Friday, 13 April 2012

Updated Northstowe Frequently Asked Questions

Northstowe Proposed Development
The Northstowe Parish Forum has just received an update on the Frequently Asked Questions relating to the new development. I've extracted the list and duplicated it below;

Why do we need Northstowe now?
The Council has a duty to deliver housing to meet an identified need. A percentage of these new homes will be ‘affordable’ and will accommodate some of the large number of people on the Council’s housing lists. In planning policy terms the principle of Northstowe has been established for a number of years and this latest application seeks to comply with the policy requirements set out in the Northstowe Area Action Plan 2007 (NAAP).

The housing and employment opportunities at Northstowe are needed in addition to the other large sites that are being developed on the fringes of Cambridge, and the sites that will come forward as the Council develops its new Local Plan.

Why is Phase 1 being brought forward ahead of the A14 upgrade or without a bypass of the B1050?
Although the previously proposed scheme for the A14 was unaffordable the Government is committed to increasing capacity on the road. South Cambs. and other local councils are on the steering group overseeing a study on the upgrade of the A14 that is being carried out by the Department for Transport (DfT), the outcomes of which are expected in July. Any decision on Phase 1 of Northstowe is likely to be taken following the announcement of the outcomes of this study. In the short term there is £20m to fund a package of measures, which can be implemented almost immediately, to increase capacity by smoothing traffic flow or providing opportunities to remove local traffic from the A14.

Phase 1 could take between seven to ten years to build out, with the build rate being affected by market forces. A Transport Assessment (TA) has been submitted as part of the application to identify any impacts of Northstowe traffic on the existing highway network during construction and once Phase 1 is completed. The applicant proposes the use of travel plans (residential, schools and workplace) to encourage more sustainable modes of transport and limit the impact upon local highways. Moreover, the mix of residential and employment within Phase 1, and the proposals for more direct routes for pedestrians and cyclists to services and facilities, are an attempt to internalize traffic as much as possible and limit the need for residents to use the private car.

The impact of traffic is recognised as a significant concern locally, particularly on the B1050, and the County Council, in its role as the Local Highway Authority, will be reviewing the TA in order to evaluate the implications on local highways.

Why isn’t the airfield being developed before the golf course?
In planning terms the airfield and golf course constitute developed land and they both fall within the core area identified in the NAAP. Previously an inspector considered the loss of the golf course and concluded that it was not reasonable to require its replacement. New sports facilities are proposed at the sports hub and new footpaths and cycleways would be provided across the site linking up formal and informal open spaces. It is proposed to retain all existing public rights of way, though some would be rerouted. Every effort would be made to keep these routes open during the construction period.

The rationale of starting Northstowe in the north is that Phase 1 would benefit from being near to the CGB Park and Ride and would have access from the B1050 and the Longstanton bypass. The local centre buildings, uses and associated green space would form an important gateway into Northstowe and the retail units would benefit from passing trade on the B1050, making them more viable. Phase 1 also contains a number of strategic facilities that serve the wider town (one of the dedicated employment areas, one of the sports hubs, the site for the household recycling facility, the terminal foul water pumping station and a significant part of the surface water drainage infrastructure).

An early development of the airfield site would either result in residential and construction traffic being routed through Longstanton or require accesses to be provided from the north or south. There would be significant cost implications in providing such accesses, which could affect the viability of the project, as well as providing the strategic infrastructure to serve the development, most of which would come from the north and could result in the loss of parts of the golf course.

Will there be enough water to serve the development?
Cambridge Water and Anglian Water have been aware of Northstowe as it has gone through the planning policy process that allocated the site, and they have been consulted on these latest proposals. Both bodies are aware of the strategic importance of Northstowe and have always stated that they can serve the new town. Moreover, the proposals involve a range of measures designed to reduce water consumption within the new town.

Is adequate provision made for schools?
A three-form entry primary school is proposed as part of the Phase 1 application in order to meet the needs of the population. Moreover, the school providers are proposing interim secondary education within the primary school when it opens, which would be a temporary arrangement until a secondary school came forward. The developers would make a financial contribution towards secondary education and the County Council is working on proposals for a secondary school on land adjacent to Phase 1. This school would be the subject of a separate planning application and could be delivered as early as 2018 in order to take children from Northstowe and Longstanton.

It is proposed that both schools would provide a focus for the new community by offering space for evening classes and groups to gather. The secondary school would be a major destination in Northstowe and its association with and proximity to the town centre, a sports hub and the eastern water park, would provide a critical mass of facilities and services in a central and easily accessible location.

Does Phase 1 provide sufficient local jobs and recreation and community facilities to reduce the need to travel?
In order to limit the need for people to travel outside of Northstowe to meet their daily needs, as well as providing schooling, 5ha of employment land is also proposed. The shops and community building at the local centre would provide jobs, in addition to those at the primary school and sports hub. The applicant indicates that over six hundred jobs could be created within Phase 1.

The proposed community building would include flexible space for use by a range of organisations including clubs, societies, health providers, the police and faith groups. It is expected that community facilities would also be provided in the primary school and at the sports hub. There would also be allotments and a community orchard with the green separation.

Does the Phase 1 development provide sufficient green separation for Longstanton?
The width of the proposed green separation extends from 70 metres adjacent to the B1050 roundabout up to approximately 290 metres at the southern end. The majority of the separation is over 200 metres wide. Uses that are proposed within this area include informal recreation, sports pitches and facilities and allotments, all of which would accord with the policies of the NAAP.