THE new town of Northstowe should be 25 per cent bigger than South Cambridgeshire District Council wanted, Government inspectors have decided. The inspectors propose that Northstowe has a target of providing 10,000 homes to maximise development potential. But they have agreed with the council that the new settlement should not extend northwards beyond the disused railway line on which work begins this week to turn it into a guided busway. The inspectors also threw out SCDC's proposal for a 200-metre green buffer zone between the new town and the existing villages of Longstanton and Oakington. SCDC sees meaningful green separation as a key part of the development, to ensure that Northstowe's impact on these villages is minimised, the council said. The inspectors have also rejected SCDC's firm requirement for country parks to serve Northstowe. They have said that this will be subject to negotiation with developers, based on factors such as provision in the area accessible to future Northstowe residents and economic viability. The settlement will be close to Fen Drayton Lakes, a wildlife and ramblers' haven created from nine exhausted gravel workings. The final binding Northstowe Area Action Plan is due by the end of March. Cllr Dr David Bard, planning and economic development portfolio holder and until recently council leader, said: "It is disappointing that the inspectors have not accepted SCDC's arguments about the minimum extent of green separation and provision of country parks".