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Histon and Impington Village Action Group

South Cambs District Council South Cambridgeshire Hall Cambourne Business Park Cambourne CB23 6EA th 13 February 2013

Issues and Options 2 consultation

1 Histon and Impington Village Action Group
Histon and Impington Village Action Group was formed by a group of residents who are concerned about the development proposals for the villages. We are a non-political group whose major concern is the well-being of the whole community. Quotes in this document are from people living in Histon and Impington. Quotes in this document are from people living in Histon and Impington. 1.1 What we aim to do:  Provide a forum to enable people to exchange news, views and information  Provide up to date information for our supporters  Influence decision makers in the planning process and ensure residents’ views are heard. We support limited sustainable and well-planned development in conjunction with new investment in sensitively designed services and infrastructure to maintain the integrity and character of the villages of Histon and Impington. We do not support housing development on the Green Belt. 1.2 Survey 800 paper surveys were distributed to houses in Histon and Impington and an online survey was created. A total of 122 surveys were received. There are two themes that people feel very strongly about: 1) the Green Belt should not be built on and 2) a concern that the local infrastructure, which is already overstretched, will not keep pace with the growth in population.      39% said they do not want any further housing development in the village. 55% of those that said some development was needed, stated less than 50 homes should be built. 96% have concerns about the potential building of 550 more homes. 96% are concerned about building on the Green Belt. 93% are concerned about the impact of additional traffic.

The Community’s Vision
We want to see a community which evolves in a way that does not impact on the quality of life of the people who live in Histon and Impington. The community would like planners to know that our services are already over-stretched and there is a need for investments in schools and healthcare, community facilities and traffic management. The need for a medical centre was the most commonly raised issue in the survey. Investment in surface water and sewerage management is required and in the creation of safe pathways and cycle paths. We want to retain our open spaces so that we don’t lose our rural feel and to make sure we have enough parks and outdoor places for the whole community to enjoy. We need a community centre which is large enough to serve the whole community and more employment opportunities. We may need limited new housing but it is important that we don’t grow so large that we become a town and just another suburb of Cambridge. We would very much welcome the opportunity to work with our own Parish Council and the District Council to ensure that the views of the Histon and Impington Community are taken into account in the development of the new South Cambridgeshire Local Plan.

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Histon and Impington should be a place where:      A high proportion of people walk, or cycle, to shops and facilities and feel it is safe to do so. There is a strong community built around existing schools. Existing services are extended and improved and new services are developed where most needed. There is access to the countryside. The distinctive village character is retained.

“Histon and Impington are pleasant places to live because they are still villages – they are not built up like towns and there is a sense of community. Building more homes, particularly on green belt land which should be preserved as such, will not only have a detrimental effect on the environment but also on our quality of life.” Histon and Impington resident 1.3 Public Meeting A public meeting was organised by the Action Group and attended by nearly 60 people on 4th February. The people attending were unanimously not in favour of building in the Green Belt and gave evidence to support the view that the current infrastructure could not cope with a large increase in population. Many residents are not antidevelopment as such but do not believe that Green Belt should be built on when there are many Brownfield sties available across the area.

2.0 Identifying Housing Need
We have hundreds of supporters across Histon and Impington who feel strongly that they should be able to have some influence over what is built in their community and feel that what is proposed for this area will not meet local need. The proposals represent almost a 20% increase in dwellings for the village and people question whether that is sustainable given the upgrade to infrastructure that would be needed. What is the ‘full, objectively assessed’ need for that level of growth in this community? If the council is using a ‘predict and provide’ model to determine future housing need, what is the evidence base and how can local people be confident that the council’s predictions for population growth and housing need are sound? Won’t the new enormous town that will be Northstowe create enough houses in the long term to meet all the growth requirements of the area?

