News and Updates
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
The next round of hearings for the Local Plan Examinations for Bourn Airfield start on 4 April 2017 at South Cambridgeshire Hall in Cambourne.
In preparation for these hearings, the Inspector has produced a series of questions ("Matters and Issues") for inclusion in the examination and has invited responses from interested parties. The deadline for these responses was yesterday, 16 February. StopBAD (as well as the Coalition of Parish Councils led by Bourn Parish Council) has made detailed and updated submissions responding to these questions. In a series of updates here, we are releasing our submissions on a section by section basis for your reference, beginning with the matter of site sustainability regarding employment. [If you would like to download a copy of the full submission, see below].
StopBAD Statement in response to Matter SC6C - Policy SS/6
i. Does the site represent a sustainable location in respect of the proximity and accessibility to key centres of employment?
The answer to this question is clearly no. As illustrated in Figure 1 and Figure 2 the key employment centres are in Cambridge City itself, at the Science Park off Milton Road, at Addenbrookes and the Biomedical Campus, and further south at the Babraham Research Campus and Granta Park. At the moment there are in the region of 118,500 jobs at these 5 sites. Furthermore, the concentration of employment at these sites is set to significantly increase with plans already in place to employ 30,000 people on the Biomedical Campus.
The only significant employers near the Bourn Airfield site are the South Cambridge District Council and Papworth Hospital - which will relocate 2000 jobs to the Biomedical Campus next year (2018). There is now universal consensus among statutory bodies and observers that R&D Health Sciences companies and agencies will look increasingly to work in close proximity with one another and consequently there is little prospect that this pattern of employment dispersal will change.
Bourn Airfield is not a sustainable distance away from the main centres of employment and represents an over-concentration of housing development away from the main centres of employment.
Figure 1: Distribution of major centres of employment Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire
Figure 2: Royal Town Planning Institute Map of Major Employment Clusters (Cambridge)
Wessex Economics' conducted the Cambourne Employment Sites Study on behalf of the developers of West Cambourne and concluded that “the lack of recent office development is an indication that Cambourne has fallen out of favour as an office location. This is confirmed by trends reported in the most recent Employment Land Review undertaken for SCDC and CCC. The great majority of large scale office occupiers want to be in Cambridge itself, while biotech firms are drawn to business parks to the south of Cambridge.”
More damning still for the prospects of Bourn Airfield as a sustainable location was the admission by Wessex Economics that “an expanded employment base in Cambourne would be unlikely to significantly increase self-containment in the sense that a much higher proportion of people will live and work in Cambourne.” They conclude “there is not a strong planning rationale for seeking to ensure a balance of jobs and homes in a relatively small settlement such as Cambourne”.
The great majority, 75.9%, of Cambourne residents travel to work by car. Bus use remains low (about 5%) and, apart from a tiny minority of hardy and fit enthusiasts, cycling to work is not an option and walking is completely impractical because of the distances involved.
Prospects for improved accessibility to Cambridge and the business parks to the south, took a considerable blow recently when Highways England confirmed that they would not be re-considering their decision NOT to build an all-ways interchange at Girton. This effectively means that eastbound A428 traffic heading to Addenbrookes and the southern biotech campuses, either gets caught up in the severe congestion on Madingley Hill, or takes evasive routes through the villages to access the M11 further south. Eastbound A428 traffic would lose its existing dual carriageway access to the north of Cambridge to be replaced by a single lane slipway. The prioritising of westbound A14 traffic will worsen substantially the situation for eastbound A428 traffic just at the time when A428 traffic is set to substantially increase.
Figure 3: Highways Agency proposed A14/M11/A428 junction
 Information on file at SCDC.
 Data from Cambridgeshire County Council 2011 census. 75.9% of working people drive directly or drive to a train station.
We will add further submitted responses to the other questions here over the coming days. In the meantime please do make a note of the timetable:
Tuesday 4th April - 10am and 2pm at South Cambridgeshire Hall, Cambourne - The New Village at Bourn Airfield
Wednesday 5th April 10am and 2pm - Site Visits
Thursday 6th April 10am and 2pm - Continuation sessions if required.
In the month or so since this government e-petition was launched it has now reached over 18,000 signatures. This means it will now receive a response from the Government (triggered once 10,000 signatures are reached). If it reaches 100,000 it will be considered for a debate in parliament.
"This petition calls for a parliamentary debate on government Housing and Planning policy over building on greenfield land and seeks community right of appeal on planning decisions and the removal of the presumption in favour of sustainable development.
Too many communities are now forced to accept large housing developments seeing the irreversible loss of valuable greenfields without the right of appeal. The failure of government planning policy has resulted in the loss of valued countryside and agricultural land and leaves communities forced to grow too fast without appropriate infrastructure. Major changes to planning legislation are required to protect established communities across the UK and deliver the right housing in the right places."
If you haven't already done so, do sign this petition: Sign this petition