News and Updates
Examination of the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan was suspended by the Planning Inspector in May 2015 to enable SCDC to address two points. Firstly, the Inspector was concerned that the Local Plan jumped to the idea of new settlements (e.g., the proposal for 3,500 houses on Bourn Airfield) without adequately examining the alternative of building in the Green Belt south of Cambridge, Secondly she considered that the overall housing requirements may have been underestimated. SCDC is working to address the Inspector’s concerns and will issue a revised Local Plan, for public consultation, in November. Have your say!
Coalition of Parish Councils. Bourn Parish Council convenes a Coalition of 16 parish councils concerned about unsustainable housing development in the A428 corridor. We argued to the Inspector that new housing developments like West Cambourne and Bourn Airfield would increase rat-running through our villages as people living in the new houses would have to drive to work. This is because most of the new job opportunities will be concentrated in the Addenbrookes’ biomedical park and related developments (e.g., Astra Zeneca) south of the city. The Coalition will review the revised plan and play an active part in the next round of hearings to be organised by the Inspector.
Cambourne to Cambridge busway. The county, city and district councils would like to use up to £100 million of City Deal money to establish a dedicated busway from Cambourne to a new ‘park and ride’ facility near Madingley Mulch and on into Cambridge. Three routes have been proposed, one down Madingley Hill and the others to the north and south of this. It would be a bus route and not a guided busway.
We recognise that a dedicated bus route would be useful to some people living in Cambourne and to users of the proposed new park and ride scheme. But, over 80% of people living in Cambourne currently travel to work by car. People in South Cambridgeshire work all over the district and a better bus service to Cambridge will not help them or residents of any future development! The dedicated bus route proposal will be published for public consultation on the 12th October. Have your say!
Brilliant news and a great interim result for StopBAD!In a letter issued by the Inspectors last week, SCDC and Cambridge City Council have been asked by the inspectors to carry out more work on the testing of alternatives to the development strategy. This will include ensuring that alternative options of building extra homes on the edge of Cambridge have been considered in the same way as proposed allocations for additional homes at new towns and new villages – a strategy more people preferred during early public consultation. South Cambs Lib Dem leader Cllr Bridget Smith described the inspectors' letter as suggesting "a planning disaster".
The councils will now need to comprehensively test the alternative development strategy for building on the fringe of Cambridge and fairly and even-handedly compare the sustainability of that model against the new settlement model.
This is as good a result as the StopBAD campaign could have expected from the EIP. Had the inspectors not provided these preliminary findings, and the EIP had continued uninterrupted to its conclusion, they should certainly have found the Local Plan unsound. The Councils have been given a reprieve. They need to fix the problems - chief among them the unsustainability of the new settlements model as outlined in the current Local Plan. They also the need to revisit the decision to build only 6% of proposed houses in sites on the urban fringe - the 2nd tier option from the Sustainable Development Strategy.
LibDem District Councillor Tumi Hawkins said, "I am not entirely surprised by the preliminary conclusion that the Inspector has reached. Whilst it puts SCDC in a difficult position of having to go back to the drawing board on some issues, it vindicates the arguments that those of us who have raised questions about the suitability of BAD, especially in relation to transport and infrastructure issues. We told SCDC, but it would not listen.
StopBAD have campaigned long and hard, and we should appreciate the work that all the volunteers have done to date to put forward the case for Stopping BAD".
Cllr Des O'Brien said "I see a new public consultation and a more rigorous, open and honest debate on the Green Belt looming". In an interview for the Cambridge News earlier he said, "Cambridge can't have its cake and eat it".
Further meetings are now scheduled this week to address these issues and we will continue to keep you posted.
A number of you have been in touch for information on where each of the parliamentary candidates for the South Cambridgeshire constituency stand in relation to the proposed developments at Bourn Airfield and West Cambourne. Accordingly, we have been in touch with each of the five candidates and asked them for a statement. To date responses are as follows:
Heidi Allen - Conservative
...had I been around the table when sites for inclusion in the local plan were decided, I would have wanted us to look harder for alternative locations. As it stands, we risk having absolutely no separation between villages as we head West. The plan, you will be aware is now with the Inspector for consideration, so I am not in a position to influence the historical choices. I see there are two opportunities where I could influence going forward, subject to being successfully elected in May.
1. If the plan is accepted, I will demand we focus our attentions on a better road, facility and public transport strategy such that the development has a hope of working, being sustainable and not adding to the problems we already face in the region.