3.0 Green Belt
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) says that: ‘As with previous Green Belt policy, inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.’ Additionally, if land is scarce and precious, communities should surely be able to influence what is built in their area as they are well placed to understand local need. We do not believe that ‘exceptional circumstances’ exist to warrant removal of land from the Green Belt around Histon and Impington when there are realistic alternatives for housing and Brownfield sites which should be considered first. There does not seem to be any statements from the District Council regarding reasons for needing to build in the Green Belt and any definition of the circumstances necessitating such building. The fact that Marshalls’ land is not now available, which was given to us as a reason, does not in our view constitute very special circumstances. The NPPF also states that ‘a local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in Green Belt’ and lists exceptions where building may be permitted. We believe that none of the exceptions listed apply to any of the 3 (Buxhall Farm, Impington Lane and NIAB3) Green Belt sites proposed for Histon and Impington. The government has stated that it attaches great importance to Green Belt and yet our Green Belt seems to be significantly under threat. Nick Boles, planning minister, said in The Observer on 28/11/12 “We’re going to protect the green belt – but if people want to have housing for their kids they have got to accept we need to build more on some open land.” There are mixed messages coming from government and councils. We believe that if land has to be released from the Green Belt there should be significant benefits for our community. “An appalling legacy to leave for the future generations if green belt is built on. Dreadful destruction of precious and ever-diminishing wildlife habitat.” “All Brownfield used first – know it’s cheaper if developers cut ‘new turf’. Ensure all options looked into to develop 400,000 plots already bought by developers in the UK. Do up existing buildings, build up, occupy empty buildings.” “Totally opposed. Green Belt land should be retained and any new housing development should take place and any new development should take place on land which has previously been developed.”

Histon and Impington residents 2

What are the Council’s targets to re-use previously developed land? Does the council use a ‘Brownfield first’ approach? What is the Brownfield target that the Council set for the proportion of new housing to be built on Brownfield sites? The ‘Vision Park’ in Histon has many unoccupied premises – could the buildings/land be used creatively?

4.0 Infrastructure
Cursory references to the infrastructure in the SHLAAs do not reflect the true picture of Histon and Impington’s current infrastructure capacity. Additionally the Infrastructure Delivery Study commissioned by Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Council in August 2012 is flawed. We do not see any evidence for objectively assessed, accurate infrastructure requirements based on different building scenarios. The Local Development Framework Core Strategy Development Plan document (2007) states as a strategy objective ‘To provide and enable provision of enhanced infrastructure to meet the needs of the expanded population.’ and states in the policy for Rural Centres that ‘Development and redevelopment without any limit on individual scheme size will be permitted within the village frameworks of Rural Centres, as defined on the Proposals Map, provided that adequate services, facilities and infrastructure are available or can be made available as a result of the development.’ How are these issues to be resolved when what is needed, for example a medical centre, cannot be funded by developer contributions alone and additional funding does not appear to have been identified. 4.1 Health services The GP surgery has 40% less capacity than it should have for this population. Evidence from local people highlights that they are sometimes experiencing long waiting times for appointments and often very long waiting times to see a doctor of their choice. A village of this size would normally be expected to be served by a medical centre. 4.2 Schools Some families did not get a place for their child at the infants school this year and are having to travel out of the village or in one case, chose to leave the village. If, for example, 100 dwellings are built, resulting in a need for 2535 primary places (as per County Council pupil product ratio per 100 dwellings) how will those children be accommodated within the village schools where the infants school in particular is full? If, for example, 500 houses are built, requiring considerable expansion of facilities, (assuming this cannot possibly generate enough income for a new school) it is unlikely that existing facilities could be extended to accommodate an increased child population of this size. The NPPF says that ‘The government attaches great importance to ensuring that a sufficient choice of school places is available to meet the needs of existing and new communities.’ Unless serious consideration is given to these issues future development in Histon and Impington, in our opinion, is not sustainable. Children attending school outside of the local area and having to travel is completely undesirable and unacceptable. We would hope that the Council will give serious consideration to these issues ahead of any planned development. People need houses, the villages should share in provision and not be ‘nimbys’ but infrastructure needed – schools (all ages) and health services not coping now”. “The infant school was oversubscribed this year & new homes tend to attract young families so the situation will only worsen and the infant school has no expansion capacity. If another school was built with the 400 home proposal it would divide the village up. “1st routine appointment at GP today (21/1) is on 5/2.” Histon and Impington Residents 4.3 Flood Risk and Sewerage Issues The concerns about flood risk are expressed in Issues and Options 1. New information is that both sites (Buxhall and Impington) have had standing water for months. 4.3.1 Buxhall Farm site It’s particularly concerning that at Buxhall Farm there is an extensive area of standing water and the water table is so high that it is at or just below ground level for much of the year, producing a huge area of surface water with

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attendant groundwater flooding. Sewerage issues concern residents. Residents living in the area of Buxhall have varying degrees of problems with sewerage throughout the year. The Buxhall Farm site is productive land. It is also prone to 'groundwater flooding' . The farm land is a totally unsuitable site for domestic dwellings as it regularly floods and with increased rainfall in years to come the flooding will only get worse. Groundwater flooding is a notoriously difficult and expensive problem to solve and solutions are often only temporary at best.”

