Northstowe and other housing developments near A14 ‘bonkers’

AS plans are at last about to be unveiled for a 10,000-home eco-town between Huntingdon and Cambridge, business leaders last night said further housing development in the A144 corridor were “bonkers”.

The joint promoters of Northstowe, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and developer Gallagher, will be asking members of the public for their views tomorrow (Thursday) on a first phase of new homes and a revised ‘master plan’ of the new community, based on the disused airfield at Oakington.

But John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, condemned plans for the new town, as well as proposed developments at Godmanchester and Huntingdon, without the infrastructure needed to make them viable.

“We know we desperately need more housing, but for the last decade we have been running a growth agenda without the necessary investment in infrastructure, especially in our road network,” he said last night (Tuesday).

“This isn’t a new problem: the lack of investment has been apparent for the last 10 years. According to a study by Cambridgeshire Horizons, there has been a �5billion deficit in infrastructure investment in the Cambridge sub-region.

“As a result, the conditions simply aren’t right for additional housing projects to go ahead today,” he added.

“By forging ahead with the schemes regardless, those responsible are consciously increasing the misery for thousands of people and increased cost for business.

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“Right now there are no plans to alleviate the extensive pressure on the A14 – just a blank piece of paper. Even the taskforce that was set up to address the issue has still not started, nor has funding been approved for the study that was promised at the beginning of this year.

“Whatever study is completed, common sense tells you that any new houses built along the corridor in the immediate future and before the essential upgrading of the A14 will generate more traffic on a road that can’t cope now with volume in relation to its capacity.

“Last week was just a sign of things to come - we are heading towards gridlock.”

But the Northstowe show will in Longstanton and Oakington from tomorrow to Saturday to show how the new town could accommodate up to 10,000 new homes, as well as new schools, employment areas, town centre and other community services.

The promoters have been exploring with local authority partners ways in which early phases of the project could be brought forward, Cambridgeshire County Council said on Monday.

Terry Fuller, executive director for the HCA in the east and south-east, said: “I am really pleased that we have been able to progress plans for Northstowe in such challenging times. Making the best use of public sector land is high on our agenda, and this proposed development will do just that, making a huge contribution to the local economy and provide housing for a variety of people from around the region.”

Gallagher director Alan Joyner added: “We are pressing ahead with Northstowe and would like as many people as possible to attend the exhibitions or look at the proposals on line.”

INFORMATION: Drop in exhibition sessions are tomorrow (Thursday) from noon until 8pm at The Pavilion, Over Road, Longstanton, on Friday between 1pm and 6pm at Oakington Sports Pavilion, Queens Way, Oakington, and on Saturday from 10am until 4pm back at The Pavilion, Longstanton.