Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The Alconbury Weald plans might be the biggest single application ever dealt with by Huntingdonshire District Council but planners say house extensions have caused more controversy.
Urban&Civic wants to build up to 5,000 homes, three primary schools, a secondary school and 290,000 square metres of employment space, creating 8,000 jobs, on what was once Alconbury Airfield, north west of Huntingdon.
On Monday, HDC’s development management panel will make a decision on whether to agree the principle of development, which will also have to be rubber-stamped by full council. If approved, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will still have to sign off the outline application, due to its size.
Full details will be considered at a later date as the various phases come forward, the first of which will be 900 homes.
Plans for Alconbury Weald also include a health centre, dentist, library, a place of worship, sports clubhouse and changing rooms, a fitness centre, community buildings and a heritage archive.
The plans also allow for a new railway station, the development of a Further Education and sports campus and 280 hectares of open space.
The application is so vast that HDC employed Paul Mumford as a special projects officer to deal with it.
Despite its scale, other than parish councils which represent a significant proportion of those living in the area, just 21 people commented on the plans.
Steve Ingram, HDC’s assistant director for environment, growth and planning, said: “It’s not someone’s house extension, although I have seen them with more objections.”
Understandably a common concern was traffic, he said, and the proposals included a new road network through the site, coming out on the A141 and Ermine Street, the latter of which would see additional traffic calming through The Stukeleys.
“I understand people’s concerns, but a bit of congestion on the roads is a sign of economic prosperity.
“The challenge for the Highways Agency and county [Cambridgeshire County Council] is to try and manage traffic as best they can.”
HDC officers have been negotiating planning agreements which are likely to see developer contributions top £100million, £40m of which will go towards education costs.
While there will be shops, the largest of which will be the size of Waitrose in Huntingdon, Mr Ingram said great care had been taken to limit the amount of retail.
“We are spending our own money trying to regenerate Huntingdon,” he said.
“The last thing we wanted was something that would kill it.”
Councillors have been recommended to approve the plans when they meet on Monday.