Parish supergroup

Councillors from 15 parishes concerned that their villages are ill-equipped for new houses being built are joining forces.

They feel that vital services such as shops and footpaths will become strained if Forest Heath District Council approves a number of major development proposals.

A pressure group called The Forest Heath Rural Parishes Alliance was formed at a meeting at Moulton Primary School on Wednesday to establish a better working relationship with District Council planners.

Representatives from Worlington, Moulton, Eriswell, Lakenheath, Cavenham, Exning, Kentford, Gazeley, Herringswell, Tuddenham St Mary, Red Lodge, Freckenham, Higham, Dalham and Barton Mills parish councils joined the group.

Speaking at the meeting, Bill Rampling, chairman of Moulton parish council, said: “We are not anti-development. We just want it done properly with proper infrastructure.

“Because we are speaking as a group we should have a louder voice. We want to move us forward as a support group for each parish that has been threatened by developments that it considers unreasonable.”

A parish councillor from Exning added: “We all need to collectively learn and share the knowledge that we gain.”

The Forest Heath District Council planning committee will meet later this month to consider among others a proposal for a further 374 new homes in Red Lodge that Mr Rampling believes the existing schools, trains and major roads cannot cope with.

“Any new development must be sustainable with the right infrastructure. The planning officials might need help to work with us to achieve the same goal,” Mr Rampling added.

Karen Soons, Tuddenham St Mary parish councillor, said: “As a group the more noise we make and in the right direction collectively it has to be good.”

number of residents who will be represented

significant developments already approved in Kentford and Lakenheath

Forest Heath District Council judges planning applications under national guidelines because it was unable to provide a five year plan for sustainable new housing.

The National Planning Policy Framework that was introduced two years ago has reduced the requirements for planning applications at the neglect of infrastructure as the government attempts to build hundreds of thousands of new homes.

“If you are faced with a big developer you don’t stand a chance of fighting it off. The pressure is on the planning authority to accept whatever the planner throws at them and councils are running scared because they will lose any appeal,” Mr Rampling added.