Histon and Impington Resident
“For the past 6 weeks we have had a pump working day and night emptying the clean water tank in our cesspit to remove excess water in order that foul water does not back up to our property. Concreting over this site will make the situation impossible.”

Histon and Impington Resident
4.3.2 Impington Lane sites Part of the Impington Lane sites is in a flood plain - flood zones 2/3 as highlighted in the SHLAA. The impact on current local residents in nearby accommodation on their insurance is significant. For one resident their household insurance premiums have gone up by 50% this year, having been informed by her insurance company that this is due to flood risk issues and one resident was refused household insurance due to the same issues. This has implications for any new dwellings built on that site. People are mindful of the issues that Cambourne had where foul water flooding was a result of surface water flooding getting into the foul water network and want that to be avoided in Histon and Impington. 4.4 Traffic Issues The concerns about traffic were unanimously expressed in Issues and Options1. People report that it frequently takes them upwards of 25 minutes to exit the village from The Green. This is a car dominated village, partly because it is so spread out and all the facilities are at one end (Histon). Not everyone is able to walk from their home to the amenities, particularly older people. Many people do not consider using the guided bus as the only stop it is too far from their home and there is no parking. The survey highlighted the concerns that people have about the traffic lights at The Green and how dangerous this is at school open and closing times as hundreds of children try to cross with heavy traffic on the B1049 and cars regularly going through red lights in their desperation to make progress on the road. With the news that Northstowe will not have all its facilities in place at the initial stage, there is a strong possibility that residents from there will come to Histon to use the services. There is a very positive element to this in terms of support for local businesses but the unavoidable negative is that people will use their cars as many people do currently from nearby villages such as Oakington and Dry Drayton who are not well-served. The unsolvable problem is that the B1049 is just that, a B road which is expected to take a huge amount of traffic from north of the County as it is a major feeder road into Cambridge. Planners cannot ignore this issue and just assume that people will start to use public transport more frequently. Transport planners have consistently ignored the need for villages to be linked by public transport and our 10 minute bus service which would have encouraged more people to use the buses has been reduced to a 20 minute service. “The village has enough problems with traffic during peak hours and is constantly being used as an alternative route when there are problems on the A14. The village itself cannot support that number of additional homes with all the extra problems that will come with it.”

Histon and Impington Resident
The B1049 creates a ‘bottleneck’ for cars attempting to enter Cambridge from north of the county and developments in Cottenham and on Histon Road, South of the A14 will create additional traffic that will be using this road. We would urge planners to encourage the County Council to develop a traffic management plan to identify issues and sustainable solutions to traffic problems specific to this village and to look at creative ways of making it as easy as possible for people to get around the village either on foot or by bicycle.

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5.0 Employment
It is regrettable that there is no mention of increasing employment opportunities or the provision of land for employment purposes in the proposals presented in Options 1. The NPPF states that ‘to promote a strong rural economy, local and neighbourhood plans should: support the sustainable growth and expansion of business in all types of rural areas, both through the conversion of existing buildings and well designed new buildings’. There is no evidence of this other than that proposed by our Parish Council. Without the provision of employment opportunities as part of proposed population growth, people will need to travel to Cambridge and its environs. Without adequate public transport infrastructure, this will probably be by car. We would like to see new employment premises incorporated into any development proposals and would want to work with the Council to identify any potential opportunities. The Local Plan should include opportunities for employment in our locality.

6.0 Station Site Impington
The proposals put forward by Impington Parish Council appear to be a considered response to an identified need for this community. Since Bishop’s hardware store closed, the area has appeared run down and needs to be redeveloped. It is very positive that the Parish Council has included business premises and the opportunity for employment within their proposal. There is an imbalance of services in the village as most of the amenities are in Histon so this proposal would help to redress that balance. A number of local people have queried whether parking will be part of the development as it cannot be assumed that everyone who wants to use the facility will either come there by guided bus or would walk. The provision of parking would make it more accessible to those with a disability or older people. It is important that the Railway Vue pub is retained as it is the only pub at that end of the village and is a building with some history. It’s not clear from the proposal what kind of community amenity would be provided, but as there is a shortage of community meeting spaces within the village, it would be a good idea to incorporate some kind of community meeting facility within the plans if at all possible.

7.0 Cottenham Parish Council Proposals
There is one element of the Cottenham Parish Council’s development proposals which is likely to have significant consequences for Histon and Impington and that is the extra traffic that any of the options will produce. We note that a new by-pass has been proposed as a solution to reduce traffic going through Cottenham, however, once the traffic has left the by-pass, any traffic that is headed towards Cambridge will have no option but to go down the B1049. Any decisions regarding these options must consider the impact of increased traffic volumes on Histon and Impington combined with any additional traffic from new housing in this village and further afield. This needs to be modelled to be as certain as possible about the likely outcome and whether any of the developments would be sustainable.

