College given backing for Hinchingbrooke move

THE Government will decide whether or not Huntingdonshire Regional College can leave its home of 30 years in Oxmoor for a new site at Hinchingbrooke. A move to prevent the relocation – because of the impact on an already-deprived area and for fear that st

THE Government will decide whether or not Huntingdonshire Regional College can leave its home of 30 years in Oxmoor for a new site at Hinchingbrooke.

A move to prevent the relocation - because of the impact on an already-deprived area and for fear that students would clash with pupils at Hinchingbrooke School - failed at Huntingdonshire District Council last week.

The multi-million pound plan must be decided by civil servants because it is a material departure from the 1995 Huntingdonshire Local Plans, even though it is consistent with every relevant planning policy adopted since then, councillors were told.

They heard impassioned pleas from residents of Oxmoor and Hinchingbrooke Park who, for different reasons, urged them not to back the move to part of what is now Cambridgeshire Police's sports ground.

Chris Osborne, who has lived in Oxmoor for 37 years and whose petition had attracted 180 signatures, said the move would send a "very negative message" to residents of Oxmoor.

"One of the ways out of deprivation is educational qualifications," he told the council. "Millions have been spent on Oxmoor, but moving the college away is not regeneration but degeneration."

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Urging rebuilding on the present site, he added that replacing the college with more housing would be overdevelopment in California Road.

Engineer Maurice Dixon, who lives at Hinchingbrooke Park, said the biggest problem would be the extra traffic of college staff and pupils that would be added to vehicles of residents, rail commuters and people visiting or working at the forensic science laboratory, the hospital and the schools.

"It's already a nightmare in the evenings and the mornings," he said, "and there will be increased risk to pedestrians and cyclists. If you take the A14 flyover down, it will become a rat-run."

He said HDC plan for Huntingdon West would cram in more housing. "There's insufficient parking, and the site is not sustainable."

Residents also fear that college students will roam around the hospital, school and housing estate.

Mr Dixon complained that consultation on the future plan for the area had been a sham because HDC's development control panel had taken a decision that it was minded to support the plan before the consultation period had expired.

There would be a clash of two cultures, he predicted, if the plan went ahead. "There is potential for aggravation between the two sets of students. We don't want gang warfare between the more academic culture and the vocational training culture.

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