DEVELOPERS who have to prove nil detriment to the A14 before they can start building 700 homes in Godmanchester say they ‘can’t force people out of their cars’, as the detailed Bearscroft Farm masterplan is unveiled.

But council planners are expected to have very different ideas about the best use for the site, when they go out to public consultation, probably in April.

The A14 remains a stumbling block for the Fairfield Partnership, with the Highways Agency saying the plans must not add to congestion on the already busy road.

Fairfield has not yet identified the bus routes it believes will avoid any increase in A14 traffic but says jobs created in the three foodstores, an industrial site, a school and other shops will keep residents within the development.

A spokesman said: "You can't force people out of their cars but you can give people viable options that are attractive. If the A14 is busy or blocked, people may not want to drive on it so the guided bus and other bus links are quite appealing.

"We're looking to set the bus network up soon so it will be established before the homes are all built, so from day one there will be that option and, even if Bearscroft residents stay with their cars, there's a chance that the people in Godmanchester will use the buses instead, which will mean there is nil detriment overall.

"Highways will continually monitor the traffic flow on the A14 and if they find we are adding to traffic they will block future stages of development which we don't want."

The latest proposals for the 106-acre site, which were on show last week, included a new location for a new primary school - a more central location has been found for the school since the first plans went public in September. Affordable homes now make up more than 40 per cent (300 homes) of the estate and fewer flats are being planned. Playing fields have also been moved next to the Godmanchester Rovers football pitch.

Jacqueline Barringer, 42, was one of more than 150 people who visited the exhibition. She said: "The A14 is a nightmare, when you get a problem there it affects Godmanchester. I have no problem with the number of homes but we don't now have the infrastructure to cope, let alone with 2,000 more cars."

Meanwhile, planners at Huntingdonshire District Council, who say a planning application could be lodged as early as February, are putting the final touches to a draft urban design framework for the site, which will be the subject of six weeks' formal public consultation and which, once approved, would become the framework against which the planning application would be judged.

They will want to be able to deal safely with traffic on the A1198 and may take a different views about the extent of retail and leisure provision within the plans. They will also want to ensure any new development is properly integrated with the rest of the town.

INFORMATION: Details of the developers' masterplan can be found at www.bearscroftconsultation.co.uk