Archive for Waterbeach Barracks

Local Plan update

337970_331638470204366_27116807_oLocal Plan Update

 The Local Plan meeting was a close vote, far closer than expected – 21 to 27 with 5 abstentions. At the meeting I spoke firmly against the proposed town and made many inventions during the meeting. Indeed I put forward an amendment that we should just build on the built area of the barracks – this could help meet the housing need sooner, help the local economy quicker and protect the local farmland. Cllr Sebastian Kindersley kindly seconded my amendment. Sadly the amendment was not allowed as it would be a ‘major change’! Many Councillors spoke of their concern about the Waterbeach town with the scale and infrastructure challenges. Our vision of a smaller scale development on the built area of the barracks is growing in support all the time. Thank you to everyone that came to the meeting. Our message and case are winning over people all the time.

Today I have received news that the Planning Inspector has been appointed with the hearings not expected to be any sooner than July. So this will be the next stage in the process. I have already started in earnest speaking to many local people and doing a lot of behind the scenes work to press our community cause.

 If you are on Facebook please visit the ‘No New Town’ Facebook page www.facebook/waterbeachbarracksnonewtown. There are also the Keep Waterbeach Rural and Waterbeach Voice pages as well.

This has been a long fight – the MoD confirmed back in 1998 that they wanted to sell the Barracks land. That is why we had to defeat the town concept before on three separate occasions. During those 14 years I have consistently and firmly opposed the town.

 

The commuter town, flooding and Waterbeach

fieldsYesterday I attended the Planning Policy and Localism Portfolio Holder meeting to fight for my community. This was the first part of three key stages of the Local Plan (the others will be Full Council March 13th & the Independent Planning Inspector in the autumn).

The Local Plan is very significant to my local community due to the proposals to build a town on the former Barracks site and adjacent farmland to the rail line. The fight against the town has been going since the MoD desired to realise the asset value of the land in 1998. The community has fought off the threat three times before – 2008, 2004, and 2001. The last two (and current one) I have led the community campaign.

At the Portfolio meeting I made three interventions. The first was to challenge on the capacity of the A10 (the main road through the ward and the only road that would serve a proposed town. I stated that the A10 was a key reason why the town proposal had been rejected three times before. That already the road backs up to Waterbeach from the Milton roundabout. I asked what specific improvements are planned for the A10 and what extra capacity could that provide.

In addition I asked about the City Deal funding which would be part of infrastructure spending – what would happen if the City Deal did not come forward.

My main intervention I tried my utmost to cover as much ground as possible in the three minute speaking slot!;

The good news; I welcome that the plan includes creating greenbelt along the Bannold Road farmland as we have seen flooding and the awful situation of sewerage backing up into homes due to the treatment plant being full.That is about as far as the good news goes.

That said we are looking to build on an even greater area of farmland as part of the town proposal.

In the report the consultation responses are 10% in favour, 90% against. Yet if you look at the meeting papers the weighting is disproportionate. Also ‘other objectors’ includes the two neighbouring parish councils – Landbeach and Milton. Landbeach is only the other side of the road to the barracks.

Great store is put in the reports to what the Environment Agency has to say about flood risk. An organisation where the public confidence has been shaken. Yet the local experts – Waterbeach Level Internal Drainage Board are classed as ‘other objectors’. They have made serious objections and anything to do with flow rates or any new discharge of the water course will need their consent. Yet despite this no changes have been made or addressed in the ‘minor changes’ section – which only runs to half a page.

Much of the report only addresses major issues to the Area Action Plan and thereby in effect I would suggest, putting into the long grass.

The primary documents only have 7 pages, 7 pages for a town proposal, of which only 2 1/2 pages for assessments. I am still awaiting a response from officers on the methodology of how the consultation responses were considered. 

Will the housing meet the local need or be for commuters. Only 1 line on Page 78 relates to this, saying ‘some’ will be bought by commuters to London. How many is ‘some’?

The transport strategy is an aspirational document. The A10 road is overcapacity and there are no firm figures/proposals on how capacity would be improved.

There is no mention in the report of mitigation for the neighbouring villages in my ward – Landbeach & Chittering.

No evidence has been offered on the site/housing need after the current local plan.

One major objection where there is no response or mention of what so ever is with contamination of the barracks site.

I will now cover some areas on legal areas for the legal officer to consider;

Ultra Vires

You are taking a decision on the current local plan for 1,400 homes, yet you are looking at 8-9000 houses – so are seeking to create a binding effect on future local plans. This could be considered within the law of ‘improper purpose’.

