News and Updates
It is important that people continue to engage with the process of delivering a Bourn Airfield Development to help protect local villages from the worst effects of the new settlement.
While South Cambridgeshire District Council’s consultation on the Bourn Airfield Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) feels very much like another box-ticking exercise by the Planning Authority, we need make sure that their responsibilities towards existing communities are upheld and that their undertaking to mitigate the impact of the development is honoured.
The SPD should be all about ensuring that people's worst fears - voiced so strongly and coherently during the Local Plan Examination consultation and the subsequent Examination in Public - are not realised.
Paragraph 87 of the Inspectors' Final Report on the Local Plan states;
We are mindful of the significant levels of opposition to the Bourn Airfield proposal expressed by the local community and others, including fears of coalescence and traffic implications, including local traffic management issues relating to the Broadway. There is a degree of scepticism from the local community about whether their concerns can be adequately addressed. But there is nothing to indicate that these concerns cannot be satisfactorily addressed through the development management process and further guidance provided by SPD.
The SPD process then should, at the very least, moderate local scepticism about whether our very real concerns about BAD are going to be addressed. Does the draft SPD - currently out for consultation - do this? I don’t see that it does. Where in the SPD are the provisions that address the fear of coalescence? Where are the provisions that address the issue of traffic generation and management?
One issue in particular highlights the shortcomings of the SPD and that’s the issue of a direct access from the Airfield development onto the A428. The Planning Authority have been quick to shut down this debate despite a growing coalition of supporters demanding that serious consideration is given to this option.
The District Council's own Scrutiny and Overview Committee addressed the issue in their May 2019 meeting and made a recommendation to Cabinet to include the option of a direct access in the SPD:
The committee had severe reservations regarding transport. Committee members felt that there needed to be access from Bourn Airfield to the A428. The committee was concerned that the scale of modal shift desired was highly unlikely to be achieved.
https://scambs.moderngov.co.uk/documents/g7562/Printed minutes Tuesday 21-May-2019 17.20 Scrutiny and Overview Committee.pdf?T=1
In spite of this clear recommendation, SCDC Cabinet chose to ignore the Scrutiny and Overview Committee. Stephen Kelly, the Joint Director for Planning and Economic Development (who, as a public servant, works for us) came up with the following lame arguments against considering a direct access to the A428.
Access for cars. The basis for resisting the formation of a new access onto the A428 was three-fold –national policy, the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s proposals for quality public transport between Cambourne and Cambridge, and South Cambridgeshire District Council’s aspirations for a low-carbon future.
https://scambs.moderngov.co.uk/documents/g7545/Printed minutes Wednesday 05-Jun-2019 09.30 Cabinet.pdf?T=1
Weak, non-specific and frankly insulting arguments like this need to be resisted.
For example, representations (including from StopBAD and Bourn Parish Council) on the A428 direct access issue have met with the response that national policy guidelines indicate that junctions may not be placed too closely together. Yet there are many examples where these guidelines have not been applied, as the illustrations below show.
Examples of closely spaced junctions on existing local A roads
PLEASE MAKE SURE THE COUNCIL KNOWS THAT WE WILL NOT BE PATRONISED WITH THE OFFER OF FAKE CONSULTATIONS, NOR FOBBED OFF WITH SPECIOUS ARGUMENTS.
CALL THEM TO ACCOUNT AND RESPOND IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS TO THE SPD CONSULTATION.
WE WANT A FULL AND VIGOROUS EXAMINATION INTO THE VIABILITY OF A DIRECT ACCESS FROM BOURN AIRFIELD ON TO THE A428.
The following notice has been received from South Cambridgeshire District Council. Please note that the deadline for comments is Monday 29th July at 5pm.
South Cambridgeshire Local Plan
Bourn Airfield New Village Supplementary Planning Document
Notice of Arrangements for Public Participation on Consultation Draft Supplementary Planning Document [Regulation 13 public consultation in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012]
South Cambridgeshire District Council has prepared the draft Bourn Airfield New Village Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for public participation. The purpose of the SPD is to assist in delivering the objectives as set out in Policy SS/7 (Bourn Airfield New Village) of the adopted South Cambridgeshire Local Plan (2018).
