THE population of St Neots is set to boom after plans were lodged for TWO major developments.

Huntingdonshire District Council last week received thousands of pages of planning documents supporting an application for 2,800 homes on the triangle of land bordered by the A428, Cambridge Road and the railway line, to be known as Wintringham Park.

A further outline application is expected next month from developer Gallagher for 1,200 properties at Love's Farm.

The two developments, expected to take 15 years to complete, could add 10,000 people to St Neots' 27,000-plus population... an increase of more than one-third.

The Wintringham Park application - on behalf of landowners Oxford University, the Nuffield Trust and the Diocese of Ely, as well as two developers (Connolly and Barratt David Wilson) - envisages employment space for up to 2,700 people, as well as shops and community and social facilities.

The Love's Farm expansion will also generate additional jobs and community facilities, in line with HDC's insistence that large new developments should be 'sustainable', meaning many of the new residents can live, work and play locally and children can attend neighbourhood schools.

The Wintringham Park developers' agent, Bidwells, believes the proposal could get outline consent in time for the first detailed application to be submitted towards the end of 2013, and construction work could start between the middle and end of next year.

Partner Stacey Rawlings said the development is expected to generate 1,600 additional journeys a day in the morning peak and 1,500 each weekday evening in St Neots.

She said improvements would be needed to the A428 between Caxton Gibbet and the power station at Little Barford, but not the dualling of the road to the Black Cat junction at Wyboston, which local councillors have been calling for.

The developers also expect to open up cycle and pedestrian links with the rest of St Neots beneath the East Coast main line railway.

Two new primary schools will also be provided and a third is expected to be included in expansion plans for Love's Farm.

Cambridgeshire County Council has said it prefers secondary provision to be concentrated at Longsands and Ernulf Academies than to have the developers fund or build a third secondary school for the town.

HDC's planning policy manager, Paul Bland, said the introduction of the 'community infrastructure levy' should ensure developer contributions to infrastructure projects were not allowed to slip, though some local infrastructure, such as affordable housing and the primary schools, would still be delivered through a Section 106 planning gain agreement.

Planners were verifying whether the application and all the thousands of pages of supporting documents were consistent with the council's 'design framework' for the area, he said.

St Neots Mayor Barry Chapman, gave the proposal a cautious welcome.

He said: "What we could not accept is having a lot of homes built, but eight to 10 years without the infrastructure to support them. I would prefer at least some, such as play areas, which are comparatively inexpensive, to be put in up front."

His principal concerns related to the A428's capacity to absorb the extra journeys, even after the proposed improvements.