2. If these sites are rejected in the plan, then I will actively engage with local authorities and the public to see where better sites may exist.
Sebastian Kindersley - Liberal Democrat
I am profoundly against building a single home on Bourn Airfield. Already the new homes in Cambourne are lapping at Bourn near the Broadway and any further development along the A428 will simply create a giant sprawling village from Caxton Gibbet to Hardwick – this is not the way to do things – unplanned, unsustainable, unwanted and unwelcome.
Moreover, it beggars belief to think that 3500 houses plus all the community facilities to support it can be squeezed into the area being proposed – like trying to squeeze in Cambourne into an area half its size!
We now only have a limited amount of developer contributions to look forward to at any new site. That money needs to be used to its maximum effect. Building a series of unsustainable settlements along the A428 (and indeed the A10) spreads that developer contribution so thinly that we will only be building dormitories with few facilities and poor infrastructure, unpopular with house-buyers and local people alike.
The impact of Cambourne on the Bourn Valley has seen an increase in flooding over the years. This is likely to get worse if Bourn Airfield is built on. Where will the water go?
I would be the first to say that we desperately need homes, especially affordable ones. It would be far more sensible to put the houses needed at Northstowe where we really can make the developer contributions (which fund schools, roads, community centres, libraries, street lights, medical facilities, allotments to name but a few) go so much further to deliver a sustainable community which we can all be proud of and where people will want to live.
People who live in Cambourne already travel out of there in all directions to work and that is what is likely to happen with any new development at Bourn Airfield. Transport and the implications of thousands more houses along the A428 (not just in South Cambs but Hunts as well) makes me shudder. There is no practicable or sensible plan for resolving the issue of congestion that occurs every day on Madingley Rise - let alone in the future. An opportunity was missed when the A14 upgrade at Girton Interchange did not include the much called for and needed link onto the M11 from the A428.
At Northstowe, by contrast, there is already a high quality public transport linking Cambridge and Huntingdon actually up and running with scope for increased capacity, whilst the A14 upgrade will provide additional road capacity.
We are assured the City Deal will solve all the transport problems. It might – but at the moment that risk is far too great and the decisions taken so far inspire little confidence. So my position is simple - NO to Bourn Airfield and Yes to StopBAD. Best of luck!
Dan Greef - Labour- has acknowledged our request for a statement and we are waiting to hear further.
Neither Marion Mason (UKIP) or Simon Saggers (Green Party) have replied to our communication.
Following the February hearings on the independent examination of South Cambridgeshire's Local Plan there is now a short break while the planning inspector, Laura Graham, digests the material and information gathered to date. At the February sessions the coalition of 14 local parish councils, led by Bourn Parish Council, submitted a statement on transport issues (see here for the statement). In the statement the coalition argued that:
The Examination in Public hearings turned to transport issues last week and saw both South Cambs District Council and Cambridge City Council come under fierce criticism on their transport proposals.
In a series of rigorous questioning and comments from local campaigners, elected representatives and developers, the council's plans were attacked for a lack of any detail on the essential transport infrastructure, and being unable to identify a transport scheme to address the proposed increase in housing. Referring to the A428 corridor which will be severely affected by the addition of 5,000 new homes at Bourn Airfield and West Cambourne, David Bell, from planners Bryan G Hall said "This is a corridor that already suffers from serious congestion. The council’s own modelling shows even with the infrastructure in place, it will continue to suffer severe congestion... The council have provided no evidence they know what’s going to be delivered at this moment, and where it’s going to be delivered.”
The lack of a credible, coherent transport strategy is proving to be the Achilles heel for the councils and is leading to some apparently ill-thought out and hastily put together measures. In response to this criticism, South Cambs planning policy manager Caroline Hunt said that improved orbital routes to take traffic to the north and south of Cambridge would save buses having to go into Cambridge. Such 'orbital route improvements' were news to many including Bourn Parish Councillor Steve Jones. Speaking on behalf of the coalition of 14 local parish councils, Cllr Jones said, “I suspect these are coming out of thin air. What we’re proposing to do is go ahead with possible development of West Cambourne and Bourn Airfield quite quickly, without adequate infrastructure. The cost of that is going to be on these communities that live in this part of South Cambs.”
The coalition's transport report was presented to the hearing. It includes a recently carried out detailed traffic survey which indicates that the county council has under-estimated traffic levels by 50%.