The draft Bourn Airfield New Village SPD relates to land located to the south of the A428 on the site of Bourn Airfield situated about 11km west of Cambridge City Centre. The site comprises a former WWII airfield, adjoining agricultural land and a partially occupied employment site. The SPD provides guidance about how the new village should be designed, developed and delivered. It has been prepared to guide a comprehensive approach to development and infrastructure across the whole site.
A six-week consultation period begins on Monday 17 June 2019 during which comments can be made. The responses received will be considered by the Council before finalising the SPD for adoption. All comments must be received by 5pm on 29 July 2019.
From the start of the consultation period the draft SPD and its accompanying Sustainability Appraisal & Habitats Regulations Assessment Screening Report, Equality Impact Assessment and Consultation Statement, and other relevant supporting documents can be viewed online at the District Council’s website (https://www.scambs.gov.uk/bournairfieldspd) and will be available for inspection at: •
We are holding three drop in events locally. This is your chance to come and talk with one of our planning officers about the SPD. The events are:
Thursday 27 Cambourne Village College, Sheepfold Lane Cambourne, CB23 6FR 3.30-8.00pm *
Wednesday 3rd Caldecote Village Hall, Furlong Way, Highfields Caldecote, CB23 7ZH 3.00-7.30pm Wednesday 10th Sheltered Housing Communal Building, Hall Close, Bourn, CB23 2SN 3.00-7.30pm
* Transport officers from Cambridgeshire County Council, Greater Cambridge Partnership and Highways England will also be in attendance at Cambourne.
Key elements of the exhibition will then be on display at the District Council’s offices until the end of the consultation period and on the District Council’s website.
Comments on the consultation documents should be made using the:
Any comments submitted may also be accompanied by a request to be notified of the adoption of the document.
Joint Director for Planning and Economic Development
South Cambridgeshire District Council
Bourn Parish Council recently published their April newsletter which led with the following article:
"Bourn Airfield – Countryside Properties Consultation
Bourn Airfield developers, Countryside Properties, attended a consultation meeting with the Parish Council on 5th March. This was to discuss concerns regarding the impact to local roads and traffic presented by the new development.
The Parish Council is extremely concerned about the mitigation measures Countryside are proposing (which just include monitoring traffic through the village) and unconvinced of the accuracy of the traffic metrics upon which they are basing their mitigation proposals. Their proposal includes an intention to create a modal shift of commuting from cars to buses from 4% to 30% to ease congestion. To date this has not been achieved in comparable developments and seems highly ambitious.
Whilst seeking to assure the Parish Council on the one hand that there would be no adverse impact through the village and on local roads in rush hour, on the other they confirmed that the tolerance /capacity levels on the Cambourne and Hardwick-Dry Drayton roundabouts and routes into Cambridge will be much higher than they are now.
It is inevitable that these routes will become seriously congested when both West Cambourne and Bourn Airfield are built out. When challenged on this, their Transport Consultant confirmed that traffic would be adversely affected but said this would not be considered a problem unless the government’s definition of “severe harm” was reached. This is a very low bar and is ill-defined. Essentially, we were told this is happening, traffic through the village and on access roads to employment centres will be significantly affected, and that we need to “live with it”.
The Parish Council is continuing with steps to challenge the adverse impact on our village. "
Clearly there is still much to do to ensure that this development does not begin until a sustainable level of impact on local people and environments is assured.
A reminder that if you'd like to object to the Outline Planning Application by Countryside for 3,500 houses on Bourn Airfield go to the link below.
An extension has been extended to the consultation period - responses must now be received by mid-January 2019.
Countryside commissioned an (obligatory) archaeological dig on Bourn Airfield in August. On their PR website, they say: "Archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology East, who currently run their business from the airfield are anticipated to commence fieldwork on the Airfield site in August, digging over 225 trenches spread across the whole site." This is required to give "due consideration to the archaeological heritage of the land".
