Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Councillors Approve £20,000 Per Home Agreement For Facilities At Northstowe

Councillors have voted in favour of plans that would see £20,000 invested in community facilities and infrastructure for every home built during the first phase of Northstowe.

The principles of the £30 million agreement with developers, which will secure these contributions, were approved by County and District councillors on the Northstowe Joint Development Control Committee today (Tuesday 19 March). This would see a new primary school built, millions of pounds invested in sports and recreation facilities and an £8 million contribution toward a secondary school that will open before all the homes are built in the first phase.

Developers will also commit a further £41 million from the first phase of the town for landscaping, roads, utilities and new reservoirs to create a water park. This is 25% of the overall cost of this work for the whole town while 15% of the overall homes will be built.

Securing a £20,000 developer contribution toward facilities for every home built during the first phase of the new town is above average for when compared to similar developer agreements elsewhere in the district, but councillors also said that further government funding is being sought to get the new town off the ground as quickly as possible.

In November Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced a £225 million of funding pot for large scale housing schemes in England – including Northstowe – and a bid has been submitted to government to unlock cash.

In a letter received by council bosses yesterday from Richard Hill, Interim Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, said that the investment committee had agreed the principle of investing in Northstowe and the Board will consider the proposal again next month to make a final decision.

Councillors also agreed today that at least one in five of the 1,500 homes planned in the first phase will be affordable and more will be included in future phases.

Negotiations with developers on the first phase application means plans also include a cycleway linking Northstowe and Bar Hill. A network of cycleways and footpaths are also planned to give easy access for Northstowe residents to The Busway and improvements to the Bar Hill junction of the A14.

The plans for the Bar Hill junction follow a Government announcement in October last year committing £7.7 million to widen the A14 between Girton and Histon in 2014 as a short term measure to alleviate congestion and improve safety, in advance of a major upgrade to the road.

Council officers will now complete the section 106 planning agreement before the outline planning permission for the first 1,500 homes is granted.

A series of detailed planning applications are now expected to be submitted throughout the year by Gallagher Estates to agree the exact details of the homes and facilities in the first phase.

Work on site could begin later this year with the first homes being built in 2014.

Cllr Tim Wotherspoon, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for Northstowe, said: “Quality has always been a top priority for Northstowe and in the current climate it is good news that we have an agreement on the table that will secure more funding per home for community facilities and infrastructure than is average for recent developments in the area. We have listened to what residents have said and want to make sure facilities are in place as early as possible so that a real community can be built. We are committed to making sure Northstowe is a place people want to live, work and go to school and extra government funding is also being sought to get it off to the best start.”

Cllr Ian Bates, Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet member for growth and infrastructure, said: “The Busway is already in place to provide high quality public transport links for the first residents at Northstowe and this agreement will make sure the other facilities needed are in place. Securing a secondary school during the first phase of the new town is excellent news and will help get the largest new town since Milton Keynes off to a good start. Major improvements to the A14 are vital to allow future phases of the town to go ahead and we will continue to work with partners and the government to make sure action is taken soon.”