WITH at least 500,000 new homes coming to the east of England by 2021, the Highways Agency is being pressed to finish the dualling of the A428 near St Neots and to improve the A1, including a bypass for Buckden. The call comes from Councillor Ian Bates, l
WITH at least 500,000 new homes coming to the east of England by 2021, the Highways Agency is being pressed to finish the dualling of the A428 near St Neots and to improve the A1, including a bypass for Buckden.
The call comes from Councillor Ian Bates, leader of Huntingdonshire District Council and a member of Cambridgeshire County Council, in response to an announcement by the Government that the east should take at least 30,000 more homes than the 478,000 originally planned.
Although Cambridgeshire's share of the increase is earmarked for Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and Fenland, the words "at least" have rung alarm bells for Cllr Bates.
He fears they may encourage developers to believe that they
can build significantly more than
the 11,200 planned for Huntingdonshire.
Even if those fears do not materialise, with the homes already planned for Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, the need to improve transport and health infrastructure is vital, he told The Hunts Post.
When the current dualling work between Caxton and Hardwick is completed shortly, the five or six miles of the A428 between Caxton and the Black Cat roundabout on the A1 will be the only single carriageway stretch between Cambridge and the west side of Bedford.
Cllr Bates also wants relief for villagers in Buckden, preferably by a wider A1 between Black Cat and the four-lane A1(M) at Alconbury set to the west of the village to join with the improved A14.
The Highways Agency said neither scheme was in the approved programmes for a start before 2015/16, but exploratory work had been going on.
"If we look at the number of new houses in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, the single carriageway stretch of the A428 stands out like a sore thumb. It should be in the plans for dualling," Cllr Bates said.
"These two are strategic routes. They are becoming strategic considerations for us at HDC. It's all very well giving us all the houses, but that needs to be backed up by public investment in infrastructure. In health, the numbers don't seem to be joined up with the ones they are using at the strategic health authority."
Cllr Bates believes brownfield sites, particularly redundant military bases, such as RAF Alconbury and RAF Brampton, will be attractive targets for developers.
"When the Government starts to use words like 'minimum', other plans could come forward. The use of that word frightens me a lot. It seems to push open the door for other possibilities, which may not be the right ones.
"It could be a Pandora's Box that you can't get the lid back on. What's to stop anybody putting 2,000 or even 5,000 homes on the edge of St Ives?