Plans for a new business park which could generate up to 2,500 new jobs have been approved, in principle, by Huntingdonshire District Council.

Cambridge University's St John's College has applied to create more than 76,000 sq m of floorspace for offices, industrial units, storage and distribution on farmland off Ermine Street, Great Stukeley.

An outline application for the 82-acre plot, next to Ermine Business Park, was given the go ahead by HDC's Development Management Panel on Monday (September 15).

While the majority of organisations consulted were in favour, The Stukeleys Parish Council strongly recommended rejecting the plans.

Its grounds for refusal included the loss of good quality agricultural land, the emergence of Alconbury Weald plans making building on farmland unnecessary, and a number of traffic concerns, including the impact of more vehicles using Ermine Street and congestion at peak times.

Four households in Green End were also opposed, raising concerns such as the increase in traffic, and damage to the character of Great Stukeley, particularly in light of plans for nearby Alconbury Weald, which include thousands of new homes and employment space.

But HDC development management officer Sheila Lindsay, in her report for the panel, argued that the proposal would “secure new employment land” and “reduce commuting out of the district”.

While admitting “the character and appearance of the site and the wider area will be significantly altered”, she said it maintained “adequate separation” between Huntingdon and Great Stukeley.

She also acknowledged that an archaeology asset - evidence of an Iron Age settlement has been found on the site - would be “destroyed” but that would be mitigated by recording the assets following an excavation.

St John's College has agreed to make a number of improvements to junctions on the A141, as well as to links for pedestrians and cyclists, and will phase the development so only 60 per cent is complete before the A14 upgrade from Huntingdon to Cambridge is implemented.

It will also provide £64,000 towards peak time bus services, £85,000 to traffic calming measures through The Stukeleys, and £75,000 to “area wide travel planning” in north Huntingdon.