by Barry Platt on 6 March, 2014
Dear Mr Cameron
Now that the some of the fuss, and floodwater, has subsided, perhaps we can start to consider some of the lessons to be learned from the recent flooding.
Fortunately Cambridgeshire was spared the worst effects of this winter’s storms. Had the winds been northerlies rather than westerlies it could have been a very different story.
Local people here in Waterbeach, on the edge of the Fens, are very concerned about a proposal from Conservative-run South Cambridgeshire District Council for a development of 8,000 to 9,000 new houses in our parish – many of them to be built on land below the 5 metre contour.
You rightly pointed out that we must be mindful of changing weather patterns, and when those changes are compounded with rising sea levels there really must be a presumption against building new homes on such low-lying land.
May I re-assure you on three relevant points.
Firstly, this is not a knee-jerk, NIMBY reaction. Most local people accept the need for additional housing and are relaxed about a development of up to 1,400 homes on previously-used “brownfield” land on the edge of the village. This alone would increase the number of houses in the village by about 75%.
Secondly, this reduction in the number of homes would not affect the local council’s ability to deliver on the housing targets for its 2011-2031 Local Plan – this plan only allocates 1,400 houses to Waterbeach in the plan period anyway.
Thirdly, this would not prevent the Ministry of Defence from realising the proceeds from selling the former Waterbeach Barracks site. Indeed the former barracks is the most attractive part of the overall site for development – containing the majority of the land above the 5 metre contour.
While you were visiting flood victims in Kent you undertook to contact the local council on behalf of a lady you met there. Could I ask you, similarly, to contact our local council here in South Cambridgeshire, to ask them to review their proposal to build homes on land that will be at considerable risk of flooding over the lifetime of the community that they are proposing to create.
Our village is called Waterbeach for a reason.
Councillor Maurice Leeke
Cambridgeshire County Council