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We don't want Cambridge to swallow up our villages'

Dave Kelleway, Chairman, Teversham Parish Council concern about the provision of buses for the village. Picture: Keith Heppell
Dave Kelleway, Chairman, Teversham Parish Council concern about the provision of buses for the village. Picture: Keith Heppell

Thousands of new houses that are planned for Cambridge are breaching the city boundaries, and villagers are getting ready for a fight to keep their rural identity intact.

A map of the proposed Cherry Hinton development
A map of the proposed Cherry Hinton development

Villagers to the south-east of the city will see plans emerge for 10,000- 12,000 homes in the vicinity in coming years.

With no physical boundary in the form of major roads the city’s only barrier to growth is the green belt.

Teversham residents are seeing this consumed as the city edges closer. At present this comes in the form of new development, “Land North of Cherry Hinton”.

The vision, a “vibrant, high quality and distinctive extension” to Cherry Hinton, would see 1,200 new homes as well as a primary and secondary school.

It is one of two developments on land owned by Marshalls – combined with Wing, the other development north of Newmarket Road, there are around 2,500 houses on the way.

Cllr Dave Kelleway, chair of Teversham Parish Council, told the Cambridge Independent of the “huge impact” these developments will have.

“For all the necklace villages, our primary aim is always to prevent coalescence with the city, because we are very different. The last thing we want is to be swallowed up by Cambridge,” he said.

“The village itself is completely separate and has a very different character. We don’t want it to be just another part of the metropolis.

“Until recent years that had always been a big part of South Cambridgeshire District Council’s policy, to protect those necklace villages, but unfortunately the council seems to have rolled over and are much less supportive at present. Government policy is very much in favour of developing everywhere.

“Were particularly unhappy about the Cherry Hinton North development – the amount of separation between that development and the village is far too small.”

It’s not just villagers who are unhappy. Cherry Hinton city councillor Russ McPherson wrote to planners to tell of the “dismay and worry” of many residents.

He said: “Very little, if any, account is taken of the community that has made its life here over many years – there only seems to be talk and plans for who will live here –nothing for those of us who do live here and whose lives will be changed forever.

“We object on the grounds of over development, destruction of the existing community and the obliteration of the local wildlife.”

Traffic is an issue, combined with complaints of a poor bus service. There is also little hope that plans for a metro, being proposed by the combined authority mayor James Palmer, will help.

Mr Kelleway said that without a good bus service in place soon, development on the scale proposed will lead to “utter chaos”.

“It’s outrageous really to be three miles from the city centre and to be so isolated,” he said, owing to the current bus timetable that serves Teversham.

“Providing they showed much more sensitivity to the villages and left a gap between them I don’t think people would object to the houses, but you need a first-rate public transport system. We’ve got the worst of all worlds, we’ll be swamped by development, and traffic, and there are no solutions on the cards.

“That’s why the mayor’s proposals are extraordinarily dangerous and he’s going to have a hell of a fight on his hands.

“He wants to fund his metro system and wants to add another 50,000 houses, and that would swamp our villages.

“Even a metro system isn’t going to solve that. There will still be huge problems and you just end up making the situation worse.”

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for planning, Cllr Tumi Hawkins, said: “Our new Lib Dem administration is focussed on protecting what makes our villages unique and special, while ensuring well-connected and high-quality homes are built in the right places. We’re particularly conscious of striking this balance when it comes to planned growth around the edge of Cambridge.

“It’s also worth noting that, since May, villages across South Cambridgeshire have enjoyed more protection from unplanned development as we’ve been able to show we have enough suitable land available to meet the number of homes that need to be built during the next five years.

“Between 2014 and May this year that wasn’t the case, which meant planning decisions were tilted towards delivering more housing outside of village boundaries, and many of our decisions to refuse these developments were overturned by government inspectors.

“Now we are out of that period, all our local policies can be given appropriate weight which gives communities more protection from speculative planning applications.”

Richard Howe, managing director of Marshall Group Properties, said: “Along with our neighbouring landowners and partners, we have been working closely with the two local authorities to bring forward this exciting development on the land north of Cherry Hinton, which will provide much-needed housing, schools, open space and other facilities to support the continued success of the Cambridge economy.

“The proposed development protects the established green belt which will ensure that the setting and identity of Teversham is maintained. It also includes provision for a new and enhanced network of publicly accessible routes through the site, better connecting Teversham and Cherry Hinton to the city centre, in particular for pedestrians and cyclists, including a new dedicated link along Coldhams Lane.”

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