Considering a career in teaching?

Considering a career in teaching?  If so, you might want to book a place on Teach in Cambridgeshire’s Initial Teacher Training event to find out more.

Anglia Ruskin University
Thursday 16 November 2017

There will be a range of local providers offering all phases and routes such as school centred places, PGCE, BEd, or internships.  Tickets can be booked here [link]

Queen Adelaide: road and rail consultation event

Do you use the roads in and around Queen Adelaide?  If so, you might want to drop in to the consultation event on Thursday 14 September from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at Queen Adelaide Village Hall.

More trains and better rail services would clearly bring benefits to the local area and beyond.  But with three level crossings on the road through Queen Adelaide, transport planners are faced with a problem.

Cambridgeshire County Council and Network Rail are holding this consultation event to understand more about how the traffic flows through the village and hear people’s views on the impact the three level crossings have on the area.

Representatives from Cambridgeshire County Council and Network Rail will be there.  Residents or businesses not able to attend the event will be able to feed back by email or by returning a comment card that will be posted ahead of the event. All responses must be received by Friday 29 September 2017.

For more information visit

Land East of Garden Close

I have now written to the council with my response to the outline planning application for up to 53 houses east of Garden Close (17/01445/OUM):

I oppose this development on a number of grounds. The site of this proposed application is not the preferred site of the parish council, nor of local residents.  In general, it is accepted by residents of Sutton that any necessary development in the village should take place to the north, and not to the wetter south of the village where it slopes down to the fen.

Part of the site is included within the current draft of the district council’s Local Plan, with an indicative allocation of up to 25 dwellings.  The application for up to 53 dwellings, on a site that is extended to the north, south, and south-east of the site in the draft Local Plan, is excessive and inappropriate.

The late landowner had envisaged up to 25 environmentally sustainable bungalow homes on the site.  The applicants are proposing a scheme consisting almost totally of two-storey dwellings or above, which would negatively impact on the view and setting of the 14th century church, and would be out of keeping with the surrounding context, which consists almost entirely of bungalows.

The extension of the site to the south and south east involves building on very wet land, where residents in surrounding properties describe ongoing problems with water management.  Drainage is an ongoing issue in this part of the village.  The site sits on the same level as the part of Red Lion Lane where the water from the springs that run along the high street meets the Kimmeridge clay that lies under the topsoil.  Recent building at this level on Red Lion Lane appears to have exacerbated the persistent surface water problems at this location.  It is not clear that the applicants’ proposal adequately deals with known water management and drainage issues.

Meanwhile, the extension of the site to the north creates significant problems for the owner of 10 Oates Lane, who has already responded to this application.  The owner of this site was recently granted consent (17/00765) for the construction of a ‘lifetime home’ on that site, to meet the very special needs of the family which he describes in his submission.  The owner of this site, unlike residents in Garden Close, has not been consulted by the applicant, nor offered the same ‘buffer zone’ between the proposed site and his property as residents in Garden Close have been: indeed, due to an error in the drawing of the boundary, the built edge of the applicants’ proposal sits right on the boundary of his property, with no separation at all.  The owner of 10 Oates Lane has already made a very cogent submission about the problems relating to inaccurate drawing of boundaries, root protection areas for his trees, and the need to avoid overlooking of his family in the very particular circumstances he describes.

The effect on the local wildlife, and on the historic surrounding properties in the village’s conservation area, is also of great significance, as are the traffic issues which this application will exacerbate on the high street in both directions, on the top of Oates Lane, and on Church Lane and Station Road.

I support the view of the parish council that this application should come to the Planning Committee to determine, and that they should refuse it.

Number plate cameras for Waitrose car park in Ely

The John Lewis Partnership are applying to the council for consent to install two Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras at the Waitrose car park in Ely.

They propose to install a single MAV ANPR camera on a single post to cover both entrance and exit lanes. They say:

The new ANPR post and cameras will have the principal benefit to Waitrose customers and public users of the parking facility by improving security with the car park as well as adding to the efficiency of the management of the car park usage. We believe the new post will be in keeping with the surrounding site furniture in terms of scale and colour and will help to enhance and modernise this existing car park area.

The planning reference number is 17/01387/FUL. Details of the application can be found here and comments may be made (to the council, not to me!) until 31 August. You can make your views known to the council:

Garden Close, Sutton application now submitted

Endurance Estates has now submitted its planning application for the site east of Garden Close in Sutton. The application will need to be ‘validated’ by the council; it will then be given an application number and the application form and associated documents will be published on the council’s website.

Endurance’s proposals have changed from those shown at the first event in February, and the details are on their dedicated Garden Close website.  The changes include

  • Reducing the number of proposed properties to 53
  • Increasing the amount of public open space
  • Reducing the height of the houses on the boundary with Garden Close
  • Moving the ‘red line’ of the site on the boundary with Garden Close.

