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Northstowe to get £12m of funding from South Cambridgeshire District Council for sport and community facilities

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More than £12million will be invested by South Cambridgeshire District Council to plug the funding shortfall for community facilities in Northstowe.

The new facilities were due to be funded through money provided by developers, but this is no longer enough to cover the full costs.

Northstowe under development. Picture: Keith Heppell
Northstowe under development. Picture: Keith Heppell

A report presented to the district council’s scrutiny and overview committee on Thursday, June 23 said the council had a requirement to deliver the facilities.

Work on the Enterprise Zone is also proposed to be paused – initially for a year – in order to prioritise the community buildings.

Council leader Cllr Bridget Smith, (Lib Dem, Gamlingay) said the council had to be careful as it had limited resources. She said “considerable work” has gone into the Enterprise Zone, but said it was at a good point to pause and focus on community projects.

Once completed, Northstowe will have around 10,000 homes and have a population of around 25,000.

The new facilities planned include a sports pavilion and community centre in phase one of the development, and a civic hub and additional sports pavilion in phase two.

The authority was recommended by officers to increase the capital programme allocation for the project to £34.6m, of which £12.85m is to come from council capital receipts and £21.75m from existing Section 106 agreements.

The report said: “The Section 106 agreements for phase one and phase two allowed the developer, subject to specific payments, to pass the responsibility for delivery of four community buildings to the district council, and this work is now being led by the new build team within the housing service. There are funding arrangements within the Section 106 agreements that were intended to cover the construction costs of these facilities, along with a detailed specification for each one.

“However, it is clear that the Section 106 funding is inadequate to cover the full costs of construction.”

Since the agreements were signed, the costs have risen “exponentially” due to “a number of national and global factors”, such as Brexit, Covid-19, inflation and the fuel crisis, exacerbated by Russian sanctions.

Cllr Aiden Van de Weyer (Lib Dem, Barrington) thought the proposal was “very exciting” and was “extremely happy” the council would deliver the projects, but recognised this had come about due to the funding shortfall.

He highlighted that on other large developments the council needed to learn from what has happened to ensure it did not have to make “future difficult decisions down the line”, adding that it may not be possible for the council to step in as it can in

this instance.

The funding for the projects will still need to officially be approved by the district council’s cabinet.

The Liberal Democrat-run council was recently urged to do more by Anthony Browne, South Cambridgeshire’s Tory MP, who complained Northstowe residents “couldn’t even buy a pint of milk” in the new town.

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