Countryside’s revised application for Bourn Airfield expands country park and adjusts entrance
A housing developer has returned with revised plans for thousands of homes at Bourn Airfield but campaigners against the scheme believe their concerns have still not been addressed.
Countryside Properties has amended its proposals for a major mixed-use development at the 210-hectare site. The firm says it has worked with South Cambridgeshire District Council on its vision for the airfield, taking into account the council’s supplementary planning document (SPD), which sets out the authority’s own aspirations for the scheme.
While the overall plan remains much the same – a development of 3,500 homes – the new plans include:
- Encouraging the use of sustainable transport by adjusting the site entrance to allow for busways, and expanding green corridors and parks to allow for wider pedestrian and cycle connections;
- Providing a mixed-use area close to the eastern busway stop to allow residents from nearby areas to benefit from the development;
- Expanding the country park and wildlife corridors to provide increased green spaces – Countryside believes this will contribute to an 11 per cent increase in biodiversity within the site; and
- Reorientating the village centre to provide amenities and services for the local community more centrally within the development.
Countryside has altered the eastern gateway alignment to reflect the preferred route in the council’s SPD. This has meant the road has been slightly changed to take account of the proposed facilities and development around the bus stop on the eastern side.
The western entrance has also been amended to further discourage vehicles travelling south on The Broadway, while allowing a route for the Cambourne-Cambridge busway as well as cycle and pedestrian routes into the site.
The Cambourne-Cambridge busway will have two busway stops to service this route – on the western and eastern sides of the development. Finally, the green corridors and cycle connections will run throughout and circle the development. This includes a cycle route alongside the bus route.
Andrew Taylor, planning director at Countryside Properties, said: “We at Countryside believe in working closely with the council and developing the scheme cooperatively. Following our detailed consultations, it is clear that our vision and the council’s are one and the same. The changes undertaken as a result of the supplementary planning document reflect this shared desire for placemaking. Our vision for Bourn Airfield has always been to create a vibrant community with sustainable living at its heart. We want to focus on making a community for local residents.”
However, those already living in villages close to the airfield say their major concern has not been addressed – the large numbers of car journeys that are expected to be created from the thousands of new homes. They have long argued that the development should have direct access to the A428 as, without it, traffic will have to go through established communities.
And they reject the idea that commuters will use public transport rather than their cars.
Des O’Brien, a Bourn parish councillor, said: “On a personal level I feel a sense of sad resignation that in spite of all the legitimate concerns expressed by hundreds of local people, Bourn Airfield Development has come forward with little or no acknowledgement of those concerns.
“For the residents of South Cambridgeshire, it’s plain to see that building dormitory settlements that are predominantly private car dependent will adversely effect the quality of life of everyone living in the county.
“The pattern of development particular to Cambridge, where villages surround a small city, was always going to be a challenge to housing development.
“By putting all of their eggs in the new settlement’s basket, the planning authority have chosen to increase the number of cars on our roads. This is especially concerning in an era where politicians are falling over one another to make public statements about their commitment to a zero-carbon future.”
Mr O’Brien added: “In Bourn we know first-hand the impact of many thousands of new houses whose residents have little choice other than to travel to work by car. We are disappointed, therefore, not to see more in the Bourn Airfield SPD, and in turn in the Countryside planning application, about exactly how they will get the commuters out of their cars. The aspirations for the Cambourne to Cambridge busway remain just that. Nothing concrete has yet been agreed.
“Locally, many residents feel that the airfield will simply become Cambourne East. This is not the concept that was promoted by the planning authority and yet, in our view, the SPD makes subsummation all the more likely. We do welcome the acknowledgement of the importance of sustainable transport options and we will support the development of pedestrian routes, cycle and bridleways and – ideally electric – bus routes.”
As well as thousands of homes, the proposals for Bourn Airfield include:
- A village centre with shops, services and leisure;
- New health facilities, two primary schools and a secondary school;
- Open spaces, sports and leisure facilities;
- The retention of existing woods, hedges and water features;
- Features for sustainable development and healthier living; and
- Alternative transport with pedestrian, cycle and bus routes across the site.
The application will go to the district council’s planning committee for a decision later this year. Deputy leader Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer said: “We are consulting on the changes made to the planning application and always encourage residents and businesses to have their say on these proposals. It is quick and easy to register your views.
“Visit scambs.gov.uk/planning/view-or-comment-on-a-planning-application/ and find the application using reference S/3440/18/OL.”
For more information about the plans, visit bournairfield.co.uk, email email@example.com, or call 0800 0385850.
More by this authorAdrian Peel