8.0 NIAB3
This is the only remaining piece of open land separating Cambridge City and Impington. The feedback from local people highlighted that residents feel strongly that they did not want the village to lose its rural identity or to be seen as an extension of Cambridge. Visually the land signifies a change from urban to village environment and plays an important role in separating the village from what is soon to be (NIAB1&2) a huge built up area. The other concern raised about NIAB3 is that if the community stadium was sited here, people who wanted to access it from north of the county would invariably travel through Histon and Impington on the B1049 adding to the existing traffic issues. “What we need to develop in Histon and Impington is our village character. Vital to this is to reverse the spread of Cambridge that threatens to subsume us.”

Histon and Impington Resident

9.0 Access to North of Impington Lane sites
The SHLAA indicates that a junction located on to Impington Lane would be acceptable to the Highway Authority. The Bidwell’s report commissioned by the landowners contained some serious flaws in relation to assessing access to the site and cannot be depended on. ‘The proposed site is acceptable in principle subject to detailed design.’ We have had our own expert to look at the site access in Impington Lane. There are a number of issues: At the location of the proposed junction Impington Lane has a carriageway width of 5.57m. This, as well as the size of the radius of the kerb line into the side road, is an important factor when considering large vehicles turning into the side road. Large vehicles, such as refuse collection vehicles and pantechnicons, should be able to turn into the side road without the need to cross the centre line of the main road given how busy Impington Lane is. The County Council's Design Guide assumes that a 3m wide nearside lane on the main road (i.e. overall carriageway width of

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6m) is necessary for this to be achievable together with kerb radii larger than can be accommodated without purchasing land from properties on either side of the proposed access. It is highly likely that the kerb radius that can be accommodated within the land available would be inadequate. The visibility at this site is impaired by hedging and fencing of properties either side of the proposed access. Given that traffic speeds are often higher than 30mph (police traffic report Sept 2008 showed significant amount of vehicles travelling at speeds higher than 30mph and no evidence to suggest this is now not the case despite speed bumps in place) it is reasonable to expect that visibility splays of 2.4m x 70m would be required. This cannot be achieved without the removal of hedges and fencing on neighbouring properties. Given the frequency of buses on Impington Lane and the fact that it carries frequent other traffic and is a busy access to the Village College as well as a through route to Milton and the Household Recycling Centre we would highlight that it is already of sub-standard width for the nature and volume of traffic which it carries and should not be subjected to an increase in traffic. Possible increases in traffic as a result of other proposed developments should also be taken into account.

10.0 Consultation
It says in the Council’s LDF Statement of Community Involvement the council is committed to the principle of ‘Encouraging ‘real’ participation in local democracy by people who may normally feel excluded from decisionmaking processes.’ It says that the council is aware that in the past certain groups have been under represented and seeks to redress this. It includes children, young people and older people in the list of groups which may have been under represented previously. We have seen no evidence that consultation with those groups has happened in our local area. We know from some of our survey responses that many older people feel excluded from the process, they may not have a computer or it may be difficult for them to attend the planning exhibition held locally. We want to ask what the council did to actively engage in consulting these groups of people on local planning issues. In our opinion the consultation process is flawed. It does not actively engage people in discussion about what their vision is for the community. It presents pre-defined options and asks people if they object or support. That, in our view, is not conducive with ‘empowering local people to shape their surroundings (NPPF p5) nor does it demonstrate a ‘Creative exercise in finding ways to enhance and improve the places in which people live their lives’ (NPPF p5) We discovered that very few people were aware of the Issues and Options consultations. The council may believe that they had a good response but the achievement of having the number of responses they did is the result of a few local people putting hundreds of letters through letterboxes with the intention of making sure that the community in Histon and Impington was informed. The process is not accessible to a large section of the community. The website for Issues and Options 2 is really complicated and it is very difficult to find the right place to comment on particular proposals. To date (12/2/13) the following number of people have entered representations onto the SCDC Issues and Options 2 online forms: Station site PC1 (9), Former Bishop’s Hardware Store H2 (1), By-pass farm R1 (2) and NIAB 3 GB6 (9)

We would welcome the opportunity to present at any planning meeting where decisions about sites in Histon and Impington are being made.
Yours sincerely Sue Lee On behalf of Histon and Impington Village Action Group

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