“Wrong time, wrong place” for 700 home-plan at Godmanchester

PLANS for a 700-home development at Godmanchester which protesters fear will increase traffic in and around the A14 have been condemned as the “wrong place, wrong time.”

At a two-day exhibition for the 106-acre site at Bearscroft Farm, representatives from developers The Fairfield Partnership showed how new public transport links would be created to ferry residents to and from Huntingdon and St Ives, and minimise the impact on the A14.

Among the proposed routes is a bus link through Kisby Avenue, currently a cul-de-sac, and a lower speed limit is proposed for the A1198.

As well as receiving information on bus, cycling and walking route, each household will develop a personal travel plan with the help of an on-site travel co-ordinator.

But concerns were expressed that there would still be a negative impact on local roads. And there were objections to a 600 metre square supermarket on the site.

Godmanchester Town Councillor Nigel Pauley said: “It is dire for Kisby Avenue. Those estate roads can’t cope with current bus flow let alone turning them into a main route.

“Elderly people in other parts of the town who rely on the bus will be bypassed by this new route. It is all stacked in favour of new development not existing residents.

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“These plans might be fine once the A14 is sorted but at present the town can’t cope. A few buses won’t ease congestion and a supermarket as big as Morrisons or Sainsbury’s will add to congestion.

“My message to Fairfield is let us get the infrastructure in place then come back and we will talk. I feel they are rushing this through to stop it being trumped by Alconbury.”

Questions were raised over a one form entry primary school on the site. Estimates are the new school would accommodate less than half of the potential intake.

Huntingdonshire District Councillor Colin Hyams said: “If there are 700 new homes, that means 500 children possibly. A seven-year intake would provide 210 places. The majority would therefore have to go to Huntingdon.

“The economy of Godmanchester is in Huntingdon - parking, the banks, shopping - it is all done in Huntingdon over a 400 year old bridge.

“I cannot see any benefit in this plan. It is the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The Core Strategy Development Plan Document, adopted by HDC in 2009, identifies Bearscroft Farm as suitable for mixed use development, as long as there is “nil detriment” to the A14.

As part of the plans 40 per cent of the homes will be affordable. Construction could begin in 2013 and will be completed over an eight year period.

An outline planning application is expected to be submitted to HDC later this year.

Speaking after the exhibition a Fairfield spokesman said: “Many of those who came along were pleased to see that the plans are for a sustainable development.

“Traffic and transport is an issue we will continue to address as the proposals evolve. The package of measures included with the plans will need to demonstrate they meet the requirement for ‘nil detriment or minimal impact’ on the A14. We and the Highways Agency are confident that with the right measures, this can be achieved.”

INFORMATION: Comments can be sent to Bearscroft Consultation, c/o Camargue, 7 Bayley Street, London, WC1B 3HB or e-mail contact@bearscroftconsultation.co.uk.

To sign a petition against the plans go to http://applications.huntsdc.gov.uk/moderngov/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=22