25,000-home new town and villages proposed by Thakeham for South West Cambridgeshire
A property developer has announced its vision to build an enormous 25,000-home community in South West Cambridgeshire.
Thakeham says it hopes to create the UK’s first zero-carbon development by creating a new town and a series of connecting villages.
Campaigners alarmed by the enormous scale of the proposals - which would dramatically change the South Cambridgeshire landscape - have already mobilised in opposition to the shock announcement, warning it would completely swamp the area and destroy village life.
Thakeham wants to build around Barrington, Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth, Foxton, Meldreth, Orwell, Shepreth, Whaddon and Wimpole.
It says it would deliver up to 10,000 affordable homes, ensure a biodiversity net gain of at least 20 per cent and deliver new sporting, healthcare, schools and education facilities.
Rob Boughton, Thakeham CEO, said: “We’re delighted to reveal our vision to create the UK’s first truly sustainable new community. A zero-carbon place with green transport links, where school and work are readily accessible and community facilities are owned by the local residents.
“As the UK’s contribution to this week’s UN Climate Ambition Summit will show, addressing the climate emergency and protecting our environment is fast becoming the number one national priority, along with ensuring that we continue to build the homes and infrastructure which are so desperately needed. Our proposals aim to provide a global blueprint for zero-carbon sustainable placemaking.
“Thakeham are committed to working in partnership with the local community, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge City Council and other key stakeholders as our plans for South West Cambridgeshire begin to evolve.”
However, the West Sussex-based group did not submit the proposals as part of the ‘call for sites’ initiated by South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council, which are working together on the next Local Plan for Greater Cambridge. The councils are working on whittling down the sites that were put forward in that process ahead of a consultation next year.
Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, a South Cambridgeshire district councillor and Liberal Democrat candidate for the role of Combined Authority mayor, said: “Villages like Barrington, where I live, Shepreth, Melbourn, Meldreth, Whaddon, Bassingbourn, Wimpole, Orwell and Foxton will simply cease to exist in any meaningful way as they are overlaid by 25,000 homes and the necessary infrastructure that goes with them.”
Cllr Susan van de Ven, a Meldreth resident who represents the village on Cambridgeshire County Council for the Lib Dems, said: “This development company has been preparing their plans for nearly two years but did not bother to follow the rules that everyone else did by submitting their plans as part of the Greater Cambridge Local Plan call for sites.
“Why should Thakeham think that the rules don’t apply to them?
“Although the proposal claims to be sustainable and environmentally beneficial, the fact is that development on a scale such as this cannot be. In this area we have a clear strategy for building houses that has worked well for us over the years.”
Jose Hales, a Melbourn resident who represents the village on South Cambridgeshire District Council, commented, “The South Cambridgeshire development hierarchy is structured around its largest population centres at Cambourne and Northstowe, which are served by the A428, the guided busway and the planned new Cambourne Station, as well as its new schools and health services. This proposal tears that strategy up and leaves many of our communities facing destruction.”
“We have set up a website at www.swcag.org.uk and social media for our campaign to see off Thakeham and we now need residents to sign up to show that we – the people who live here – do not want to see our communities destroyed.”
Thakeham claims the community would create a “high-quality sustainable environment and outstanding quality of life, with a strong economic focus to nurture inclusive growth”.