Planning application: the old butchers’ shop

A planning application (reference number 13/00333/FUL if you want to look it up) is waiting for consideration by East Cambridgeshire District Council for the old butchers’ shop in the High Street. The application is for ‘Change of use from A1 (previous Butchers Shop) to Deli with hot food retail, and installation of extraction, to include ancillary seating. Mixed usage, mainly Deli with some hot food retail – A5, A1 & A3’.

This application would allow the building to be used as a shop (A1), café (A3) – or, controversially, as a hot food takeaway (A5).  (A list of ‘use classes’ can be found here).

There is huge support for the plans outlined by the applicants to operate a deli and café in the High Street. However, the planning application as it stands would allow the applicants to change their minds and open a fish and chip shop instead, or a kebab house, or a takeaway pizza outlet, or sell the building on to anyone else to do any of those things, without any further applications being required. That would leave the building wide open to exactly the kind of use that residents have been vocal in opposing ever since the butchers ceased operation.

The parish council has, as always in the case of planning applications, been asked for its view.  It has – rightly in my view – taken the approach that while the A1 and A3 use classes would be very welcome, planning permission for A5 use would leave the village at risk of a standard takeaway-only business opening in the middle of our high street, with no further planning application being required.

As has already been said, a planning application can’t be made specific to one applicant – planning permission for a hot food takeaway would be applicable to the current applicants, or to anyone else they sold the building to. It seems to me therefore that the Parish Council is doing exactly the right thing – supporting strongly the parts of the application that would enable a deli and café to open in the high street as residents wish, but opposing the parts of the application that would leave the field open for it to become yet another takeaway.

Wheelie bin update

Recycling leaflet

The leaflet from the council announcing the new recycling service is now arriving on residents’ doormats.

You can find out whether you’ll be getting wheelie bins from this list – find your street and if your specific address doesn’t appear below ‘view the collection calendar’ you should be getting the new bins.

If you’re not getting the new bins, your alternative collection arrangements are described here.

If you’re going to be getting wheelie bins, you can find out when they’ll arrive from this list.


Good news for local primary schools

The Pupil Premium provides schools with extra money to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Nick Clegg has announced that the Pupil Premium will be increased to £1,300 per eligible primary school pupil in 2014/15, up from £900 per child this year. That’s likely to be an extra £866,000 for primary schools in our constituency of North East Cambridgeshire – funding is £1,948,500 this year, and is likely to rise to £2,814,500 next year.  That’s the biggest rise in the Pupil Premium since it was introduced by the coalition government.

Schools will be able to spend this money in ways that they feel help their pupils best. Evidence shows some schools use it to hire extra staff, organise reading and maths classes for children who need an extra hand, or provide appropriate IT facilities.

Crime down 10 per cent in Cambridgeshire

Crime rates in Cambridgeshire have dropped by 10 per cent in the past year, according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics.

Crime has fallen in every region in the UK and is down by 7 per cent nationally since this time last year, hitting the lowest level since 1981.

Crime has been lower every single year under the coalition government than it was in every single year that Labour was in power – falling by over 10 per cent nationally since the present government was formed in 2010.

Time to get on top of road repairs

Many of our roads in Cambridgeshire are in a very poor state of repair. So it’s good to see this proposal going to the County Council on 16 July. The task of repairing and maintaining our roads and pavements is massive, and well beyond the current budget allocated to it – let alone the additional demands of the A14 upgrade, Ely viaduct and Northstowe. A strategy to deal with the problem is vital if it’s not to continue to spiral beyond the capacity of the council to put right.

Feast Week

Everyone’s still talking about the success of Feast Week, and in particular the very moving Lancaster fly-past on Sunday afternoon. Village Day was just as brilliant as Gault Day, and as one of the team serving burgers and hot dogs on Sunday afternoon I can attest that we certainly did a roaring trade. Well done, everyone – looking forward to Feast Week 2014 already!

Ouse Washes

Mark Nokkert Ouse Washes project Gault Day

At the Gault Day today, I was interested to hear from Mark Nokkert – pictured here with his exhibition stand – about the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme.  Mark, from the Netherlands, is the programme manager for this project, which aims to increase understanding of the local washlands, promote the area as a visitor destination, involve local communities in maintaining the landscape, and provide training in conservation and heritage.

Like many people, I hadn’t really thought much about the Ouse washes as a single piece of landscape with a shared potential, but this scheme includes the whole area from Downham Market down the Old Bedford and New Bedford Rivers through Sutton as far as the RSPB nature reserves at Fen Drayton and Needingworth.  Cambridgeshire ACRE has received an initial grant of just over £90,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to start the project off, and a further sum of nearly £1M has been earmarked to put the scheme into effect.  There are 23 key partners ranging from local councils and voluntary groups to national charities, with 60 more organisations and individuals on the partnership forum.

There are opportunities to get involved, and the project is on Twitter at @ousewasheslp.

Gault Day


What a brilliant day we all had at the Gault today!  Chickens, bees, plastic ducks*, Pooh sticks, cream teas, music, Peter the eel catcher, bouncy castle, trampoline, display and information stands, sunshine, great company – it had everything.  Well done and thank you to all involved.

*The picture shows the first few ducks emerging from under the bridge at the Anchor. Mine wasn’t one of them.