Once the planning application has been validated by the council, details will also be published on the applicants’ Garden Close website, along with the revised Masterplan.

Fenprobe talking newspaper

Janet and Sarah (pictured above) from Fenprobe Talking News were at Nellie’s Community Café in Sutton this morning. Fenprobe is one of the two charities for which Nellie’s will be fundraising over the coming months.

Fenprobe is a free service for blind or visually impaired residents in East Cambridgeshire. It’s moved on considerably since it was launched in late 1978, when the weekly news was sent out on 30 minute cassette tapes. Now there’s a smart black player (free of charge) with bright yellow buttons, which runs on rechargeable batteries – and the news is delivered on a USB stick, which holds a lot more information.

Fenprobe rents a studio in Ely, where over forty volunteers help read the news, on a five-weekly rota. There’s also a monthly magazine. Fenprobe relies entirely on donations and grants, and is very grateful for the support from Nellie’s.

Users of the service need to register, and must be referred by a doctor, optician or professional carer. If you know someone who has difficulty reading the local news, and who would benefit from this service, you can contact the secretary on 01353 861153.

Janet and Sarah also tell me they are always on the lookout for volunteer sound engineers – so if you have experience in that field, do give them a call on the number above.



Update: Re-development of the Princess of Wales, Ely site

Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust have just issued the following update about their plans for the Princess of Wales Hospital in Ely.

As Landlord of the Princess of Wales in Ely, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust is working with health and social care partners to create exciting re-development plans for the site.  Our ambitious plans for the future will ensure we maximise opportunities for the site to meet the needs of the local population in the long term, building on existing health and social care provision locally.

We have begun a programme of meetings with service providers on site to identify their future clinical and physical requirements for any new build/redesign.  We’re also meeting with key external partners, including East Cambridgeshire District Council and the local MP, to ensure we understand and can take into account the wider aspirations and challenges for the East Cambridgeshire population.

This programme of meetings will culminate in the development of a business case which in turn will inform a planning application in due course.  Once we have a clear understanding of stakeholder requirements and potential plans for the site (which we envisage will incorporate the majority of existing buildings being rebuilt to modern day standards), we will host a number of events in 2018 to share these proposals with the local community.

We anticipate that this process will lead to building work commencing on site in 2019 with the new site becoming operational in 2021.

What now for community transport?

A ruling from the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) could have repercussions for community ‘dial a ride’ transport operations across the country, including here in Cambridgeshire.

Until now, many community transport organisations have been operating under special arrangements established for ‘non-commercial’ transport operations. Under these special arrangements, drivers are regulated to a different standard than that which applies to commercial operators. This has caused friction for some time with drivers of hackney carriage and private hire vehicles, who have to comply with more demanding standards and have claimed that they face unfair competition from community transport organisations doing what amounts to commercial work.

The DVSA has now ruled that these less stringent requirements do not necessarily apply to community transport organisations if they are carrying out commercial-type contracts won from a local authority in competition with other providers. And if such organisations are carrying out any services ‘exclusively for non-commercial purposes’, then all of the services they offer must be carried out to standards applied to commercial operators.

This could potentially have implications for local operator FACT (Fenland Association for Community Transport) along with its ESACT and HACT operations in East Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire respectively.  They operate a number of services for the county council, including most recently winning the contract to provide the new ‘East Cambs Connect’ minibus service set up following cuts to a number of bus services in East Cambridgeshire.

It’s early days, and it’s not yet clear how all of this will work out.  But at the very least it could cause some disruption while it is resolved, and at worst it could mean current contracts being withdrawn and re-tendered.

Meanwhile, investigations into FACT/HACT/ESACT are still ongoing, following various allegations about its operations including grant applications.  I asked at the time how this would affect the county council’s decision to award the East Cambs Connect contract to ESACT, and was told it wouldn’t.  And a grant of over £13,000 to ESACT from East Cambridgeshire District Council is still being held back after I proposed it would be wise not to allocate this money until the investigations are concluded – one way or another.

Recent planning applications

The following local applications have been published by East Cambridgeshire District Council.

Little Downham
Land Parcel South West Of 6 Third Drove Little Downham
New dwelling.

29 Vermuyden Gardens Sutton CB6 2QR
Construction of single storey rear extension which extends beyond the rear wall by 4.5m, has a maximum height of 3.4m and an eaves height of 2.7m.

Site North West of 27 Sutton Road Witchford
Detached three bed bungalow.

Land Adjacent to No 2 Market Way Witcham CB6 2LP
Outline application for two storey dwelling, single carport, parking, access, turning and associated site works.

Further information can be found on the district council’s planning pages.If you would like to respond formally to the council about any planning application, comments should be addressed to the district council and not to me.  Comments may be made

      • online using the council’s public access webpage (the link above);
      • by email to;
      • or by post to the Planning Department, The Grange, Nutholt Lane, Ely, CB7 4EE.