19 May 2023
Vara backs residents opposing development which would block in Primary School

Shailesh Vara MP, along with Cllr David Over, has met with residents in the village of Helpston, Peterborough, and joined them in opposing the proposed development of 20 houses which would be built close to the local John Clare Primary School.

An important requirement of Peterborough City Council’s Local Plan is that any development in the area should provide a comprehensive Master Plan for the whole site, which the application fails to do. Mr Joe Dobson, Chairman of Helpston Parish Council and other members of the local community argue that this criteria alone should ensure the failure of the scheme.

The proposed development is being put forward by C J Pettit Transport Ltd, and it would deprive residents of valued open space and also effectively block in the school, as the houses would be adjacent to the school’s playing field.

Moreover, the school is already at capacity and more houses would only increase pressure on pupil numbers. Ironically, by surrounding the playing field with houses, the development would prevent any future expansion of the school. There would also be increased traffic, adding to the pressure on roads.

Mr Vara said: 

“I am very concerned about this application. It should fail as it is contrary to the Council’s Local Plan, which requires a Master Plan for the whole site, and this has not been submitted.

“There is also serious concern that if houses are built on this site, now or in the future, it would prevent the school from being able to expand.

Given that the school is already over subscribed, I very much hope that Peterborough City Council and its planning department will think very carefully before putting pupils and the school in such a difficult situation.”

Mr Dobson added:

“Helpston Parish Council has consistently sought to ensure that the policies in Peterborough's Local Plan are adhered to when applied to proposed developments within our village. Specific references to a master plan, dwelling numbers and the impact on John Clare Primary school have not been satisfactorily addressed by any developer coming forward. The Parish Council and a vast number of the community have written, objecting, to each iteration of the proposals and we are pleased to have the continued support of our MP, Shailesh Vara, who has taken a keen interest in this matter.”

Photo: Alastair Peat, Arthur Cross, Cllr David Over, Shailesh Vara MP, Joe Dobson and Syd Smith.