Council chiefs have welcomed renewed support from central Government after the Housing Minister reaffirmed his commitment to early delivery of the proposed new town of Northstowe.
In a letter to South Cambridgeshire District Council’s (SCDC) leader, Cllr Ray Manning, newly appointed Housing Minster, Mark Prisk MP, confirmed he was “committed to work in partnership with local authorities and scheme promoters to accelerate delivery” as Northstowe was a “high priority” for the Government.
Following a recent meeting with Mr Prisk, he also backed the ambitions of councillors from both South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridgeshire County Councils to deliver a high quality new town demonstrating exemplar standards.
In the letter he said: “We are committed to working with you and other partners as a matter of urgency to develop a package of support that will help to accelerate delivery and remove barriers to the establishment of a high quality new town demonstrating exemplar standards.”
He recognised the significant local funding that has already taken place to date from all partners – including a potential major capital investment of £25 million that has been agreed by Cambridgeshire County Council.
Mr Prisk also reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to improving the A14 and delivery of the Cambridge Science Park Station and said: “I can also confirm that the Government fully recognises the important role that both the proposed A14 upgrade and the creation of a new Cambridge Science Park Station will play in the development of Northstowe.
“We remain committed to the timely delivery of these schemes.”
Plans suggested for the first phase of Northstowe by joint promoters – Gallagher and the Homes and Communities Agency – include 1,500 homes, a primary school, sports hub, areas of open space, a local centre, shops, employment opportunities and a site for a household recycling centre.
The outline planning application will be presented to councillors on Wednesday (24 October).
Negotiations with developers on the first phase application now mean plans also include a cycleway linking Northstowe and Bar Hill.
A network of cycleways and footpaths are also planned to give easy access for Northstowe residents to The Busway and improvements to the Bar Hill junction of the A14 would also be funded by the first phase of the new town.
The plans for the Bar Hill junction follow a Government announcement last week committing £7.7 million to widen the A14 between Girton and Histon in 2014 as a short term measure to alleviate congestion and improve safety, in advance of the major upgrade to the road – which Government Ministers announced proposals for earlier this year.
The report being presented to committee also states that financial contributions towards a bypass at Willingham will be sought from future phases of Northstowe if necessary.
Cllr Tim Wotherspoon, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for Northstowe, said: “We have always been clear that we are aiming to deliver a high quality new town at Northstowe and the Government’s renewed support shows how important South Cambridgeshire is to helping to pull the country out of recession.
“We know that there is a great need for new homes here, but we need to make sure the right facilities and infrastructure is in place as early as possible so the new town is a real success we can look back on with pride.
“The A14 and Cambridge Science Park Station are both very important for future phases of Northstowe and we look forward to working with the Government and other partners on these issues.”
Cllr Ian Bates, Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet member for growth and planning, said: “I am delighted that the Government has confirmed its support for Northstowe and is listening to our discussions with them on what is necessary to build a true community that meets the needs and aspirations of current and future residents.
“The Guided Busway is already in place ready to serve the new town, and the recent announcements on the A14 now address one of the other big transport issues.
“The County Council is pleased to play its part and has already said we are willing to invest £25 million to help make the new town a success and the government’s commitment is great news.
“We will continue our work with partners and the Government to ensure that the plans deliver a place where people will want to live, work, visit, and where business can prosper.”
For all the latest news see Thursday’s (November 1) Echo.