News and Updates
In the last couple of weeks we have received many comments from residents who have found SCDC's consultation process cumbersome and difficult to complete. SCDC's online consultation portal has been found to be clunky to navigate through, complex and very time-consuming. The downloadable form (see here), whilst much simpler, still requires cross-referencing between different online pages and a degree of prior knowledge and information.
We consider that this process has lacked the requisite accessibility, plain English and opportunity to encourage the engagement which government stipulates such consultation should enable. Even those of us involved in StopBAD for a number of years and with huge amounts of information and documentation behind us, have found this a lengthy and confusing process. We are concerned that many people will switch off either because they lack the time needed or through sheer frustration.
We'd love to hear about your experience. Have you taken part in the consultation yet or tried to? How did you find it? Please do share your comments below - if the process has proved an obstacle to putting your views forward, we will make this known.
As regular readers will know, the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan was submitted for examination in March 2014. The plan sets out how the development needs in the area will be met to the year 2031. The examination process is being carried out by independent planning inspectors to determine whether the Local Plan is sound and has complied with the necessary legal requirements.
The plan has now reached the next key stage in the process. Overturning an earlier decision that the 'Main Modifications' did not need addressing, the Inspectors have now asked that consultation be carried out on the Main Modifications which may be necessary in order for the Local Plan to be judged sound.
Two of the most significant modifications regarding the proposed development at Bourn Airfield concern the extension of the building boundary nearer to Highfields Caldecote and allowing northbound-only access onto the Broadway in Bourn.
It is important that the Inspectors are made aware of local opinion on these modifications.
StopBAD is keen to instigate a further Hearing on these modifications in order that they can be explored appropriately. To achieve this it is important that the Inspectors are clearly aware of the strength of the objections among local people. To make your opinion known, please go to the website -https://www.scambs.gov.uk/mainmods and have your say.
This consultation period is running from Friday 5th January to Friday 16th February.
We have been made aware of a recent letter from Conservative MP Grant Shapps to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid.
In the letter written on 6th December 2017, he draws attention to the apparent contradiction between the government's stated intention to preserve airfields and their support for housing development on the same sites. Writing as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation, Mr Shapps says,
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on General Aviation has dismissed claims from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government that “the current [planning] approach remains appropriate” when considering airfield sites for development.
He goes on to list 15 airfields, including Bourn Airfield, which are threatened with closure for development out of just 96 now remaining in the UK.
To see the full correspondence, click here.
What are your views? We'd love to hear what you think.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership: Cambourne to Cambridge Consultation 2017/18 - What You Should Know
As you may know, the Greater Cambridge Partnership (or 'GCP', previously known as the Greater Cambridge City Deal) is a delivery body (comprising Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, the University of Cambridge and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership) in a city deal with central government to improve infrastructure, employment and housing in the area. The deal will bring around £1 billion of investment into the region over fifteen years. So far, so good and you can see more about the work of the GCP by going to their website - www.greatercambridge.org.uk.
However, it is important to know that those in positions of power are, inevitably, looking to use this funding to further their own political agendas and pet projects. That of course, is fine - that is what we elect politicians for. But what is becoming increasingly apparent is that many of these partnership bodies are promoting infrastructure projects that directly, and often indirectly, support other schemes which the public do not prefer.
Between now and January 2018, the GCP is consulting with the public on preferred bus routes from Cambourne to Cambridge. We are aware that many local people are unaware of this consultation process. In particular those of you who oppose the development of Bourn Airfield may like to know that the route favoured by the GCP and most strongly promoted by them in their material - Route C - will be developed over Green Belt land and is likely to cost significantly more (c.£100m) than advertised.
A group of local campaigners has put together a leaflet challenging the information in the official GCP brochure. The Local Liaison Forum (LLF) for thé A428 corridor comprises district and parish councillors from South Cambridgeshire and councillors and residents' groups from Cambridge. Their leaflet draws attention to a series of important errors and omissions on the GCP's consultation brochure. These include:
• Misleading information on the cost of schemes
• Vital missing information on Green Belt impact
• Major errors in the description of the community option, Route B
• Incorrect information on journey times and reliability
• Critical omissions in the comparison of Park & Ride sites
Please see the attached leaflet below for further details. Most importantly do look at the GCP's consultation website here and make your views known. We urge you to support Route B.
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.
Did you know, due to the lack of a 5 year housing plan affecting South Cambs, 3,064 dwellings (not in the Local Plan) received planning permission from June 2014 to March 2017. Since March this year, there have been a further 1,237 dwelling approvals. That's a total of 4,301. These are dwellings that were not taken into consideration in the Local Plan!
Why do we still need 3,500 houses on Bourn Airfield?
