Councillors quit over pub expansion plan

Two councillors have resigned in a row over a planning application to build a nine-room guest annexe at a well-known village pub.

Wood Ditton Parish Council members Charles Smith and Andrew Le Maire have quit the authority which is furious that the plan for the Three Blackbirds pub at Ditton Green, was given permission by East Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee last month despite its objection and concerns raised by more than 30 villagers.

Parish councillors have now sent a formal letter of protest to the head of the district’s planning services and asked for a senior planner to attend its meeting on Thursday to answer their questions.

The parish council had objected on the grounds that the new development was outside the village’s specified development area, was out of keeping with the appearance and economic needs of the village, it overlooked neighbouring properties and had the potential to cause noise nuisance in was a residential area.

“The existing pub business seems to be successful and the need for letting rooms is already met by small-scale facilities in the parish, plus many larger ones in Newmarket,” said the council’s objection.

There were also a host of objections to the scheme from village residents who in their parish plan had expressed a desire to limit further expansion of the village.

In his objection letter to the district council, resident David Papworth of Ditton Green, said: “The proposed development is outside of the development envelope and, if allowed, could be used at a later date by would-be developers to breach the envelope elsewhere in the village.”

Pam Willson, of Vicarage Lane, added: “Wood Ditton is a peaceful village and attracting visitors here, often late at night, will generate noise disturbance and unwanted traffic.”

Speaking at last month’s planning meeting Mark Thackeray, agent for the applicants, said all the objections had been fully considered by the planning officers and that without the new annexe the long-term future of the pub could be at risk.

He said noise would be controlled and the annexe had been designed to “give the feel of an agricultural building.”