Fact and Fiction - The landscape around Wilburton is unsuitable for new housing
The "fiction" and "fact" below is from the 2002 Wilburton proposal, with a comment from the current Mereham proposal added.
FICTION: The landscape around Wilburton is unsuitable for new housing.
FACT: The promoter for Wilburton new settlement has demonstrated in its masterplan that the development which will happen gradually over time can be carefully integrated into its surroundings and will not effect views to or from either Cambridge or Ely. Contrary to popular belief the location is not Green Belt land; much of it is low value land, currently used for agricultural purposes.
THEY NOW SAY:That 3 and 4 storey houses with no gardens are in character with the local communities.
As far as we're concerned agricultural land is high value! Where do the developers think their vegetables come from? With the threat of rising sea levels likely to take away vast sections of the East Anglian farm land any agricultural land we have in this country must be preserved if we are to be able to feed the ever increasing population.
New Government Guidelines include 'Sustainable Development in Rural Areas' which states that "New building development in the open countryside away from existing settlements, or outside areas allocated for development in development plans, should be strictly controlled; the Government's overall aim is to protect the countryside for the sake of its intrinsic character and beauty, the diversity of its landscapes, heritage and wildlife, the wealth of its natural resources and so it may be enjoyed by all."
As for views from Ely or Cambridge - well, they are so far away of course they aren't going to see the development. But the current plans include 3 and 4 storey buildings, which they claim to be in keeping with local communities. We have no idea where they get that from - except maybe for some of the horrible new builds around Ely. Those certain affect the view of Ely for some people living there. And the Mereham development will certainly affect the views across open fields of many residents in Wilburton and Stretham. A bit of common sense and local knowledge would highlight that, not computer modelling in a remote office.
As for the original plan for the development to happen gradually over time - that seems to be out of the window! It is now being promoted as the only way to get the perceived "need" for houses achieved by 2016. That's a lot of houses in a short time - so certainly will not happen gradually.
As for Green Belt - Andrew Bennett at the Public Exhibition in 2005 said it was, then when questioned on that point changed his mind. It is land that separates two distinct communities, whether it holds green belt status or not. And it's certainly not low value - it is reasonably high grade agricultural land - which this country desperately needs.
OUR VERDICT: FICTION