With the law of ‘improper purpose’ is ‘control of discretion’. I would cite (1) the disproportionate weighting between supporters and objectors in the paperwork. (2) The lack of provided methodology with the consultation responses. (3) Major issues such as the A10, contamination, drainage not addressed sufficiently or at all in the assessment document. 

The ‘no evidence’ rule in law. Within the substantial amount of meeting papers produced for the meeting only 7 pages are about Waterbeach of which only 2 1/2 pages relate to assessments. Is this adequate to make a decision on?

Within Judicial Review ‘right to reasons for a decision’. Only one line on Page 78 about the smaller options.

Now I would like to end on an optimistic note. I accept that there is a housing need. But I would like to put forward an alternative vision. You say you need to build 1,400 houses within the Local Plan for Waterbeach. Why not just build those on the built area of the barracks. The infrastructure is there especially in terms of drainage. That would save the farmland. You still meet the housing need, yet on a smaller scale, instead of the 8/9000 house town, just the 1,400 on the built area of the barracks could be brought forward sooner, this would help with the housing need in Waterbeach and support the local economy. If you are a listening Council this would be more welcomed by the community, if you proceed with the town the community will continue to fight you on this. Let’s go with the alternative vision on a smaller scale.

It was very flattering to have many Councillors come up to me in the break and congratulate me on the speech made. Well known Councillor and Independant Deborah Roberts praised my intervention in her speech that followed.

I now look to the Full Council meeting of March 13th.

 

Taking to the airwaves – the fight against the town

IMG-20140204-02364In the last 24 hours I have taken part in four media interviews to make the community case – including ITV Anglia, Heart FM Cambridge, Star 107.9FM and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

This is just part of my efforts over the years firmly oppose the town concept and fight for the best interests of the community.

Our facebook campaign page continues to receive record support – now reaching 650 likes. www.facebook.com/waterbeachbarracksnonewtown

Next week South Cambs District Council will consider the Local Plan at the Planning Policy and Localism Portfolio Holder meeting on February 11th. The draft Local Plan includes the proposal for 8-9,000 houses on Waterbeach Barracks and the adjacent farmland to the train line. Within this are 1,400 proposed houses in the current plan period, most likely to be 2026-2031. This has been an issue for over 15 years, starting when the last Government announced plans to realise the asset value of the land back in 1998.

More housing is needed and something must happen to the Barracks land. Many residents have said why not just build the 1,400 homes proposed in the current plan as a village extension on the built area of the barracks and leave it at that. This would meet the housing need in the current local plan, could be brought forward sooner and support the Waterbeach economy. As we have seen with Northstowe – not only are these proposals unpopular with the local communities, but they take a significant amount of time to bring forward. Oakington Barracks has now been derelict for 15 years without a house delivered!
This has been a long community fight. Personally I have been leading the campaign with the community for over ten years now. We will continue to press the many key issues why a town is not sustainable or suitable – including; the A10 being overcapacity, flooding, loss of agricultural land, protecting the village identity – just some of the many reasons why the town has been rejected three times before.

Waterbeach and the Local Plan update

Local PlanLocal Plan Consultation/ Waterbeach Barracks

Once again, thank you to everyone that has responded to the Local Plan consultation. All the representations received to the Local Plan during the consultation held between July and October 2013 can be seen on the South Cambridgeshire District Council website, together with the name of the person or organisation making the comments. If you want to find out what others have said about a particular policy or site you can either: (1) Look at the online Proposed Submission Local Plan - in the contents list, click on the part of the plan that you are interested in.  The representations made against each section can be viewed by clicking on the magnifying glass found to the left of the words of the policy/paragraph.  This will show you all the representations made against that part of the plan. (2) By searching representations – you can use this to find out what others have said about the plan by searching for a person or organisation, or on individual parts of the plan.

 What happens next?

At a meeting on February 11th, the South Cambridgeshire District Council Planning Policy and Localism Portfolio Holder will consider the issues raised in representations and assess whether the plan is ready for submission to the Secretary of State for examination. If anything more than minor changes need to be made to the plan it would require a further round of public consultation which would extend the Local Plan adoption timetable. If the Portfolio Holder considers that the plan is ready to submit for examination, she will recommend to a special meeting of full Council to be held on March 13th that it agrees to the submission of the Local Plan for independent examination. Once the Local Plan is submitted, an independent planning inspector will be appointed to hold an examination to consider the ‘soundness’ of the Local Plan. This will include considering the representations received by the Council to the recent consultation and holding a series of public hearings where the Inspector considers that more information is needed. If the Council agrees in March 2014 to submit the Local Plan, it is anticipated that the examination hearings will be held in summer/autumn 2014.

