Parish Council Views on a Suggested Site – Land to the north of Potters Cottage, Church Street Ashley

Village Size and Development

Ashley is a small village which has around 240 dwellings (including outlying areas of the parish) and a popula-tion of just over 600. (Note that this is contrary to the EADC notes about Ashley in the current draft Local Plan.) Adding an extra 30 dwellings on this proposed site in a short time frame would significantly increase the size of the village and would put a significant strain on the village resources and roads.

2011 Census data indicates that 78% of work journeys are made by car, with 9% by foot, 8% working from home, 2% by bus and 1% by bicycle, reflecting Ashley’s rural location.

Much of Ashley is also a Conservation Area, which was created so that the the existing ‘look and feel’ of the village would be preserved.

Flood Risk

Although the site is not identified as being at any particular risk of flooding, there are historic events when run-off from the site has flooded gardens in Church Street and caused the village pond to overflow, which inun-dates the drains and then causes flooding between Ashley and Newmarket on the B1063. This problem has been prevented from causing a problem by improving drainage from an existing old unlined pond into the vil-lage pond, but mainly by regular ploughing of the field.

There is an existing problem where the bottom of Mill Road is flooded from runoff from the site. This has on occasion caused damage to cars that have been parked in the affected area. Mill Road was last flooded in June this year.

Public Transport

Ashley, in parallel with other villages in the area such as Cheveley, has a poor bus service. There are daily buses into Newmarket at the beginning and end of the working day, and a few random services on other days. There is no direct service to Bury St Edmunds.

Consequently, there will be significant extra traffic and most will pass westwards along Church Street towards Newmarket, which will all pass through the already problematic junction between Church Street and High Street. The Highways Dept have already been involved with the Parish Council regarding this problem, and no obvious solution has been found.

Site Access

The proposed site access has poor visibility along Church Street and presently is well under the required 43m located 2.4m from the road edge. Visibility can only be improved by removing hedging and trees that are lo-cated in a conservation area, which will have an impact on the aesthetics along Church Street, particularly in the corner of the graveyard where a tree would have to be removed.

Visibility will also be reduced because of on-street resident parking, which fills most of the area to the west of the access along Church Street. We would strenuously resist any parking controls in this area, and in any event would worry about how such controls would be enforced.

Due to poor public transport facilities the majority of newcomers would inevitably use their cars for most jour-neys, including access to village facilities. Car journeys would be essential for access to medical services, shops and employment, the nearest of which is 3.5 miles away in Newmarket. The proposed number of new houses would possibly generate up to twice the number of vehicles which would exacerbate an already diffi-cult traffic and parking problem along Church Street, – a narrow road but nevertheless, the principal thorough-fare for traffic from the outlying villages of Gazeley and Dalham travelling to and from Newmarket.

The junction of Church Street/Newmarket Road and High Street by The Crown public house has already been identified as a hazardous junction for road users and pedestrians. Consultation with the Highways Agency has not found a solution. The Parish Council is deeply concerned about the danger and difficulty that would be created by even more cars trying to use this junction.

The vehicular turn out from the proposed access next to Potters Cottage would be extremely dangerous due to lack of visibility caused by parked cars and the bend in the road. Though the bend is slight it makes it quite impossible to see on coming cars from the right. In addition, St Mary’s Church lies adjacent to the site and can also generate considerable extra parking resulting from its services, including wedding and funerals. The Church has no off street parking facilities. There is also no primary school in the village and the nearest at Cheveley, (1.5 miles distant) is currently over-subscribed. If the development were to go ahead this is likely to result in many more home to school car journeys by car.

2011 Census data indicates that 78% of work journeys are made by car, with 9% by foot, 8% working from home, 2% by bus and 1% by bicycle, reflecting Ashley’s rural location.

St Mary’s Church also causes significant extra parking at random times, such as weddings and funerals. At these times a significant length of Church Street can have nose to tail parking, which effectively reduces the road to a single file.

Schools

The designated primary school is in Cheveley, which is about 1.5 miles away. However, we believe that this school is already over subscribed and has no room for further expansion.

The closest secondary school in East Cambs is in Bottisham, which is a journey of about 11 miles each way.

Doctor’s Surgery

The closest surgery is in Newmarket, over 3.5 miles away. The irregular bus service is not really appropriate for appointments, so any visit would necessitate a car journey.

Shops

There is one small convenience shop in the village. Although it is well stocked and has good opening hours, the amount of produce provided is to some extent limited. Family shopping would need to be in Newmarket or further, which necessitates a car journey.

There is also a pub and a restaurant in the village.

Employment

There is little employment in the village for residents, with only a few people who live and work within the vil-lage. Adjacent Studs are generally staffed by people who either live on site, or who commute from elsewhere.

Landlocked Site

The site adjoins the Conservation Area, where the area around the pond in particular is considered the centre of the village. The majority of any traffic to and from this proposed development would have to pass through this area.

The layout of the site would mean there would be a short unpopulated access road at right angles to Church Street with houses then being located on the area that is behind existing houses. This would result in a site that is effectively landlocked with only one access. This differs from other older developments in the village where the sites are more rectangular and open, with the houses integrating in more easily with the rest of the village.

The proposed housing density is also well above that which already exists along Church Street, which would also negatively impact the aesthetics of that part of the village, in particular the view from the existing houses on Church Street and the view of the village from the top of Mill Road.

The site is prime farmland, which is intensively farmed.

Impact of Development

The impact on the village of developing this site will be very significant. Heavy vehicles that will be used dur-ing construction will have a serious impact on congestion, and because of the narrow roads there will lilkely be significant damage to verges and the edge of the roads. Residents parked cars will also be vulnerable to damage.

If the site was completed, the influx of so many extra residents on what is a small village with a small village infrastructure would also be very disruptive, and is likely to cause significant degradation in the quality of life for existing residents.

The development of both this site and 01/01 would irrevocably degrade the whole character of the village.

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