Cambridgeshire council leaders pledge to deliver best deal for new town of Northstowe
Council leaders have pledged to deliver the best deal for the new town of Northstowe by unlocking millions of pounds of investment for vital community facilities.
Councillors from Cambridgeshire County and South Cambridge District Councils (SCDC) on the Northstowe joint development control committee approved the draft terms of a developer agreement at a public meeting on January 30 that could see tens of millions of pounds secured to help get the new town off the ground.
Councillors also reiterated that a bid to government for funding will help to make sure the new town is of the highest quality and meets the needs of residents, whilst separate negotiations to secure up to £40 million from the developers are on-going.
In November the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg pledged up-front financial support to help get Northstowe started this year following calls from local council chiefs to make sure the new town happens quickly and is of the highest quality.
The guided busway, which carried 2.5 million passengers during the first 12 months alone, is already in place to help provide a high quality public transport link for residents in the first 1,500 homes but money from developers and Government will ensure that roads, schools and community facilities are also in place for the residents.
A joint county and SCDC team is continuing negotiations with developers to finalise the terms of the funding for the first phase, following which a further report will be presented to councillors.
At least 20 per cent of homes are currently planned to be affordable rented or shared ownership, but councillors are also aiming to make sure a variety of other homes are built in the first phase that are open to buy or rent for all residents who may not be able to secure mortgages at full market prices.
Councillors have said they will assess future phases against financial viability and as the economy picks up a higher percentage of affordable housing could be achieved.
Outline planning permission for Gallagher’s first phase of the new town was agreed by councillors in October.
Plans include a primary school, sports hub, areas of open space, a local centre, shops, employment opportunities and a site for a household recycling centre as well as 1,500 homes.
The first phase will also contribute funding toward a secondary school for pupils living in Longstanton and Northstowe which will be built during phase one of the new town.
Once the level of developer contributions is agreed further detailed planning applications are expected to be submitted by developers.
Cllr Tim Wotherspoon, SCDC cabinet member for Northstowe, said: “There is a pressing need for more homes to provide future generations with a place to live, but during these negotiations we also need to make sure quality remains the top priority for Northstowe.
“We need to be realistic and make sure the first phase of the town remains viable so it can get off the ground but we also need to make sure that right facilities are provided from an early stage and that is why extra government funding is being sought.”
Cllr Ian Bates, Cambridgeshire County Council cabinet member for growth and infrastructure, said: “This is a live negotiation between the local authorities and the promoters, and as ever we may have to be flexible in order to get to the right deal that balances commercial viability, the need to ensure quality, and the importance of moving forward the largest single settlement in our growth strategy.
“Securing the extra government funding will mean we can get going this year to take the first steps in delivering an excellent new community that will help tackle the housing shortage and support future economic growth and prosperity.”
For all the latest news see tomorrow’s (Thursday, February 21) Echo.
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