New homes plan sees dozens object as families claim getting GP appointment 'virtually impossible'

Newmarket Road, off which the development area lies
-Credit: (Image: Google)


Nearly 40 people have objected to plans for up to 325 homes to be built in Royston, just over the border in Hertfordshire. The properties to the south of Newmarket Road would include 102 homes with access from Newmarket Road.

The main access point for the remaining 223 homes has not yet been decided. The application was lodged on May 21, and is similar to plans for 325 homes granted on the site in 2020.

The new application is needed as ‘reserved matters’ applications laying out detailed proposals were not put forward for most of the site area after the 2020 approval, and the deadline for doing so has passed. A development of up to 330 homes to the north of the site was approved in 2016, and homes here have largely been built and occupied.

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Out of 41 public comments, 38 are opposed to the plans and three are from a neutral standpoint. One person described getting a doctor's or dentist appointment in the area as “virtually impossible” and another said they are considering leaving the town as a result of alleged overdevelopment.

An objector from Windsor Road in Royston said: “Royston infrastructure is already overburdened, with existing amenities such as healthcare facilities and public services operating beyond capacity.

“The proposed development lacks assurances of adequate expansion to support the increased population. Existing issues with traffic congestion, limited parking, and insufficient public transport options will only worsen with additional housing.

“Current healthcare services in Royston, including GP surgeries and dental practices, are at full capacity with lengthy wait times for appointments. The proposed development fails to address how it will alleviate these pressures or provide additional healthcare facilities to accommodate the influx of residents.”

Another commenter from Bury Plantation, Royston, said: “We have lived here for only three years. We live next to two schools, neither of which could place our daughter, so we have to reluctantly drive across town to access her school.

“The added population, likely to include a number of young new homeowners with young families, will only make the situation worse. That is of course, if the houses are actually affordable for young people or families.”

The property type has been decided for 102 of the homes. Proposals comprise four bungalows, four maisonettes, 33 semi-detached properties and 61 detached properties.

Most of the homes would have three or four bedrooms – 41 and 47 respectively. There would be 12 two-bed properties and two one-bed properties. Aside from the bungalows, all of the homes would have two storeys.

The proportion of homes classed as affordable across the development is uncertain and subject to a “viability assessment”. The planning statement, written on behalf of developers Countryside Properties (UK) Limited And Sir Francis Newman, explains that developments of this size should be 40 percent “affordable”, but the application approved in 2020 was just 22 percent “affordable” because “policy compliant affordable housing was not viable”.

The planning statement continued: “The site is located in a very sustainable location and its development will provide much-needed new homes in North Hertfordshire.

“The proposals have been subject to extensive discussions with planning officers North Hertfordshire District Council and the scheme is a design-led development that responds to the characteristics of the site.”

A decision on whether the application will be granted is expected to be made by August 20, 2024.