PLANNERS in Huntingdonshire are seeking public backing for a strategy that includes 14,000 new homes in the district by 2026. But they accept that delivery of the 500-600 homes a year needed to meet that target will not be met over the next couple of year
PLANNERS in Huntingdonshire are seeking public backing for a strategy that includes 14,000 new homes in the district by 2026.
But they accept that delivery of the 500-600 homes a year needed to meet that target will not be met over the next couple of years because of the current slow-down in the housing market.
Most of the new homes - the target began on 2001, and several thousand of the homes are already built or planned - will be in the larger market towns, St Neots and Huntingdon. Those already being built include 1,250 at Loves Farm on the eastern edge of St Neots and a similar number at Northbridge, off Ermine Street, Huntingdon.
The plans are included in Huntingdonshire District Council's core planning strategy, which was last week submitted to Ministers and became the subject of a six-week public consultation that ends on August 15.
Planners believe they have addressed all material objections to earlier drafts, except those of "vested interests" from landowners disappointed that their land will not be developed under the strategy, said head of planning Steve Ingram.
The core strategy also outlines where employment opportunities could be sited to offer work to the expanding population, where extra shops will go, and the space that will be provided and protected for recreational purposes, particularly in the Great Ouse Valley.
Of the minimum 14,000 homes required by Government, nearly 3,000 were completed by 2006, 5,600 are already in the pipeline, and locations have been identified for the remaining 5,500.
About 2,200 of the additional 5,500 homes will be affordable, and nearly 4,000 will be built on greenfield sites. Around 1,800 of them will be in the Huntingdon area, including west of the town centre and at RAF Brampton, which Defence Estates has confirmed will close in three years' time.
At least 2,650 will be in St Neots, nearly all of them on greenfield land to the east of the town, south of Loves Farm.
At least 500 are earmarked for St Ives, 300 for Ramsey, and 250 spread between the "key service centres" of Fenstanton, Sawtry and Yaxley.
"At least 85 hectares of new land for employment will be provided before 2026 to support the creation of at least 13,000 jobs and reduce the significant level of out-commuting," the strategy document says. It identifies land west of Huntingdon town centre, at Hinchingbrooke, Brampton, Godmanchester and near the new housing in St Neots.
It envisages the expansion of Huntingdon town centre's shopping area, significant expansion of St Neots town centre shopping, and some additional retail space in St Ives and elsewhere across the district.
Green areas identified for enhancement include the Great Fen project, the Grafham Water/Brampton Wood area, and the Great Ouse Valley between St Neots and Earith. There will be action co-ordinated with other agencies to safeguard existing and potential sites of nature conservation value, including ancient woodlands and historic landscape features, create new wildlife habitats, help economic diversity and tourist development, provide public access and contribute to flood protection.
Mr Ingram said he thought the public would be largely supportive of the strategy, with the exception of the vested interests, whose views would be considered at a public inquiry, possibly next year.
The core strategy is part of a hierarchy of planning documents underpinned by national and regional policy. It will be followed by documents on development control, Huntingdon West Action Plan and gypsy and traveller sites.
INFORMATION: Copies of the document are available on the district council's website and summaries will be available in public places. Residents can comment online through HDC's interactive system at www.huntingdonshire.gov.uk or send written comments to the Development Plans Manager, Huntingdonshire District Council, Pathfinder House, St Mary's Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TN.