Application for Self Build Homes in Cambridgeshire Faces Planning Uncertainty

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A self build and custom homes specialist has submitted plans to construct 12 homes in a Cambridgeshire village, but is facing uncertainty due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Pelham Structures plans to transform a four-acre plot on Hardwick Road in Toft, Cambridgeshire, into a residential development. Should the application be approved, aspiring homeowners will be able to build their home themselves or have a bespoke house designed for them.

The plots will be provided for “self-builders who are generally looking for detached houses and more space than is normal of estate housing”, according to a planning statement. 

The 12 homes would all include garages and large gardens. To ensure each self build and custom build property is appropriate to the village setting, each plot would be developed in line with a design code, but self builders could customise the home within certain parameters. 

(MORE: What is custom build?)

Pelham Structures, which operates within Saffron Walden, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Essex, owns a factory where it manufactures timber frames. Upon selling the plot to the homeowners, Pelham will tailor its level of support according to each self builder’s requirements.

A spokesperson for Pelham Structures told Homebuilding & Renovating: “We generally find that most people effectively have a desire to build their own home but not really to get stuck in, so they’re very grateful to have the support to build.” 

There are roughly 600 people on the Right to Build register in South Cambridgeshire, Pelham Structures says, and it hopes that approval of the planning application could make a notable difference to those waiting to build their own home.

Backlog of Applications

The coronavirus outbreak could yet prove problematic, however. Pelham Structures filed the application with South Cambridgeshire District Council eight weeks ago, but is yet to hear back from the council.

“There’s a backlog of applications which has been exacerbated by coronavirus,” the spokesperson said. “We have a planning reference number, but I don’t think the council has put notifications up.

“We submitted around eight or nine weeks ago, so we’re almost approaching termination of the deadline.” 

Most planning applications are decided within eight weeks, unless they are unusually large or complex, in which case the time limit is extended to 13 weeks. If South Cambridgeshire District Council cannot decide on the application by this time it will need to obtain written consult from Pelham Structures to extend the period. 

(MORE: Securing Planning Permission During the Coronavirus Outbreak: What You Need to Know)

While planning applications are still receiving approval during the Covid-19 pandemic, applications which have been submitted could take longer to go through the consultation process.

The land in Toft, which is currently used for sheep grazing, has previously been the subject of plans for 30 dwellings, and a subsequent proposal was refused in 2018. But Pelham Structures is confident its application meets the needs of the area. 

“We think that the benefits considerably outweigh the harm, and we obviously want to protect the landscape so there will be a planning balance to strike.”





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