No mistakes this time

CAMBOURNE, it seems, is the Tin Man of modern urban planning – it was designed without a heart. But that mistake will not be repeated at Northstowe, on which work is expected to start in earnest in the next 12 months, a Government Minister promised. Baron

CAMBOURNE, it seems, is the Tin Man of modern urban planning - it was designed without a heart.

But that mistake will not be repeated at Northstowe, on which work is expected to start in earnest in the next 12 months, a Government Minister promised.

Baroness Andrews, a junior Minister in the Department of Communities and Local Government, told the annual conference of Cambridgeshire Horizons: "Northstowe is a wonderful opportunity to get right some of the issues we did not get right at Cambourne."

She did not elaborate, but planners acknowledge that the three-village settlement, which will also be home to about 10,000 South Cambridgeshire households when the third village is completed, was far from perfect.


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"I think she regretted the comment as soon as she'd made it," said Councillor Nick Wright, who was in the audience. "We were a bit surprised by it."

Cllr Wright, South Cambridgeshire District Council's cabinet member for planning, added: "We made some mistakes when Bar Hill was built, and we were determined not to repeat them at Cambourne. We didn't, but we discovered another raft of things, particularly in tying the developers down.

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"There were trip points, such as the cricket pitch and the cemetery, that should have been provided when so many houses were completed. I think they were too generous, but the developers didn't comply with them anyway. We had to threaten stop-orders on further building to force them into it. We have had to push them all the time"

But Cllr Wright is convinced that Cambourne, where the council built its own headquarters a few years ago, is now back on track. It has The Hub community centre, two full primary schools and a third planned, a pub, a couple of restaurants, leisure facilities and will soon have its sports centre.

"The residents seem happy now. Their only concern is about the density of future housing, and we won a planning appeal recently over that," he said. "That's why the Minister's comment was slightly wounding and a bit unfair. When Cambourne was planned, the word 'sustainability' did not exist. New ideas come forward.

"We're quite proud of Cambourne actually, but it was planned as three villages. Northstowe is planned as a new market town.

"We are planning for 20 years ahead now.

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