High-speed dual-carriageway could scupper Bearscroft homes plan

EVEN though the Government could soon decide to drive a 70mph dual-carriageway through the site, the public is being asked for its views on the future of the Bearscroft Farm area of Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire’s fourth largest town.

The site, adjacent to the A1198 to the south of the Cardinal Distribution Park that plays host to a variety of transport undertakings, is earmarked for housing in Huntingdonshire District Council’s core planning strategy.

To the fury of many local people developer the Fairfield Partnership has applied for planning consent to put 750 homes, a school and a supermarket on the site, potentially adding well over 25 per cent to the town’s 6,100 population.

The district council, where planners think more sympathetic use could be made of the development, has just launched a public consultation on an ‘urban design framework’ (UDF) for the farmland.

Planners say the development could deliver strategic green space, a small local shop, development land and 650-700 new homes by 2026. But they would like to see safer alternative road layouts to the developers’ proposal to leave the 60mph A1198 on its current alignment.

Following consultation, which includes a variety of thoughts on road layouts, housing and the siting of a shop, the school and leisure facilities, planners hope the UDF will gain cabinet approval next month, well in advance of – and underlying consideration of – the planning application’s being determined later in the year.

For the time being the development cannot go ahead without agreement from the Highways Agency, which has been demanding ‘nil detriment’ to the A14 until it is improved.

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The developers say that can be achieved by additional public transport, a notion that most local people have found laughable.

But two weeks ago the Highways Agency threw a new spanner into the development works by proposing using the A1198 between Godmanchester and Caxton to carry traffic from a new southern bypass of Huntingdon as one of the alternatives for relieving congestion on the A14.

That would inevitably mean dualling the A1198 in both directions, planners say, if the scheme were not to cause gridlock on the detrunked single-carriageway Roman road.

The Government has signalled a decision on the future of the A14 in comparatively short order, so we should know the answer to that question by the end of the summer.

Developers the Fairfield Partnership said: “We do not rely on improvements to the A14 in order to bring forward our development at Godmanchester. Instead we are required to demonstrate a minimal impact to the trunk road.

“We have said this all along and, through close work and consultation with the Highways Agency and Cambridgeshire County Council, they agree that the package of measures we are proposing, such as new bus services and ramp metering at the A1198/A14 junction, will satisfactorily mitigate the impacts of our development on the A14.”

INFORMATION: A public exhibition of the HDC plans will be held in the Queen Elizabeth School hall, Godmanchester, next Monday, from 7pm until 10pm.