News and Updates
Some of you will have heard news yesterday suggesting that the Inspectors have approved the Local Plan including 3,500 new homes at Bourn Airfield.
We were rather surprised to hear that as the Inspectors have yet to make their decision known.
It is clear that South Cambs District Council and Cambridge City Council have been premature in briefing the press, and others, on the ‘outcome' to the Local Plan Examination. The outcome has certainly not yet been determined. Furthermore, we can report that the Inspectors were surprised and unhappy at the councils' precipitate action. They have written a strongly worded letter to the councils and have specifically asked them to publish their letter to avoid any perception that they have reached a fixed conclusion.
We have attached the Inspectors' letter below. Do let us have your comments.
Did you know, due to the lack of a 5 year housing plan affecting South Cambs, 3,064 dwellings (not in the Local Plan) received planning permission from June 2014 to March 2017. Since March this year, there have been a further 1,237 dwelling approvals. That's a total of 4,301. These are dwellings that were not taken into consideration in the Local Plan!
Why do we still need 3,500 houses on Bourn Airfield?
It has been a quiet summer in terms of news regarding the Bourn Airfield Development but work has been proceeding both by the proposers of the development and those opposed to it. The work of the independent inspector who is assessing the relative merits of the Plan is ongoing. We have now heard that South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) expect to get a preliminary report from the inspector before the end of the year. This report should set out any modifications needed to make SCDC's plan sound. Any modifications will need to be consulted upon. There are no indications as yet as to the number, or nature, of these modifications.
In the meantime, the developer, Countryside Properties, is pursuing a parallel process with a view to submitting a Planning Application for Bourn Airfield next year. The timing of this parallel process would be affected if any required modifications to the Local Plan regarding Bourn Airfield are indicated.
Please do share this article and let us have your comments.
A recent Cambridge News article reported that the new mayor of Cambridge and Peterborough, James Palmer, is highly critical of the City Deal's plan to build a busway linking Cambourne with Cambridge. The busway is a critical piece of the City Deal's proposal to support the development of new homes in our area including on Bourn Airfield. Mayor Palmer criticised what he described as the short term thinking and lack of strategy associated with the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan:
“This is one of the problems with local government, short-term thinking, putting forward the wrong scheme just to allow South Cambs’ local plan to be passed I think is a problem, and I think is something we are going to have to sort out."
For the full article see here.
We were finally able to voice our very real concerns over the decision to include a new settlement on Bourn Airfield in the Local Plan directly, and in person to the inspector, Laura Graham last week. Ably supported by Bourn Parish Councillor, Steve Jones - and joined by a number of other objectors - we raised all of the issues that we have been concerned about from the outset - including transport, homes being built too far from jobs and the creation of a sprawl of ribbon development along the A428.
We were delighted to see so many people turn out to support the campaign and we remain cautiously optimistic that the inspector will see B.A.D. for what it is - a misguided and wholly unsustainable folly.
There were a number of modifications made to the Policy SS/6 Bourn Airfield in November 2016 - including access to the Broadway and the inclusion of additional parcels of land nearer Highfields Caldecote - and the inspector still has to determine if these modifications are needed to make the plan sound. If they are needed then there's is a very real possibility that there will be further consultations on the modifications as these weren’t covered a the EIP.
The fight goes on!
In the fourth of our series of updates, the following is our response to the Inspector's question concerning ribbon development.
Would the new village result in an over intensification of relatively closely knit settlements south of the A428 creating a form of ribbon development which would be uncharacteristic of this part of South Cambridgeshire?
“While lacking any formal definition, sprawl generally refers to development on the urban fringe of growing areas, but covers a range of settlement patterns from continuous suburbs to linear patterns of strip development... As a model of development, it has been variously associated with increased infrastructure costs, transportation costs, congestion, pollution and loss of natural land, and with reduced public health and accessibility”.