 Support for the campaign

We have received fantastic support for the campaign to oppose Waterbeach Barracks and the adjacent Farmland becoming a new town. This includes record support for the ‘No New Town’ Facebook page www.facebook/waterbeachbarracksnonewtown

This has been a long fight – the MOD confirmed back in 1998 that they wanted to sell the Barracks land. That 337970_331638470204366_27116807_ois why we had to defeat the town concept before on three separate occasions in the last 14 years. During those 14 years I have consistently and firmly opposed the town.

Housing need

There is a need for more housing. I have for instance supported schemes like Walnut Close in Landbeach which provided many homes to those with a local connection. It is clear that the barracks cannot remain derelict, but whatever happens must complement and benefit the local area. It takes a substantial amount of time for a project like a town to come forward. Oakington Barracks has now been closed for 15 years, yet we are still waiting for the Northstowe development. The proposals for Waterbeach state that it would be at least 2026 before we see any houses. Many of you have said it would be better to build homes just on the built area of the barracks. This would help meet the housing need sooner and support the local economy.

We are, as a community, at our best when we are united on such an important issue. I look forward to working with you all on this and many other issues in 2014.

 

Waterbeach and the Quantum question

Look East interviewNow you may ask what am I going on about in the headline.

The issue of key importance to the local area and economy is what will happen to the former Army Barracks in Waterbeach. For me the debate has moved on – in the past when we fought of the town threat, the site was an active base. Now the debate is what happens to the derelict site. Which is where the quantum (a term used in the housing industry for the level of homes on a site). The concept of a town (8-9,000) houses, similar to the City of Ely is a quantum too high for the local community, not least when we want to protect the identity of Waterbeach and that the A10 is over capacity.

One point that is often overlooked is that the former Barracks would only make up half the site with the rest on farmland. No wonder the town has been rejected three times before.

This week I was interviewed by BBC Look East to make this case. I have long argued that a development on a smaller scale on the built area of the barracks would mean houses coming forward sooner. Which would be good news for those in housing need and a boost for the local economy that has been impacted by the Barracks closure.

 

Growing the Waterbeach economy since the Barracks closure

Shop LocalThe Waterbeach economy has faced a challenging time since the closure of the Barracks earlier in the year. Most businesses have felt the impact so it is more important than ever that the local community supports the local shops.

‘Shop Local’ campaign: The scheme is continuing to grow and receive great support. Local Shops are displaying the ‘Shop Local’ campaign poster. Most significantly the Facebook page www.facebook.com/shopwaterbeachward (that was set up in February 2012) has, for the first time, received over 1,000 visitors a week. I am in the process of organising a summit meeting with local shopkeepers on how to grow and improve the scheme.

Interest in former MoD properties: Annington are continuing to refurbish the ex MoD properties apace. 50% of the first tranche (total: 99 homes) are refurbished with 10% occupied and rented. Of the second tranche that are to be sold, the first release of 18 three bed homes have already been snapped up.

The local shops in Waterbeach are such a vital part of our local economy. This is why the ‘Shop Local’ scheme is so important and I have been delighted to see increasing support for it. Waterbeach is a large community and together we can get through this challenging time. But it is clear that our village does need to grow. So I am delighted to see the ex MoD properties are starting to be occupied – the more people, the more business for our local shop keepers. Whilst I am open to the idea of more housing, I do not believe that a town – with the first potential house at least 13 years away would help the local economy of Waterbeach. A smaller scale development of housing on the built area of the Barracks could be brought forward sooner and boost the local economy. Whatever does happen to the land will be many years away which is why I will continue to work hard to help the local economy now.

Waterbeach to have say on proposed Town tomorrow

The Local Plan Exhibition will be at Waterbeach School tomorrow (Thursday) 2.30pm-7.30pm.

This is a great opportunity for Waterbeach residents to have their say and to find out more about the proposals. Clearly this is a major issue for the local area and it is important that local residents take part to ensure their views are known.

Already we have seen that the community messages are getting through with the town housing numbers being reduced and a separation between Waterbeach and the proposed town factored in. However, that said the town proposal still remains with all the infrastructure challenges. We do need more housing and something must happen to the Barracks land as it can’t remain derelict. But whatever happens must be complementary and beneficial to the local area.

The draft Local Plan consultation started on Friday and will run through to September 30th. This includes the proposal for 8-9,000 houses on Waterbeach Barracks and the adjacent farmland to the train line. Within this are 1,400 proposed houses in the current plan period, most likely to be 2026-2031.

Rally 10The community ‘No New Town’ page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/waterbeachbarracksnonewtown

Pictured left is the last campaign rally in Waterbeach.

