Village Size and Proposed 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. This demonstrates that there will be significant increase in traffic caused by the proposed development.
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.
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.
The proposed access to the site is just around the corner from a sharp bend and is therefore considered un-safe for traffic turning into Church Street. Church Street itself, although the main thoroughfare for traffic com-ing to and from Gazeley and Dalham, is narrow and is itself frequently obstructed by parked cars. The main route out of the village has to pass through the junction of Church St/Newmarket Road and the High Street, by The Crown public house. This has already been identified as a hazardous junction with poor visibility. Consultation with the Highways Agency has not found a solution to this problem and the Parish Council is deeply concerned that the hazard would be multiplied with many more cars passing each day.
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.
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, which supports the expectation of con-siderable extra traffic through the village and connecting roads.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 quite a long access road to the site of new dwellings. This would result in a site that is quite isolated from most of the village and would be completely landlocked with only one access. This differs from other older developments in the village where the sites are more rectangu-lar 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, and would give a very different view of the village when approaching from the East along Dalham Road.
This site is situated in open countryside close to the edge of the village and represents only a small proportion of the landowners holding in the area. The Parish Council is concerned that if this site is approved, the princi-ple of development in the area will have been established, causing the adjoining plots to become vulnerable to a creeping urbanisation.
Drought Relief Pipeline in the Area
It is understood that an Environment Agency pipeline, part of the London drought relief scheme, passes under this site and will have various restrictions in place on the development that can be done adjacent to the pipe-line. The exact route is not known.
The site is on prime farmland, which currently is used for grazing.
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 01/02 would irrevocably degrade the whole character of the village.
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