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Cambridge University have proposed a 1400 home development to the west of the city

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North of Barton Road Development. Graphic South Cambs County Council
North of Barton Road Development. Graphic South Cambs County Council

Campaigners have expressed concerns that the plans reveal a conflict with the university's position on the City Deal Board.

Cambridge University and a number of its colleges have proposed a 1,400-home development to the west of Cambridge.

The North of Barton Road Land Owners Group proposal was submitted to the local inspector to be assessed for inclusion in the upcoming Local Plans for South Cambridgeshire and the city.

The group includes Cambridge University, Corpus Christi College, Downing College and Jesus College.

The proposal was put forward in January but discussions over the introduction of a second guided busway through the West Fields have put it back in the spotlight.

A university spokesperson said: “The proposal put forward by the group in January this year is to build around 1,400 new homes, 40 per cent of which will be affordable, community facilities and a primary school built on what is currently green belt land comprising arable farmland, punctuated by low level hedgerows and a small number of trees.

“The proposal includes plans for a new country park adjacent to Coton Countryside Reserve, and would significantly increase the amount of green space directly accessible to the public.

“An increasing number of businesses and employers base themselves on the fringes of Cambridge, and this proposal for new homes on land near a major employment site is aimed at creating a community of people who can walk, cycle or take the bus to work throughout the city.

“This will help meet the considerable challenges relating to transport and the affordability and supply of housing in Cambridge today.”

However, the Local Liaison Forum (LLF) – a platform for residents to be involved in discussions – has put on record its concern that the university, which is represented on the City Deal board, is “both influencing the route decision and promoting land development to the local inspector”.

Coton parish councillor Helen Bradbury, the chairman of the LLF, said: “Local people are very concerned that the university has been in the privileged position to influence the route for the Cambourne to Cambridge busway.”

In response to the Cambridge Independent’s inquiry regarding the bus route, a spokesperson for the university said: “The university supports efforts to maximise the use of existing infrastructure to connect employment sites with the city and residential areas.”

Development of the area has been under discussion for years but issues over transport infrastructure for the site, and its green belt status, have so far prohibited progress.

Stephen Coates, of the Save the West Fields campaign, hopes the land will be maintained as it is.

He said: “It is very clear that the High Court in 2008 refused consent for development of the Coton green corridor because of the importance of the landscape for the setting of the city and because the lack of roads/busways did not make the site sustainable.

“The university and colleges understand well enough that the busway will make the development more sustainable.

“Their objections to the Local Plan state that too much weight has been given to setting considerations for the West Fields.

“Clearly, two highly visible City Deal busways would harm the landscape integrity of the fields.”

A City Deal spokesperson said: “The land north of Barton Road is not allocated for development in the Local Plans currently under consideration. The busway decision is not in any way linked to this speculative development.”

A park and ride site is also proposed in the area but the spokesperson added: “No decisions have been made on a final route or site for a new park and ride. Detailed assessment of a number of different options is currently under way, including the exploration of on-road options, and a number of potential locations for the park and ride site, which include Scotland Farm.

“Findings are set to be reported to the City Deal executive board in July 2017 and extensive further public consultation on a busway route is expected in the autumn of 2017.”

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