Councillors have delayed a decision on 281 new homes in Burwell, after saying they were looking for an ‘exceptional not acceptable’ development.

The proposals for the first two phases of a new development on the edge of the village had been recommended to be supported.

However, councillors at East Cambridgeshire District Council have asked the developers to go back and look again at the proposals saying too many homes were planned.

Outline plans were approved by the district council in 2019 to build up to 350 homes on fields north of Newmarket Road.

Two reserved matters applications setting out in more detail what some of the homes could look like were presented to councillors and a planning committee meeting on August 2.

The application for the first phase of the development proposed for 143 homes to be built on land directly adjacent to Newmarket Road.

The plans for the second phase proposed 138 homes to be built north of the first phase, to the rear of existing homes off Felsham Close.

Of the total 281 homes, 16 were proposed to be one-bedroom, 55 two-bedrooms, 100 three-bedrooms, 67 four-bedrooms, and 43 five-bedrooms.

The developer proposed for 184 of the homes to be market housing, with the rest to be made available as affordable housing through a mix of affordable rent and shared ownership.

The developer Vistry East Midlands and Vistry Homes Ltd said its proposals would offer a “well-balanced community”.

A representative of the developer said: “The scheme accords with the outline planning permission and the proposals are supported by the statutory consultees and the parish council has not raised any objections. Overall the proposals provide a wide range of house types, sizes, and tenures, with a density of 32 dwellings per hectare, which is more than reasonable in terms of the context of the site and for ensuring we are making efficient use of the land.”

The representative said they had taken a “traditional approach” to the design of the homes, basing some of the design from historical parts of Burwell. They said they believed the plans offered a “high quality scheme”. However, councillors raised concerns about the number of homes being planned over the first two phases of the site.

Councillor Christine Whelan said she felt it would “overdevelop” the site. Councillor James Lay asked whether officers could assure councillors that if they approved the two applications, the total site after the third phase was built would not be over the total 350 homes.

Officers said they could not guarantee this. They explained that while any reserved matters application coming forward under the original outline permission would be limited to the maximum of 350 homes across the whole site, a developer could submit a new full application to build more homes on the land.

Councillors also argued the mix of different sizes of homes did not offer what was needed in the area. The developer said there was a “higher demand” in the area for larger family homes, but councillors said they wanted to see more smaller homes for young people looking to buy their first home, and for older people looking to downsize.

Councillor John Trapp said: “Many young families would like to stay near their parents to start with and one or two bed houses are all that they can afford, otherwise they have to move out. I am not sure the mix at this particular site is correct, I think there should be far more one and two-bed houses here.

Councillor Julia Huffer said she was “tired” of “acceptable” developments and wanted to see “exceptional” plans. She said: “I am very unhappy with 280 houses being shoehorned in the site, leaving 70 houses on the last third. You do not need a crystal ball or be an expert to see the land coming back in for 150 homes, turning a 350-home site into at least 400 homes.

“I would like the applicant to go away and reduce the number of dwellings on both sites to a reasonable figure, with the 350 homes equally distributed.” The councillors voted unanimously to support deferring a decision on both of the applications, asking the developer to look again at the plans before they came back before the committee.

© Eastern Echo (powered by

Sign up to receive our weekly free journal, The Forum here.