’t explored options to retain, convert and extend the building, which could remain a large family home or be converted into flats.
  2. The plans do not safeguard environmental character (section 3/3 of CLP 2006)
    The landscape plan only keeps 12 trees out of a total of 29 trees, with the felling of large trees and the loss of hedges and shrubs. There are no specific plans for replacement.
  3. The application doesn’t respond to the local context (section 3/4 of CLP 2006)
    The development of a very large modern block of flats doesn’t fit in with the Hills Road Character Area, which is one of detached and semi-detached villas from the early decades of the 20th century. The proposal doesn’t harmonise with the period style of the four neighbours, with warm red bricks and white painted window frames.
  4. A negative impact on the local setting (section 3/12 of CLP 2006)
    A number of planning applications in the Hills Road area calling for the demolition of period detached properties and their replacement with flats or other forms of over- development have been rejected by the Planning Committee. Instead properties have been refurbished, extended or replaced with sympathetic moderately sized houses.
  5. Damage to trees (section 4/4 of CLP 2006)
    The excavation of the basement will lower the water table and probably damage tree roots. Also, the use of heavy earth moving equipment on a confined site would inevitably harm the few trees which are not being felled.
  6. Adverse effects on health and the environment (section 4/13 of CLP 2006)
    Adding to traffic congestion, caused by stationary vehicles at the busy Hills Road/Queen Edith’s Way junction, and further increasing noise and air pollution.
  7. Unacceptable transport impact (section 8/2 of CLP 2006)
    In 1990 a proposal to develop the same property was refused on traffic grounds. This development with 17 car parking spaces, right next to a busy junction, will have an unacceptable impact on traffic congestion, pollution and accidents.

You can contact the ‘Saving Raylands’ Campaign at cambridgedeservesbetter@gmail.com. If you have any other suggestions that might be of use, they would love to hear from you.

What do you think? Add your comments here