We have recently been contacted by a Caldecote homeowner who has expressed concerns about this activity. As we know, Caldecote will be one of the areas most severely impacted by development on Bourn Airfield. The homeowner writes "A few weeks back the field... was prepared for archaeological studies as part of the planning process prior to the start of phased construction. We watched over the last few weeks as the trenches were dug and, subsequently, waited to see teams of experts and, possibly, academics arriving to comb over each trench searching for evidence of an endangered species or Roman antiquity. The days and weeks passed with no sign of a soils expert or student of history in sight. Then this week the heavy equipment returned and began to close the trenches that were so diligently dug, forming precise and patterned incisions across the fields we've come to cherish".
He writes further, "This left us curious: Were these experts ever dispatched? We surely would have noticed activity, if even episodic, in any one of the dozen or so trenches over the past few weeks. But nothing. Not a tent, nor trowel, nor white hat of any sort was seen looking over or walking between the trenches."
We have been unable to find any answers to our enquiries about this activity. Did it take place? How thorough was it? What was found?
If you know the answers or can shed any light on this please do leave your comments below. Thank you!
Laura Graham and Alan Wood, the inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State to examine the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan have determined that the Plan is an appropriate basis for planning, provided a number of main modifications are made. In effect, the Local Plan is considered sound. This is a disappointing result given the very real shortcomings of the Plan and, most worryingly, it opens the way for 3,500 houses to be built on Bourn Airfield. After more than 4 years of examination and deliberation the report is shockingly brief and surprisingly acquiescent. The Local Plan report pretty much believes everything the council said in its submissions and one has to wonder what pressures were brought to bear on the process for us to end up with such a banal assessment of what has been an enormously contentious Local Plan.
In light of the Report's brevity there remain a number of serious question marks over the thoroughness of the examination process - in spite of the time it took to complete. Most contentious for StopBAD supporters was the closure, by the inspector, of debate and discussion on the modifications to the Local Plan that related to Bourn Airfield at the April 2017 site specific hearings. The modifications included the addition of land parcels adjacent to Highfields Caldecote and a second access from B.A.D. on to Bourn Broadway. Both these modifications have ended up in the Plan. StopBAD are seeking legal advice as to whether this represents a failure of due process and are considering asking for a Judicial Review of the Local Plan Examination.
In addition, the Report's complete disregard for recent events that call into question the deliverability and desirability of a Cambourne to Cambridge busway is surely unacceptable. Paragraph 84 of the Inspectors’ Report states,
At the time this matter was considered at the examination, a certain amount of work had been undertaken investigating options for what is known as the Cambourne to Cambridge Better Bus Journeys project, but no clear route alignment had been confirmed. It is fair to say that the scheme is still at an early phase of development, but the City Deal Executive Board allocated £59 million towards the eastern section of the scheme in January 2015, and we consider that there is a reasonable prospect that the scheme will be completed during the Plan period.
This clearly demonstrates that the Local Plan Report is wholly out of touch with recent developments. The City Deal no longer exists and has been replaced by the Greater Cambridge Partnership which, at the insistence of James Palmer (the new Cambridge and Peterborough mayor), has had to suspend all work on the options for a Cambourne to Cambridge busway 'in order to allow time for the Combined Authority to work through the technical issues, to ensure that when taken, the decision will be evidence based and meet wider alignment and other criteria such as cost, deliverability and timing.’
Many will know that the mayor is very much against a guided bus along the A428 and favours a metro system. Due to the continuing, and reasonable, uncertainty surrounding the final public transport solution for the A428 corridor, there is now considerably less likelihood of a A428 public transport scheme being completed during the Plan period. This make the Inspectors' conclusions enormously suspect. One must ask questions about the validity of the evidence the inspectors assessed given that it was clear that it was out of date well before the inspectors released their Report. If the inspectors found the Local Plan sound on the basis of a reasonable prospect for the delivery within the plan period of a high quality public transport route to serve Bourn Airfield, then they should look again at their decision.
