News and Updates
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.
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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
Your voice matters!
As we approach the 4th April hearings on the proposed Bourn Airfield Development, a reminder of the importance of strong and visible local opinion comes from the following news story.
In 2016, housing developer Gladman Developments were refused permission to build over 300 new houses in Ledbury by Herefordshire Council. The proposed development was hugely unpopular with local people who argued that the location was unsustainable (At a local site meeting, with feelings reported to be "running very high" 35 local people walked for nearly two miles to make their views known).
Gladman Developments appealed against the Council to the Planning Inspectorate at a Hearing held in February 2016. As the Council insisted that the Hearings be held in Hereford, over 17 miles away from Ledbury, only a handful of Ledbury residents were able to attend because distance precluded those at work just nipping out during their lunch break to show a presence. As a consequence Gladman Developments, and their 11 representatives who attended the Hearing, used this to make the point that there was limited local interest, to back their argument.
Gladman Developments won their appeal to the Planning Inspectorate to build the new houses.
Your voice matters! Do come along for the first day of the Hearings on 4th April at 9:30am at South Cambs Hall in Cambourne and be seen and heard.
Sign up and let us know you're coming.
Many Bourn residents will recall assurances given in 1996 from South Cambridgeshire District Council that the new Cambourne development would not be permitted to increase traffic into Bourn.
A minute from the Planning Committee meeting of 24 April 1996 records as "Resolved that there should be no emergency vehicle and bus link between the new village [Cambourne] and The Broadway". Specifically, we were told that "such access will never be allowed".
With additional bus traffic from Cambourne via this new link, as well as additional new traffic if Bourn Airfield goes ahead, traffic in Bourn village could be set to become a major problem.
If we value our beautiful and historic village we must say no to this constant encroachment.
1. Write to your District Councillors and express your concerns. Their email addresses are: Councillor Peter Topping - Cllr.Topping@SCambs.gov.UK Councillor Nick Wright - Cllr.Wright@SCambs.gov.uk and Councillor Des O'Brien - Cllr.Obrien@SCambs.gov.uk
2. Come along to the start of the next Local Plan Hearing on 4th April and show your support to stop the proposed development at Bourn Airfield - further details are here.
In the third of our series of updates, the following is our response to the Inspector's question regarding the designation of the Bourn airfield site as previously developed (brownfield) land. This was included in our submission to the Inspector on 16 February 2017.
In respect of paragraph 3.40, what proportion of the site as a whole can be classified as previously developed land?
While we acknowledge that airfields, as land that has been previously developed, are now to be regarded as brownfield land we would like to point out that a central premise of the policy has been, and remains, that it should not be assumed that the whole of the curtilage of a brownfield site should be developed. This has been made clear in the definitions of previously developed land set out in Planning Policy Guidance. The definition in Planning Policy Guidance 3 included a footnote that defined curtilage and stated “where the footprint of a building only occupies a proportion of a site of which the remainder is open land (such as at an airfield or a hospital) the whole site should not normally be developed to the boundary of the curtilage.”
The glossary to the National Planning Policy Framework defines previously developed land is "Land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure, including the curtilage of the developed land (although it should not be assumed that the whole of the curtilage should be developed) and any associated fixed surface infrastructure."
Clearly the vast majority of the Bourn Airfield site is agricultural land and woodland. Within the original Major Development Site area the runways and perimeter tracks represent only 16% of the total, the remainder being farmed land. The runways and industrial areas occupy just 14% of the total AAP. This is illustrated below.
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