Tuesday, 18 March 2014

South Cambs Local Plan by Cllr Sebastian Kindersley

Cllr Sebastian Kindersley
The ‘final’ draft of the Local Development Plan, (which specifies how much development South Cambs will take up to 2031), was approved by the portfolio holder in February. It will now go to the whole Council at a special meeting on 14th March for final, final approval before being submitted to the planning inspector (cost £215,000), for final, final, final approval. There was a lot of unhappiness about the plan especially in relation to the 3 strategic sites at Cambourne West (actually in Caxton), Bourn Airfield and Waterbeach. The Cambourne West site will really fill in the land between Cambourne and the A1198 and will undoubtedly cause mayhem on both that road and the A428 for ever more. Those campaigning against the development of Bourn Airfield quite rightly point out that though it is designated as a brown field site, when viewed from the air it is actually very green with most of the land between the 2 runways being actively farmed.

The people of Waterbeach would like development to be limited to 900 houses on the old airfield not 3500 on the fields surrounding their village.

What we cannot understand is why all this development is not going to Northstowe which was approved years ago and which, thanks to the guided bus, has much of its infrastructure already in place. Furthermore – why develop 3 new villages (which is effectively what we plan to do) which will all require substantial infrastructure (much of which will have to be repeated in each new village) when we know as a fact that we will not get enough developer contributions to pay for it. If the recent S106 agreement for Northstowe is anything to go by we will only get 50% of what we need. So why not make the most of the cash we get and pay for proper decent infrastructure at one place (Northstowe) instead of 4?

We are told in response that the “development industry” cannot deliver the level of housing on an annual basis that we need to keep speculative planning applications away. Again this makes no sense. It is surely easier for the development industry to work on 5 close sites (at Northstowe) than 5 stretched along the A428, A10 and A14. So pushing this point we are finally told that the housebuilders want to be able to offer the new home purchaser a “choice” of new developments. Is this a good and sound basis on which to plan the future of South Cambs? Doesn’t the potential purchaser already have 105 Parishes from which to choose a new home? A classic tale of the tail wagging the dog we think……..