Introduction to the Royal Town Planning Institute 'Location of Development Report'
The problem of coalescence was apparent back in 1992. Paragraph 12.4.1 of the 1992 Inspectors' Report states, 'In the case of Bourn Airfield there would be appear to be almost a continuous ribbon of development from the Broadway eastward along the side of the A45 (now A428) to the Hardwick turn on the A1303 - a distance of 4.5 km.'
Today, the case for coalescence and ribbon development is even more compelling. The 'new village' would result unquestionably in the over intensification of the settlements to the south of the A428 between Hardwick and the Caxton Gibbet roundabout and form a linear pattern of strip development approximately 8 kilometres long. There has been significant development in Caldecote Highfields over the last 10 years and houses have edged ever closer to the A428 and Hardwick. The soon-to-be-completed 950 homes in Upper Cambourne will bring the total number of houses in Cambourne to 4,400 and see houses right up to the Bourn Broadway. The recent approval of 2,350 houses in West Cambourne means that there will be housing to the west right up to the A1198. If Bourn Airfield were to go ahead it would mean that an 8k long stretch of land - that up until 20 years ago was almost exclusively green fields - will have been lost to 10,250 houses. The relaxation of rules on rural housing density further exacerbates the intensification problem. The villages of Bourn, Caldecote, Caxton and Knapwell characterised this area for hundreds of years; this area is NOT characterised by Cambourne alone.
Should the development of Bourn Airfield be given the go-ahead, it would be a clear example of the unrestricted sprawl of a large built-up area; the merging of neighbouring communities; and an encroachment into the countryside that will severely damage the setting and special character of historic villages.
Figure 1 below illustrates the existing settlements to the south of the A428 together with the West Cambourne (1) and the proposed development of Bourn Airfield (2).
Figure 1. (1) West Cambourne new development (2) Proposed Bourn Airfield new development (3) Caldecote (4) Hardwick (5) Caxton
Figure 2 illustrates how the area will look once West Cambourne has been completed and if Bourn Airfield goes ahead. What is immediately apparent is that this creates a continuous ribbon of development of 7.7km (4.7m) from Hardwick (4) and Caldecote (3) to the Caxton Gibbet roundabout.
Figure 2: Potential ribbon development of 8 kilometres from Hardwick to Caxton Gibbet
Your voice matters!
As we approach the 4th April hearings on the proposed Bourn Airfield Development, a reminder of the importance of strong and visible local opinion comes from the following news story.
In 2016, housing developer Gladman Developments were refused permission to build over 300 new houses in Ledbury by Herefordshire Council. The proposed development was hugely unpopular with local people who argued that the location was unsustainable (At a local site meeting, with feelings reported to be "running very high" 35 local people walked for nearly two miles to make their views known).
Gladman Developments appealed against the Council to the Planning Inspectorate at a Hearing held in February 2016. As the Council insisted that the Hearings be held in Hereford, over 17 miles away from Ledbury, only a handful of Ledbury residents were able to attend because distance precluded those at work just nipping out during their lunch break to show a presence. As a consequence Gladman Developments, and their 11 representatives who attended the Hearing, used this to make the point that there was limited local interest, to back their argument.
Gladman Developments won their appeal to the Planning Inspectorate to build the new houses.
Your voice matters! Do come along for the first day of the Hearings on 4th April at 9:30am at South Cambs Hall in Cambourne and be seen and heard.
Sign up and let us know you're coming.
Many Bourn residents will recall assurances given in 1996 from South Cambridgeshire District Council that the new Cambourne development would not be permitted to increase traffic into Bourn.
A minute from the Planning Committee meeting of 24 April 1996 records as "Resolved that there should be no emergency vehicle and bus link between the new village [Cambourne] and The Broadway". Specifically, we were told that "such access will never be allowed".
With additional bus traffic from Cambourne via this new link, as well as additional new traffic if Bourn Airfield goes ahead, traffic in Bourn village could be set to become a major problem.
If we value our beautiful and historic village we must say no to this constant encroachment.