Look out for more updates on these issues.
While South Cambridgeshire District Council continues with its intention to build 3,500 new homes on Bourn Airfield, the Government's latest National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) document states that planning policies should "recognise the importance of maintaining a national network of general aviation facilities - taking into account their economic value in serving business, leisure, training and emergency service needs and the Government's General Aviation Strategy".
The Government's General Aviation Strategy is "to make the UK the best place in the world for General Aviation".
Grant Shapps, Conservative MP, Chair of Parliament's largest All-Party Group, on General Aviation (and previously Minister of State for Housing and Local Government) said in a recent interview that inspectors in local planning processes will have to put more emphasis on the value to society of general aviation. He seeks to reverse the current trend of airfields closing and is working with the APPG to educate MPs and local authorities on the importance of aviation.
If you are concerned about the loss of local aviation which would result from the closure of Bourn Airfield, contact local MP, Heidi Allen, e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now that the dust has begun to settle following the surprising Local Election results, it's worth reflecting on what the results might mean for the StopBAD campaign.
Due to the boundary changes that saw Bourn, Longstowe and Little Gransden incorporated into a new Caldecote Ward we had two StopBAD supporting District Councillors - Des O'Brien and Tumi Hawkins - competing for one seat on the council. That meant that, irrespective of the result, the campaign to stop 3,500 houses being built on Bourn Airfield would have a spokesperson on the council. In the event, Tumi Hawkins won the Caldecote seat by a comfortable margin and we have a very able councillor at the heart of a now Liberal Democrat-controlled District Council.
The Liberal Democrats - who voted against the Local Plan in 2014 - now have 30 seats while the Conservatives have been reduced to 11. The ousting of so many Conservative councillors - many of whom voted to keep Bourn Airfield in the Local Plan - could be very good news for the campaign.
The architects of our misguided, and much delayed, emerging Local Plan have now left the field: the councillors and officers who concocted the Local Plan have either retired, resigned, or been voted out of office. One would naturally think that the Plan would therefore need to be re-drafted. Unfortunately, that is unlikely and the Local Plan inspection process will continue to its conclusion (latest estimates for the Inspectors' Report is late summer).
The Liberal Democrats find themselves in a tricky position with respect to the Local Plan. While on the face of it a change of Council leadership would suggest a change of policy - such a policy change may not materialise. The Liberal Democrats will be reluctant to derail the Local Plan as it's the only game in town. However, if they defend the Plan as it stands, they are likely to face a significant backlash from their supporters and others who are worried about the glaringly obvious transport infrastructure weaknesses that undermine the Local Plan.
It will be important over the coming weeks and months for StopBAD to speak to the Liberal Democrat leadership and the new Liberal Democrat councillors, to re-iterate our case against BAD. Many of the new councillors are first time councillors and may not yet be fully briefed on the Local Plan. Some will not be aware of the StopBAD campaign and our arguments against the inclusion of Bourn Airfield in the Local Plan.
What the election results made clear was that local people were unhappy with the direction their local representatives were taking the District. This new council must be better at listening to local residents' concerns about the nature and scale of housing development and they must develop and communicate a vision for South Cambridgeshire's future in partnership with the people who live here.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the government's planning policy for England, and includes new housing development.
New alterations are being proposed for a revised NPPF which aims to protect airfields and add them to the list excluded from the definition of previously developed land. These changes may come too late to protect Bourn Airfield from unwanted development but could help save other airfields similarly under threat throughout England.
The changes are proposed by the All Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG-GA). StopBAD supports these alterations and we encourage you to do the same. As they say, it can't hurt and could be helpful.
You don't need to be a pilot to take part in this consultation which is open to all. You can add your support by clicking on the link www.generalaviationappg.uk/nppf/
The APPG-GA is supported by by our local MP, Heidi Allen, who is a member of the group.