Northstowe is a new town that will eventually have up to 10,000 homes, with a anticipated population of 24,400 in Cambridgeshire, UK. The new town will fall in the Longstanton ward of South Cambridgeshire District Council. Northstowe has been in development for around 15 years and through varying political administrations. Originally proposed to be "an exemplar of sustainability in the use of renewable energy resources and reducing carbon emissions", Northstowe will still have many exemplar features. The Northstowe site is located five miles northwest of the city of Cambridge, between the villages of Oakington and Longstanton. The Northstowe development is being led by the Homes and Communities Agency and the developers Gallagher Estates.
From its inception circa 2003 Northstowe was expected to be a low-carbon development, with the knowledge gained being applied elsewhere in the region. To further this aim, the Northstowe Sustainable Energy Partnership was created to link the developers, the local authorities, the Energy Saving Trust, Renewables East and other parties.
In January 2008, however, Yvette Cooper Minister for Housing and Planning Department for Communities and Local Government at the time confirmed in Parliament that Northstowe had not been adopted as an eco-town because the 2007 planning application submitted "predate[s] the eco-towns programme", and because it would not be zero-carbon.
In 2012 outline consent was given to Gallagher to progress with the first phase of 1500 homes, a primary school, road improvements and a local centre. The primary school, The Pathfinder Church of England School, opened its gates to pupils in September 2017, taking pupils from the new housing development between Willingham and Longstanton and other local villages.
In 2015 outline consent was also agreed in principle to build a further 3,500 homes, a town centre, 3 more schools including a secondary school education campus and a link road to the A14, plus a road linking the town to the Guided Busway. The homes in phase two cannot be occupied until a major A14 upgrade is completed which started in 2016 and finishes in 2020.
The site covers Oakington Barracks on the former RAF Oakington, a World War II airfield which was used for Short Stirling bomber forces and other assorted units. It was used for flight training until the 1970s.
In the phase one Local Management Study, published in February 2006 it was suggested that a community-based energy company might be formed, owning assets such as wind turbines or combined heat and power plants for the benefit of the town, perhaps based on the models of the Vauban district of Freiburg, Germany, and the cooperative energy companies of Denmark and Sweden. Car clubs, cycling and walking were also envisaged. In March 2006 the site was acquired by English Partnerships.
In March 2007 planning inspectors recommended that Northstowe should consist of 10,000 homes rather than the 8,000 originally planned, and ruled that a country park need not be incorporated. The news was greeted with concern by many in the area who feared further expansion in the future.
In the same month Yvette Cooper, Minister for Housing and Planning Department for Communities and Local Government at the time announced that Northstowe would be designed with energy and water efficiency standards up to 50% above conventional buildings. On 13 May 2007, Gordon Brown went further, announcing that the housing on the development would be built to zero-carbon building standards if he were elected to succeed Tony Blair as leader of the Labour Party. In response, local Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, David Howarth, called on the Chancellor to allow local authorities to impose zero-carbon standards on other developments too, and to provide a serious investment in public transport for the new eco-towns.
A planning application for the new town was submitted to South Cambridgeshire District Council on 19 December 2007. Plans included the construction of around 9,500 homes, a town centre area, schools and employment areas.
In January 2008, however, Cooper confirmed in Parliament that Northstowe had not been adopted as an eco-town because the planning application "predate[s] the eco-towns programme", and because it would not be zero-carbon.
In November 2008 it was announced that the scheme would be delayed by at least a year due to the Financial crisis of 2007–2010. In March 2008 the Cambridge Cycling Campaign submitted a formal objection to the Northstowe planning application due to the inadequate cycling and walking provision.
In June 2009 the scheme was not included in the first round of schemes to be given the go-ahead because it did not score highly enough for sustainability; only one scheme, Rackheath eco-town, received an 'A' and was approved. In December 2009 it was announced that the scheme was 'back on the government's eco-town list' because elements had been redesigned to meet even higher sustainability standards.
In February 2012 a Development Framework Document was adopted by the planning authority to progress the town. The plan envisages a maximum of 10,000 new homes created in phases building services and facilities along with homes piece by piece, the first being to the north adjoining the existing Longstanton park-and-ride site owned by Gallagher and the second on the former Government-owned barracks. In October 2012, the first phase of the new town was approved by South Cambridgeshire council. with completion of the whole town envisaged after about 25 years.
In December 2014 the government announced that the Government-owned land at Northstowe could be a test location for a new government initiative that directly commissioned homes, overseen by the Homes and Communities Agency.
In the 2015 United Kingdom budget on 18 March 2015, George Osborne confirmed the Government's intent to create a joint venture with a private sector partner to lead development on the Government-owned part of the town location. Three-quarters of the homes started by 2020 will be constructed under a direct contract with the public sector.
The first building, a primary school, started on site in April 2015 and the first homes occupied in 2017.
In 2015 outline consent was also agreed in principle to build a further 3,500 homes, a town centre, 3 more schools including a secondary school education campus and a link road to the A14, plus a road linking the town to the Guided Busway. The homes in phase two cannot be occupied until a major A14 upgrade is completed which starts in 2016 and finishes in 2020.
As of August 2019 approximately 400 homes in Northstowe were occupied, with the Bloor Homes site completed and 5 active housebuilding sites: Bovis Homes, Linden Homes, Taylor Wimpey, and Barratt Homes as both Barratt and David Wilson Homes brands. Playing fields, allotments, public spaces and the secondary school were under development.
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In the mediaEdit
- 26 June 2008, Cambridge Evening News: Students unveil their vision for Northstowe
- 16 April 2008, The Guardian, Clash over Cambridgeshire green town plans
- 13 May 2007, BBC: Brown outlines 'eco towns' plan
- 7 March 2007, Government News Network: New Eco-Towns could help tackle climate change[permanent dead link]
- 14 July 2005, BBC: Plan for new town moves forward