1. Write to your District Councillors and express your concerns. Their email addresses are: Councillor Peter Topping - Cllr.Topping@SCambs.gov.UK Councillor Nick Wright - Cllr.Wright@SCambs.gov.uk and Councillor Des O'Brien - Cllr.Obrien@SCambs.gov.uk
2. Come along to the start of the next Local Plan Hearing on 4th April and show your support to stop the proposed development at Bourn Airfield - further details are here.
In the third of our series of updates, the following is our response to the Inspector's question regarding the designation of the Bourn airfield site as previously developed (brownfield) land. This was included in our submission to the Inspector on 16 February 2017.
In respect of paragraph 3.40, what proportion of the site as a whole can be classified as previously developed land?
While we acknowledge that airfields, as land that has been previously developed, are now to be regarded as brownfield land we would like to point out that a central premise of the policy has been, and remains, that it should not be assumed that the whole of the curtilage of a brownfield site should be developed. This has been made clear in the definitions of previously developed land set out in Planning Policy Guidance. The definition in Planning Policy Guidance 3 included a footnote that defined curtilage and stated “where the footprint of a building only occupies a proportion of a site of which the remainder is open land (such as at an airfield or a hospital) the whole site should not normally be developed to the boundary of the curtilage.”
The glossary to the National Planning Policy Framework defines previously developed land is "Land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure, including the curtilage of the developed land (although it should not be assumed that the whole of the curtilage should be developed) and any associated fixed surface infrastructure."
Clearly the vast majority of the Bourn Airfield site is agricultural land and woodland. Within the original Major Development Site area the runways and perimeter tracks represent only 16% of the total, the remainder being farmed land. The runways and industrial areas occupy just 14% of the total AAP. This is illustrated below.
In the second of our series of updates, the following is our response to the Inspector's question regarding the site capacity and housing density afforded by the Bourn Airfield site. This was included in our submission to the Inspector on 16 February. [If you would like to download a copy of the full submission, see below].
iii Does the area of land identified on Inset I of the Policies Map provide sufficient capacity to achieve the quantum of development associated with the new village?
StopBAD's original submission in October 2013 questioned the site’s ability to accommodate the 3,500 houses to be built. We pointed out that the council made significant mistakes in their calculation of the site’s capacity.
Questions concerning the site’s capacity are not new. In 1992 when Bourn Airfield was being considered as a potential site for the new settlement of Cambourne, the Planning Inspector, Mr T Kemann-Lane, submitted a report in which he drew particular attention to the “generally small and cramped nature of the site”. He observed “the Bourn Airfield proposal does lack sufficient room within its boundaries to give adequate separation (from Highfields Caldecote)”. Similarly, he thought the proposal (for only 3,000 dwellings, rather than the currently-proposed 3,500) “would produce a tight development”. This was prior to the building of Cambourne, and Highfields was less than half its present size. In addition, the A428 was not a dual carriageway in 1992, which has also reduced the size of the Bourn Airfield site by 10 ha.
Figure 4: Schedule of Yields, Proposed Development at Bourn Airfield by Rummey Design 
Figure 5: Overview of StopBAD's original analysis
The updated land yield allocated to residential parcels (93.82 ha.) by Rummey Design (see Figure 4) on behalf of Countryside Properties comes close to StopBAD's estimated figure from our 2013 Submission of 85 ha (Figure 5). However, the yield of 93.82 ha. comes at the expense of the employment land on the Tallent site and the loss of the access spur on the North East on the site. The subsuming of these areas into the MDA means that the proposed new settlement is effectively conjoined to Caldecote Highfields. Clearly, there are now insufficient distances to achieve an effective buffer zone and visual separation between Upper Cambourne, Bourn Airfield and Caldecote Highfields.
In addition, building 3,500 houses on an area of 93.82 hectares produces a housing density of 37 dwellings per hectare (dph). A density of 37 dph is well in excess of the densities in the original Cambourne Masterplan, and closer to urban than rural density levels.
4 RD/FM/013, Additional Evidence Relating to Bourn Airfield, Appendix 1: https://www.scambs.gov.uk/sites/default/files/rd.fm_.013_-_app_1_landscape_led_settlement_part_2.pdf