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Kennett campaigners 'ready to fight' East Cambridgeshire District Council's 500 home estate plan

Kennett CLT's plans for the village
Kennett CLT's plans for the village

A district council is set to approve its own controversial plans to build a 500-house estate just outside Newmarket – potentially changing one of East Cambridgeshire’s smallest villages forever.

On Wednesday, East Cambridgeshire District Council will be told by its planning officers to approve plans to build a ‘garden village’ in Kennett, which would see the size of the village balloon by more than 300 per cent.

But members of Kennett Action Group, who are campaigning against the build, have warned they are ready to fight the application.

Action group member and consultant surgeon Fahmy Fayez Fahmy said he was ‘not surprised’ council planning officers had backed proposals from East Cambs Trading Company – an organisation owned by the district council.

The future of the council’s finances is dependent on winning approval for the scheme.

According to the trading company’s 2018 business plan, the build could see it making £30 million for the council as part of efforts to generate new sources of income amid continued reductions in its grant from central government and political pressure to freeze its part of the Council Tax.

Kennett CLT's plans for the village
Kennett CLT's plans for the village

The district loaned East Cambs Trading Company £5 million when it was formed in March 2016, and this has to be repaid in full by March 2021 – but the repayment of the loan is ‘significantly dependent’ on the Kennett development.

If East Cambridgeshire’s planners follow officers’ recommendations, the decision will land on the desk of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, who will make the final call.

Mr Fahmy warned: “We are not going anywhere – we will expose everything.”

He added: “We are not expecting any fair assessment of this. This is why we are preparing for the next stage.”

Kennett Parish Council has joined residents in objecting to the build.

In evidence submitted to district planners ahead of the meeting at Ely Cathedral Conference Centre, parish clerk Louise Morgan highlighted the large scale of the site meaning the current village ‘would become a suburb of the new development’ and a lack of suitable infrastructure.

“It’s not just Kennett Action Group against the development, it’s the majority of the village,” said Mr Fahmy.

Newmarket Town Council has also objected to the build.

East Cambridgeshire District Council and its subsidiary companies refused to comment.