10:00 Wednesday 29th January 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[S]UZIE ROBERTS: It’s been revealed this morning that £30 million has been secured for the first 1,500 homes in Northstowe. The money will fund infrastructure projects around the new town, including a new primary school, secondary school and community centre. Cllr Ian Bates was asked when he thought work on the new development would start.
IAN BATES: We hope that perhaps later this year we will start to see some activity on the site. A primary school will be built early on, which means that when the people do move in, there will be those sort of accommdations ready for their children to go to school. It is a major step forward for Northstowe, but I’ve been around a long time as well, but it has been around a long time and people perhaps have thought it would never happen.
SUZIE ROBERTS: You can hear more of that interview with Ian Bates with Andy Harper straight after this bulletin.
[A]NDIE HARPER: Plans for a new town in the county north of Cambridge beside the villages of Oakington and Longstanton were first revealed over ten years ago. But while Northstowe as it became known exists on paper, it doesn’t exist in reality, even though people were supposed to be living there by now. But as you heard in the news, building work can finally get under way, and soon. Well earlier I spoke to Cllr Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning for Cambridgeshire County Council, to try and find out what today is all about. I suggested to him I’d been around a long time, and never expected this to happen. But today’s the day. He told me why.
IAN BATES: Well what’s going to happen today Andy quite simply is that we’ve struck a deal. It’s £30 million worth of infrastructure for Northstowe, so it’s a very very significant step forward in the development of this site, as this is for the first 1,500 houses. Remember there will be a lot more to come over the next years to come as well. So it’s very significant. £10 million for a new primary school, contributions for a new secondary school, a community centre, local centre with shops, employment, sports pitches, sports pavilions, lots of open spaces as well. So really it is a major step forward for Northstowe (UNCLEAR). And I understand, because I’ve been around a long time as well, that it has been around a long time, and people perhaps have thought it would never happen. It will happen, and today is a very significant step forward.
ANDIE HARPER: And you say you’ve struck a deal. Who with?
IAN BATES: The deal has been dealt with between the three .. the two councils, that’s South Cambs District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and the developers, which is Gallaghers. So we’ve been in detailed discussions with them. And just to remind your listeners, this is a legally binding agreement. So this is a legal document, which is signed by the three parties, which if you like makes sure that what we have agreed is delivered. So it’s between the three of us.
ANDIE HARPER: When do you expect development to actually start?
IAN BATES: Well I would hope that perhaps later this year we will start to see some activity on the site. Hopefully the weather might be a little better, because one of the things of course you have to do is to start to put in roads, and things of that nature obviously. So I would hope later on this year hopefully when the weather gets a little better and a little drier as well Andy.
ANDIE HARPER: When the development actually starts, what are going to be the priorities in terms of what we see first? Because we hear so often don’t we people moving into developments, obviously in most cases smaller than Northstowe, but quite large developments nonetheless, and they say there’s loads of houses built but we’ve got no infrastructure. Are you going to learn from let’s say previous mistakes, in terms of what comes first?
IAN BATES: I think the answer to that is yes Andie. That’s why the £10 million. That primary school will be built, early on, which means that when the people do move in, there will be those sort of accommodations ready for their children to go to school. And I think the most significant things is the fact that we will plan with the Homes and Communities Agency for a new secondary school. We’ve secured £8 million towards that, and the land, so the simple answer to your question really is we will make sure that we deliver the infrastructure. It is crucial. And perhaps the only other thing to mention I think Andie is not to forget that in the longer term we need a new upgraded A14 as well for the future. And hopefully that will come as well.
ANDIE HARPER: It’s funny you should mention that, because that was going to be my next point, which is accessibility We know that the Guided Bus was built to serve Northstowe, and it has been successful thus far, and will be busier obviously. But there are also the road links to talk about. Not everybody can get on the Guided Bus. So this is hand in hand with the A14, isn’t it? Will it be able to cope in the development stage?
IAN BATES: We’re working, all three councils, along with people like Huntingdon District Council, working very closely with the Highways Agency, to ensure that it is delivered Andie, and it has got to be a timely delivery as well, which links into Northstowe, and other developments on the A14 corridor. So I’m very very optimistic that we’ve reached a milestone on the A14. The tolling’s gone. We can now get on and deliver that road and that improvement to the A14.
ANDIE HARPER: So a good day for all of those who thought that Northstowe was more than just mythical. Because now it is a reality.
IAN BATES: Absolutely. I think we’ve also just to remind Andie, there’s still detail to be done. When you look at the design of the houses, we need to ensure that the design is right. We need to ensure that we’ve got things in the homes, like broadband. Broadband is just routine nowadays, so we’ve got to make sure in the next bit that the detail of the actual design of the houses, the layout of the houses, the cycleways so people can walk to the school from their homes or cycle etcetera are all actually deliverable and of high quality. Because that’s essentially what we want is a high quality development for Northstowe, something that we can all be proud of.
ANDIE HARPER: Councillor Ian Bates who I spoke to much earlier this morning, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning for Cambridgeshire County Council. So are you jumping up and down for joy? Northstowe is about to be started. Is this what you’ve been waiting for?