That is a valid question in the light of all the developments that are being planned and have been approved along the A428 corridor. It is a question that I have asked myself, one that many have asked me, to which my reply tends to be ……
I don’t know for sure, but I think the Conservative led South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) may just be doing that. All I have to go by is the evidence I’ve seen.
Cambourne West is a new village allocated in the draft Local Development Plan (LDP), for 1,250 houses on part of the site. When the Developers submitted an application for 2,350 on all of the site bounded north by the A428, east by the A1198 bypass from Caxton Gibbet to Caxton, and west/south by Cambourne itself, SCDC seemed to welcome it and approved it. I said at the time that it should have been rejected on the premise that it was an allocation in the LDP and therefore premature to bring it to the Council until after the LDP had gone through the inspection process and approved (or otherwise).
The one phrase that I tend to hear regarding planning, over and over again is that “the council is obliged to consider any application that is submitted to it”. But this is not a standard application and SCDC should have been bold in its stand. It could not – for the simple reason that the Council did not have a 5-year housing land supply as required by central Government. That was its achilles heel, one that has haunted the District since 28 March 2014 after it submitted the Draft LDP for examination and subsequently lost an appeal at Waterbeach when a planning inspector granted planning permission on the basis that SCDC did not have a 5-year land supply.
That ruling has led to the free for all submission of speculative developments all over the district in lots of villages, and many more appeals by developers working the system to the full. Many of those appeals succeeded for the very reason of the lack of 5-year housing supply.
Speculative Developments in Highfields Caldecote
Highfields has had its fair share of speculative developments, and as a result now has 272 new houses foisted upon it, in locations that are outside the development framework of the village. This represents nearly 40% increase on the size of the current village. Most of these would not have received planning approval had the SCDC administration been up to the task of leading and not landed the district in the unenviable position of the lack of 5-year housing land supply. But we are where we are now!!
Gladman Developments applied for planning for 140 houses at the top right corner of the village (above Clare Drive), went to appeal on grounds of non-determination and won the appeal.
Welbeck Land Investments applied for planning for 58 houses behind Grafton Drive, went to appeal on grounds of non-determination and won.
There were 3 more speculative applications at the top of the village that got planning permission, this time directly from the Council, on the basis of a lack of 5-year housing land supply.
CALA Homes submitted plans for 71 houses on the site rear of 18-28 Highfields Road, and this was approved by the planning committee.
Development along A428 Corridor
Bourn Airfield has been allocated in the Draft LDP to have up to 3,500 houses and associated commercial infrastructure built on it. Hardwick has also had its share of two new development allocations.
When all of the above is put together what we now have is what you see below – a ribbon of development stretching from Caxton Gibbet to Hardwick.
The areas in blue are the built up existing communities. Those hatched blue but with red outline are sites that have recently been given planning permission, with Cambourne west on the extreme left. The area east of Cambourne hatched red is Bourn Airfield.
Within Highfields Caldecote are the 3 developments mentioned above, outlined in red. It shows that the new Grafton Drive site now links directly with Bourn Airfield.
What say ye?
Cambourne East or not?
This is the legacy of the Conservative administration of South Cambridgeshire District Council. For an administration that wants to keep our villages green and the best places to live, it just does not seem to know what it means when all it can do is create this concrete jungle along a green lung into Cambridge.