Plans set out for large-scale redevelopment of Huntingdon

PLANS for hi-tech industrial use of land at the edge of Hinchingbrooke Country Park have been abandoned. Last year Huntingdonshire District Council planners identified Thrapston Road, Brampton, as a possible site for concept-to-production development of p

PLANS for hi-tech industrial use of land at the edge of Hinchingbrooke Country Park have been abandoned.

Last year Huntingdonshire District Council planners identified Thrapston Road, Brampton, as a possible site for concept-to-production development of products designed at Cambridge Science Park.

But resistance from residents was so strong the HDC last week revealed that it had ditched the plan.

But it is moving to the next stage of the project of which it was part - large-scale redevelopment of the area to the west of Huntingdon town centre, including Hinchingbrooke, over the next 20 years.


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Key to the plan is delivery of a new link road between George Street/Brampton Road and Ermine Street, which should reduce ring road traffic by half, making it possible to expand the town centre shopping area to the west of the ring road.

The council has just started a non-statutory consultation with householders in the area and at Hinchingbrooke Park, setting out three possible options for the areas in which 700 homes might be built, employment and retail opportunities provided, and where car parking and public open spaces should be.

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Also key to the consultation are the five or more significant landowners, including Ruston Engineering and the Royal & Sun Alliance insurance company, both of which own large tracts of the area.

The area involved includes the town centre to the west of the ring road as far north as the Iron Bridge, land west of the railway that could become more accessible when the A14 viaduct is taken down by 2015, and the Hinchingbrooke area south-west of Views Common, including the hospital and the police playing field where Huntingdon Regional College has applied for planning consent for its new campus.

The town is earmarked for significant growth over the next 20 years, including the new town centre homes and the proposed 1,250-home Northbridge development near Spittals, and the employment opportunities needed to make the town environmentally sustainable without out-commuting.

All three options being put to the public envisage that re-development of the land on the town side of the railway will be predominantly homes and shops, with additional car parking.

One envisages the part of Views Common that will be severed from the rest after the viaduct comes down and a new road network is built being used for housing and employment; the other two that half or all of it will remain as public open space.

If any of it is built on, open space will be created elsewhere in the area to compensate for the loss at Views Common.

HDC was recently awarded £700,000 for design work on the new link road, which it hopes will eventually be paid for by developers.

Richard Probyn, HDC's planning policy manager, said the vision for the town "said it was a unique opportunity close to the town centre that enabled the centre to expand beyond the concrete bracelet of the ring road".

Much of the land involved was previously developed and would enable the planners to get somewhere close to achieving 30 per cent of development on brownfield sites. The Government's target of 60 per cent was not achievable in rural areas such as Huntingdonshire, Mr Probyn added.

He stressed that the options did not assume the HRC proposal would get the go-ahead at the development control panel's meeting on May 19 or that, even if it was approved, the college would proceed with it.

Having evaluated public comments after the end of the consultation on June 5, planners will produce a preferred option in the autumn before formal consultation in November. It is likely to be summer 2009 before the area action plan is submitted for Government approval.

Steve Ingram, head of planning services, stressed that none of the plans for the new road or re-development would involve demolishing any homes.

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