Development west of St Ives would “kill town”

Houghton & Wyton Sign

Houghton & Wyton Sign - Credit: Archant

DEVELOPMENT west of St Ives could kill the town and house building should be re-focused on its northern fringes, it has been argued.

More than 120 acres south of the A1123 Houghton Road has been earmarked for 500 homes and a shop by Huntingdonshire District Council in its draft Local Plan, outlining what should be built where until 2036.

But a Houghton resident has warned that such a development would lead to daily traffic gridlock and the deterioration of the town centre.

Alastair Price, who has lived on Houghton Hill for 16 years, said if the homes were aimed at young families, parents walking their children to school would have to cross the A1123, causing even lengthier delays for drivers waiting at traffic lights.

“Where’s the worst place to create severe congestion? It’s the entrance to town,” he said. “They’ve already blocked the other side with the guided bus crossing by underestimating traffic congestion.

“Stop the other main road in and there’s a risk the town dies.”

Mr Price, whose home overlooks the A1123, said the existing rush-hour tailbacks from Ramsey Road would extend to two-and-a-half miles if the St Ives West housing was approved, adding to air pollution and C02 emissions.

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A Cambridgeshire County Council traffic assessment, compiled for a planning application for Houghton Grange, found that three A1123 junctions would be “beyond their capacity” by 2017.

Buses would also be stuck and people would resort to rat-running through villages, warned Mr Price.

The impact of the congestion, he concluded, would be businesses and commuters leaving the area, resulting in “a downward deterioration” in the town centre with shops closing.

Instead, Mr Price suggested building north of St Ives, allowing children to get to school without crossing the A1123.

He said there were already facilities such as shops, a pharmacy and a supermarket at the Rainbow Centre and homes would be closer to Somersham Road Retail Park and other sources of employment.

HDC leader Cllr Jason Ablewhite, who lives in St Ives, said the principle of developing St Ives West had already been established.

Including land north of Slepe Meadow into the Local Plan, he added, risked more homes being built, not less.

On concerns about traffic, he said HDC would consult with the county council and the Highways Agency.

“The biggest issue we face across the district is infrastructure deficit. But that in itself does not stop development.

“Wherever you go in rush-hour it’s heavy on traffic but the bulk of the day you can drive through St Ives quite easily.”

He said more people needed to be encouraged to leave their car at home and walk or take public transport.

INFORMATION: HDC planning officers are due to be at Wyton-on-the-Hill Primary School from 3.30-8pm on Wednesday, June 19, for people to find out more about the draft Local Plan. A full version of the proposed planning blueprint is available online via the website