Community Forum meeting

Alex Rileyfrom Cllr Alex Riley
These are my brief notes from last night’s meeting of the Northstowe Community Forum. Some 50 members of the public turned up which is good going for a freezing January evening. Tim Wotherspoon chaired the meeting. The meeting was both constructive and informative. There were four items to be discussed.

Phase 2 Update
Site surveys have revealed a handful of buried items which might be lumps of concrete but also could be unexploded ordnance (UXO). These are to be investigated. If they are UXO they will be blown up on site. Unlike the events of 9 years ago, disposal will use much more sand than then and will consequently require neither road closures nor evacuations. I asked for some advance warning, just so we know. The site is known to have heavy metal contamination but I was assured that no mustard gas was ever dumped there.

Questions were asked about the use of School Lane / Rampton Road by heavy vehicles accessing the Phase 2 site. Construction traffic is explicitly barred from using village roads. This needs to be watched.

The S106 agreement was due to be completed by now and is now due “by Easter”. The problem is the Government’s pronouncements on Starter Homes which, if applied to Northstowe, will have a huge impact on the S106. The promise was made some months ago that the S106 would go back to the (now disbanded) Northstowe committee before final agreement. This is particularly important if major changes are made to it.

Paul Kitson stated that the HCA expects to deliver initial Phase 2 housing in 2019.

Phase 1 Planning Applications
Gallagher have recently submitted three planning applications for a) Local Centre Square (to lie between the B1050 and the Phase 1 shops and Community Centre), b) Drainage swales and c) Waterpark (a very large balancing pond). There will be a later application to deal with the shops and parking around the Local Centre Square. The Waterpark is designed to cater for a 1:200 year flood, + 30% to allow for Climate Change. As a result of these works there has been a worrying reduction of water level on the Northstowe site. Normally at this time of year it would be under water but currently it is several metres below normal. It is permitted to “dewater” the site by pumping out water, in order to lay sewers and land drains in soil that is not saturated but it is important that the normal levels are restored very soon in order to minimise environmental damage to local ponds etc.

Phase 1 Primary School
This is expected to be completed on schedule at Easter time. Unfortunately the delay in Phase 1 housing means that it will not have an immediate use, but the County Council is talking to the Diocese of Ely about finding an interim use for the building.

The anticipated date for the opening of the Secondary School is September 2019. It will be a 12 Form Entry school.

Phase 1 Update
First houses are expected Q1 2017. The current B1050 works are will finish early Feb.
The Hattons Road ponds are designed to mitigate flooding in Longstanton, not to prevent it. Table 9.1 of the Flood Risk Assessment document gives the figures. It is anticipated that for 6 months, starting in spring, 12 lorries will each transport 2 or 3 loads per hour of 8.5 m3 from 8am – 6pm daily. This soil will go onto the Phase 1 site in sections and be compacted prior to house construction starting section-by-section. There will be wheel washing at both ends of the journey. Access to the Phase 1 site will be via the Golf Course roundabout, not off the Northstowe stretch of the B1050.

So in fairness I should acknowledge that I was wrong recently to pour scorn on Gallagher’s projections of Q1 2017 for first housing delivery, because it is just possible that they achieve this target. A hint of caution is necessary about their plans. As yet no builders have been announced for Phase 1 and without them the dates for home completions will continue to slip. However, the good news for Longstanton is that the flood mitigation measures are proceeding regardless.

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