Meeting takes place following recent town announcement

Local councillors and Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) representatives have welcomed the Housing and Planning Minister meeting them as a matter of urgency to clarify the government’s recent Northstowe announcement and discuss how they can work together to make sure quality remains the top priority for the new town.

Brandon Lewis MP met with councillors from South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council along with the HCA yesterday (Thursday 11 December), where he stressed that working together and continued local engagement was vital to building a new community at Northstowe.

Councillors sought reassurances from the Minister that quality remains the top priority for Northstowe and that the government was committed to continuing to work with local partners to move the town forward in the best way for local people.

At the meeting Brandon Lewis stressed that the Government’s investment in the town would help make sure the right roads and facilities were in place to match the number of new homes being built.

It was also confirmed that it is business as usual for the first phases of the town. The first phase of 1,500 homes, which includes employment uses, a local centre, primary school and sports and community facilities, has planning permission and the developer, Gallagher Estates, expected to begin work early in the New Year.

The councils also consulted on the second phase of 3,500 homes this autumn – which includes the town centre – and are now negotiating with the HCA, the developer of that phase, to make sure they take on board local views.

The Minister also confirmed the pilot for part of the site they announced last week could see the government building their own homes as well as other schemes to encourage local builders to develop at the new town and encourage more self build to make sure homes can be built more quickly. The plans are at an early stage and the Minister reiterated that he wants local councils and the HCA involved in developing the model to make sure it is right for the town and will speed up delivery.

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said:

“Northstowe is a great site for new housing, supported by local people and the council, to bring much needed new homes to the area. That is why the government is throwing its full weight behind the proposals and why through visits like this one we will keep on engaging with South Cambridgeshire throughout the planning process.”

Cllr Tim Wotherspoon, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning, said:

“I really welcome that the government has stressed the importance of proper local engagement and the fact they too are focussed on putting quality first. It is reassuring that the Minister and Gallagher Estates have confirmed it is business as usual for the first phases of homes being built as planning permission is in place and work should begin early next year. The pilot for part of the site could be an interesting opportunity to speed up development, but as the Minister has said, it is early days and we look forward to discussing this with them over the coming months. We all want to deliver a fantastic new community where people want to live, work and go to school and that remains our focus.”

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Chairman of the Economy and Environment Committee, said:

“We welcome the Minister coming to Cambridgeshire so he could hear that local authorities how we will play a key role in delivering this vital development. For Northstowe to be successful it is vital for the right transport links to be in place. The Busway is already up and running for the first residents and we’re investing in the Science Park Station. We now need the government to deliver on their pledge to complete the upgrade of the A14 by 2020 as it plays a key role in the future of Northstowe.”

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Joan Whitehead, Chairman of the Children and Young Peoples Committee, said:

“Excellent quality schools are vital for the success of Northstowe. It was good to have the opportunity to explain our vision for education to the Minister and urge Government to ensure that as the fastest growing part of the country we have sufficient funds to deliver the first class schools that this new community needs.”

Paul Kitson, Senior Project Manager at the HCA, said:

“Really exciting news that the government see Northstowe as a priority and will help build on the work we have been carrying out with our partners at the site over the last few years. Our phase two plans, which include the heart of the new town, are with the councils, and as planned we will be working with them over the coming month to make sure we have got the details right.”

Tony Gallagher, Chairman of Gallagher Estates, said: “This is a very exciting scheme and we will be delivering the first 1,500 homes and associated community infrastructure over the next 4 years.”

The councils are arranging briefings to update the Northstowe Joint Development Control Committee, District and County councillors.