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.
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.
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.
The revised Local Plan was released by South Cambs District Council last week and confirmed that the councils are not just ploughing on with their plans for major developments at Bourn Airfield and West Cambourne, but are seeking to bring the timescales forward.
Bourn District Councillor Des O'Brien is today quoted in the Cambridge News:
There's a real sense of frustration among objectors," he said.
"It's as clear to neutral observers as it was to the inspector during the examination in public that a new settlements strategy alone fails on so many levels, and yet the councils are unwilling to listen. The announcement yesterday sends several clear signals.
"The councils have chosen to ignore one of the inspector's central criticisms. If all of the housing in the new planned period are concentrated in new settlements, then the councils have departed from their own sustainable development strategy, and must point to a new development strategy that protects the green belt at all costs.
"The announcement that Waterbeach and Bourn may come forward early in the planned period is a straightforward admission that they have failed with the delivery of Northstowe - certain now to be renamed Northslow. Delivery of new settlements - because of the infrastructure requirements - inevitably inevitably takes longer.
"Building car dependent settlements 10 and more miles from Cambridge and the places people work will be the ruination of South Cambridgeshire, and yet South Cambs are stubbornly pursuing this policy.
"What I have learned since becoming a district councillor is that our local authority would rather continue to be wrong that to admit to making a mistake. Unfortunately, it will be the residents of South Cambridgeshire who will have to live with the consequences of this intransigence."
Read the full article here.
A full public meeting is expected to be held in early January in Bourn for local people and interested parties - further details will be posted here as they become available.
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.
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%.
Even as South Cambridgeshire District Council's Local Plan (which includes proposals for 5,000 new homes in Cambourne and Bourn Airfield) is being scrutinised by the ongoing Examination in Public, developer McA Developments has announced new plans to build 2,350 new homes, two new primary schools and a secondary school in Cambourne. The proposed site would extend from the west of Lower Cambourne to to the A1198 and north to south from the A428 to the Caxton bypass.
South Cambs District Council's Cllr Robert Turner has said "Our job is to now assess these on their merits and look at the case the developers have put forward. Please make sure you take this opportunity to see what has been put forward and have your say.”
The Council has launched a six-week consultation period and are holding the following sessions inviting people to express their views:
Thursday 29 January: Caxton Village Hall, 5pm – 8pm
Friday 30 January: The Hub, High Street, Cambourne, 5pm – 8pm
Saturday 31 January: The Hub, High Street, Cambourne, 10am – 1pm.
We understand that the Council will also be writing to residents in Cambourne and Caxton but not to other local people who will be affected by the additional load on local services such as transport.
You can also express your views on this new proposal by clicking on www.scambs.gov.uk/content/cambourne or by viewing plans in the Council’s offices in Cambourne.
The consultation period closes on Friday 20th February.