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.
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.
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.
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.
After a lengthy quiet period, the South Cambridgeshire specific Examination in Public (EIP) gets underway in December 2016. It will run into January, February and March before the site specific sessions are held.
For further details of the EIP schedule see here: http://www.scambs.gov.uk/local-plan-examination
There is a meeting scheduled for 8th November covering modifications to the Local Plan and it will specifically reference possible modifications to Bourn Airfield. We are currently trying to find out more details about this and will publicise this as it becomes available.
So, the focus and attention on opposing the proposed development at Bourn Airfield now resumes! Please continue to follow progress here, on Twitter and Facebook and let's keep the pressure up.
The Inspectors examining the Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Local Plans have released a new programme, with dates of hearings for the first of the South Cambridgeshire only hearing sessions.
The hearings programme now includes:
Matters and Issues have also been released that relate to the first blocks of the South Cambridgeshire-only hearing sessions. These Matters and Issues relate to climate change policies, housing allocations at villages, housing policies, provision and protection of services and facilities policies, and environmental health policies.
The updated programme and the matters and issues are available online and can be found via the following link: www.scambs.gov.uk/local-plan-examination.
The Examination in Public starts again on 7th June with an examination of objectively assessed housing need. The 8th June sees a review of both Councils' 5-year housing land supply and the proposed Joint Housing Trajectory, and finally on 9 June 2016 there's further consideration of the Green Belt Review methodology.
The summer will be taken up with an examination Cambridge City’s Local Plan. Watch out for updates on the SCDC plan in the Autumn.
The Examination in Public (EIP) is re-opening. Week 1 (Block 5) commences on the 7th June and covers Overall Spatial Vision, Housing Need and Green Belt. We will be making a statement for this section.
The South Cambs Strategic Sites Hearings are set for Block 13 week 1. These hearings will not be until the end of the year and participants are not listed in the Hearings Programme (Version 8). There will be an update later in the year.
A message from Cllr Des O'Brien:
I plan to reopen this channel over the next few months as the ‘New’ Local Plan consultation is underway. The first thing to say is that so far SCDC have not listened to the criticisms levelled at their Plan by either local people, or the Government Inspector: they are effectively re-presenting it with a few modifications and seem hell bent on ploughing forward regardless.
For me the Plan failed at the very beginning and, rather than admit their errors, both Councils - Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire - are digging the hole deeper still and look set to condemn our District to carmageddon.
A central feature of the Plan is that they have chosen to build in new settlements and not on the fringes of Cambridge. This is in spite of the fact that this U turn contradicted the Councils’ own Sustainable Development Strategy. The justification for this is wholly inconsistent as the Councils’ attempt to defend the Green Belt against sprawl, encroachment into the countryside and merging of settlements and yet completely ignore these same arguments in relation to West Cambourne and B.A.D. These two new settlements are the most obvious example I could ever imagine of urban sprawl, encroachment into the countryside and merging of settlements. Sadly, the Councils have lost their way completely and their blindness is set ruin our area forever.
Can I ask again that people make their voices heard and respond vigorously to the consultation between now and the 25th of January.