Wednesday, September 5, 2012
HUNTINGDONSHIRE planners have begun a three-month consultation on where thousands of extra homes should be built in the district in the 10 years beyond 2026.
There are already 9,100 homes in the pipeline for the coming 14 years, including more than 2,000 in Huntingdon – half of them at Northbridge between the A14 and Ermine Street – 3,500 in St Neots, mostly between the railway line and A428 to the east, 800 in St Ives, 750 in Godmanchester, at Bearscroft Farm, and more than 400 in and around Ramsey.
In addition to those, planners have made three assumptions about economic growth up to 2036 – low, medium and high – projecting where the associated population growth might be accommodated.
A further 1,000 homes are earmarked for St Neots on all three scenarios, as are 370 for Huntingdon, with most of the balance at two former airfield sites, Alconbury and Wyton.
On the low growth assumption, 4,500 homes could be built at Alconbury Airfield, where developers Urban&Civic recently submitted an outline planning application that included 5,000 new homes and employment space for 8,000 new jobs.
Medium growth is envisaged as adding 5,300 homes at Alconbury – slightly more than the developers’ estimate, which is wildly exceeded by the planners assumption of 7,220 homes if the economy takes off.
RAF Wyton would take 870 homes on the lower two scenarios and twice as many if the local economy booms.
But the development at RAF Wyton would be protected from merging with the Burleigh Park area of St Ives by one of a series of strategic green corridors in which development would not be allowed.
In addition to the existing protected green spaces along the Great Ouse valley, the Great Fen area and around Grafham Water, planners are suggesting protecting wide swathes of land to the north of Huntingdon and St Ives, around the south of Godmanchester and north and east of an expanded St Neots after Love’s Farm and Wintringham Park have been developed.
The area to the west of the Stukeleys would also be protected, and there would be presumptions against development in a number of other green corridors as HDC seeks to reopen public access to areas that have been effectively ‘no-go’ since the wartime airfields were created and then retained during the Cold War.
Planners are expecting between 1,000 and 2,000 responses from the public to the consultation, and promise every one will be taken seriously.
In the meantime, they will be re-running the economic computer model to include data analysis from last year’s census – which showed Huntingdonshire’s population growing by 8.5 per cent since 2011 – and the impact of the enterprise zone at Alconbury on job creation. The results are likely to increase the number of new homes the district will need by 2036 – and possibly sooner.
“Come what may, there’s going to be a lot of development across the whole county,” said planning policy manager Paul Bland. “If growth happens, it’s going to be in Cambridgeshire.
“Once the economy picks up, Cambridgeshire is going to be the place, especially Cambridge, South Cambs and Huntingdonshire, where we already have quite a diverse economy with the Cambridge factor.
“Even through the recession it has been quite a buoyant part of the country.”
INFORMATION: The plan documents are on HDC’s website, www.huntingdonshire.gov.uk, and there will be exhibitions in Ramey on October 1, at the council’s Huntingdon headquarters on October 3, in St Neots on October 8, Sawtry on October 11, Houghton on October 17 and Great Stukeley on October 24. The local plan is expected to be finalised after a public examination in 2014.