Plan for future of Godmanchester takes step towards referendum vote

A neighbourhood plan has been developed for Godmanchester.

A neighbourhood plan has been developed for Godmanchester. - Credit: Archant

Godmanchester residents are set to go to the polls in December to decide if they want a neighbourhood plan which would help guide future development in the town.

The plan, which has been two and a half years in the making, has to win the backing of Huntingdonshire District Council before the special vote can take place.

It has already been recommended to go on to the referendum stage by Jill Kingaby, the inspector who carried out an official review of the plan.

She said in her report: “I have made recommendations to modify a number of policies and text to ensure the plan meets the basic conditions and other legal requirements.

“I recommend that the plan, once modified, proceeds to referendum.”

She praised the town council and the community for its hard work in preparing the plan but said some residents may be disappointed by her modifications, which were necessary.

“I hope they will appreciate that I am fully supportive of their aims for a compact town which maintains its distinctive and historic character set in the countryside and will thrive in the future for the benefit of its residents,” Ms Kingaby said.

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The plan, the second in Huntingdonshire after St Neots, will be discussed by the district’s overview and scrutiny panel this week (October 5) before going on to the cabinet next week.

If the plan, which covers a range of key issues for the development of the town, is approved by the district, the poll is likely to be held early in December. A vote in favour would mean that the result would almost certainly be rubber-stamped by the district council and be in place by the end of the year.

In addition to having more of a say on development, the plan would also mean that Godmanchester would see its share of the community infrastructure levy – a charge on building - go up from 15 per cent to 25 per cent, money which could be used on local projects.

Councillor Sarah Conboy, mayor of Godmanchester and a district councillor, welcomed the plan progressing.

“We are delighted it has reached this stage and we want to encourage everyone to vote, but we have still got to get it through the referendum,” she said.

The plan, which has had input from the town council and residents, covers issues including preserving the semi-rural feel within the town, greener streets, open spaces, heritage, parking and house-building and would run to 2036.

At present Godmanchester has a population of 6,800 but development means this is expected to rise to 8,600 by 2040, an increase of 26 per cent.

The inspector’s modifications included changes to the way green spaces are preserved and in which development can take place.