It has been a quiet summer in terms of news regarding the Bourn Airfield Development but work has been proceeding both by the proposers of the development and those opposed to it. The work of the independent inspector who is assessing the relative merits of the Plan is ongoing. We have now heard that South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) expect to get a preliminary report from the inspector before the end of the year. This report should set out any modifications needed to make SCDC's plan sound. Any modifications will need to be consulted upon. There are no indications as yet as to the number, or nature, of these modifications.
In the meantime, the developer, Countryside Properties, is pursuing a parallel process with a view to submitting a Planning Application for Bourn Airfield next year. The timing of this parallel process would be affected if any required modifications to the Local Plan regarding Bourn Airfield are indicated.
Please do share this article and let us have your comments.
A recent Cambridge News article reported that the new mayor of Cambridge and Peterborough, James Palmer, is highly critical of the City Deal's plan to build a busway linking Cambourne with Cambridge. The busway is a critical piece of the City Deal's proposal to support the development of new homes in our area including on Bourn Airfield. Mayor Palmer criticised what he described as the short term thinking and lack of strategy associated with the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan:
“This is one of the problems with local government, short-term thinking, putting forward the wrong scheme just to allow South Cambs’ local plan to be passed I think is a problem, and I think is something we are going to have to sort out."
For the full article see here.
We were finally able to voice our very real concerns over the decision to include a new settlement on Bourn Airfield in the Local Plan directly, and in person to the inspector, Laura Graham last week. Ably supported by Bourn Parish Councillor, Steve Jones - and joined by a number of other objectors - we raised all of the issues that we have been concerned about from the outset - including transport, homes being built too far from jobs and the creation of a sprawl of ribbon development along the A428.
We were delighted to see so many people turn out to support the campaign and we remain cautiously optimistic that the inspector will see B.A.D. for what it is - a misguided and wholly unsustainable folly.
There were a number of modifications made to the Policy SS/6 Bourn Airfield in November 2016 - including access to the Broadway and the inclusion of additional parcels of land nearer Highfields Caldecote - and the inspector still has to determine if these modifications are needed to make the plan sound. If they are needed then there's is a very real possibility that there will be further consultations on the modifications as these weren’t covered a the EIP.
The fight goes on!
In the fourth of our series of updates, the following is our response to the Inspector's question concerning ribbon development.
Would the new village result in an over intensification of relatively closely knit settlements south of the A428 creating a form of ribbon development which would be uncharacteristic of this part of South Cambridgeshire?
“While lacking any formal definition, sprawl generally refers to development on the urban fringe of growing areas, but covers a range of settlement patterns from continuous suburbs to linear patterns of strip development... As a model of development, it has been variously associated with increased infrastructure costs, transportation costs, congestion, pollution and loss of natural land, and with reduced public health and accessibility”.
Introduction to the Royal Town Planning Institute 'Location of Development Report'
The problem of coalescence was apparent back in 1992. Paragraph 12.4.1 of the 1992 Inspectors' Report states, 'In the case of Bourn Airfield there would be appear to be almost a continuous ribbon of development from the Broadway eastward along the side of the A45 (now A428) to the Hardwick turn on the A1303 - a distance of 4.5 km.'
Today, the case for coalescence and ribbon development is even more compelling. The 'new village' would result unquestionably in the over intensification of the settlements to the south of the A428 between Hardwick and the Caxton Gibbet roundabout and form a linear pattern of strip development approximately 8 kilometres long. There has been significant development in Caldecote Highfields over the last 10 years and houses have edged ever closer to the A428 and Hardwick. The soon-to-be-completed 950 homes in Upper Cambourne will bring the total number of houses in Cambourne to 4,400 and see houses right up to the Bourn Broadway. The recent approval of 2,350 houses in West Cambourne means that there will be housing to the west right up to the A1198. If Bourn Airfield were to go ahead it would mean that an 8k long stretch of land - that up until 20 years ago was almost exclusively green fields - will have been lost to 10,250 houses. The relaxation of rules on rural housing density further exacerbates the intensification problem. The villages of Bourn, Caldecote, Caxton and Knapwell characterised this area for hundreds of years; this area is NOT characterised by Cambourne alone.
Should the development of Bourn Airfield be given the go-ahead, it would be a clear example of the unrestricted sprawl of a large built-up area; the merging of neighbouring communities; and an encroachment into the countryside that will severely damage the setting and special character of historic villages.
Figure 1 below illustrates the existing settlements to the south of the A428 together with the West Cambourne (1) and the proposed development of Bourn Airfield (2).
Figure 1. (1) West Cambourne new development (2) Proposed Bourn Airfield new development (3) Caldecote (4) Hardwick (5) Caxton
Figure 2 illustrates how the area will look once West Cambourne has been completed and if Bourn Airfield goes ahead. What is immediately apparent is that this creates a continuous ribbon of development of 7.7km (4.7m) from Hardwick (4) and Caldecote (3) to the Caxton Gibbet roundabout.
Figure 2: Potential ribbon development of 8 kilometres from Hardwick to Caxton Gibbet