Local Plan – Chance for Waterbeach to have its say

Local PlanThe South Cambs District Council draft local plan is due to go out to consultation. This will include consulting on a potential town of 8-9000 houses on Waterbeach Barracks and the adjacent farmland across to the train line. Within this are 1,400 proposed houses in the current plan period, most likely to be 2026-2031. All of the other Waterbeach sites in the previous two consultations have been removed.

This will take place over the summer and will give residents a chance to learn more about the proposals and ensure that their views are heard. The consultation will run between Friday 19 July and Monday 30 September.

Representations can be made online at www.scambs.gov.uk/ldf/localplan and fifteen public exhibitions are also planned so residents can speak to officers to find out more. This includes Waterbeach School, July 25th 2.30pm-7.30pm. There was also a two page article in the latest South Cambs magazine which you should have received or see the online version; http://www.scambs.gov.uk/content/current-issue-magazine p42/43.

Local Plan & Waterbeach – next steps update

Local Plan & Waterbeach – next steps update

Draft Local Plan agreed for consultation:
I attended the South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) Cabinet meeting on Thursday who approved the draft local plan to go out to consultation. This will include consulting on a potential town of 8-9000 houses. Within this are 1,400 proposed houses in the current plan period, most likely to be 2026-2031. So it is very likely that not a brick will be laid for over a decade. If a town does happen it could be 30-50+ years away. This will certainly mean that the community is in a generational campaign on the town issue. This has been an issue for 15 years now. This all started when last Government announced wanting to realise the asset value of the land in 1998.

Recent meetings and making the community case:
At the meetings of SCDC Cabinet on Thursday, SCDC Portfolio Holders meeting on June 11th and Workshop 4 meeting ‘How Many Homes? Where? and Last Issues for the Plan’ May 14th, I made clear the concerns of the community and the opposition to the town concept. This is in addition to many phone calls, e-mails and face to face discussions at SCDC.

Our campaign and messages are getting through:Rally 10
It is clear that all our campaign efforts does mean our messages are getting through. 1. We have now seen the town concept reduced in size twice from 12,750 to 10,500 and then 10,500 to 8-9000 houses.
2. A key concern has been to protect the identity of our village – Waterbeach. The draft local plan would create a greenbelt separation between Waterbeach and the proposed town if it did come to pass. 3. There would also be a separation to the north of the site for the Denny Abbey Farm Museum which is a scheduled ancient monument. 4. All other proposed local plan sites for Waterbeach have been removed from the draft.

Proposed town still remains:
Whilst these mitigations are welcome, it does not get away from the town concept and the significant infrastructure constraints and challenges. As you know I have been fighting the RLW town proposals for over 10 years now – including launching the last three petition campaigns.

Having your say;Local Plan
We now move into the consultation process over the summer and this will give residents a chance to learn more about the proposals and ensure that their views are heard. The consultation will run between Friday 19 July and Monday 30 September.
Representations can be made online at www.scambs.gov.uk/ldf/localplan and fifteen public exhibitions are also planned so residents can speak to officers to find out more. This includes Waterbeach School, July 25th 2.30pm-7.30pm.
There was also a two page article in the latest South Cambs magazine which you should have received or see the online version; http://www.scambs.gov.uk/content/current-issue-magazine p42/43

I hope this is helpful. Any questions let me know.

Waterbeach Barracks update

Waterbeach Barracks site closure

The closure took place on Thursday (March 28th) with the MOD handing over the site to DIO (Defence Infrastructure Organisation) who have a security team on site.

My understanding is the site will be put up for sale by 2015.

Waterbeach Barracks ‘No New Town’ campaign update

I will of course continue to work hard with the local community to fight the idea of a new town and to protect our local rural identity. Indeed I have been campaigning with the community for over ten years now. It is so important we keep our united front. This will probably continue to be a long term campaign. To this end please see the blog post on March 30th by the Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, Cllr Nick Clarke http://nickclarkeconservative.wordpress.com/ which shows the many obstacles that would have to be overcome in terms of the proposed RLW (Royal London Waterbeach) new town concept. This includes, in his view, that upgrading both the A10 and A14 would be required. The infrastructure challenges, mean that, for good reason, the RLW developer’s new town idea has been rejected three times before.

Case Study – Oakington Barracks / Northstowe

You only have to look at the fact Oakington Barracks has been derelict for 14 years now – the site of the proposed Northstowe Town. This shows how long and difficult it can take to bring forward such a large development.

Even more reason that we find a use(s) for the site which are beneficial and complementary to our community. This represents the view of the vast majority of residents surveyed who have said they don’t want a town nor the barracks left derelict. We must ensure that we, as a community, we are in the driving seat shaping the future use(s) of the land.

Local Plan Process

The local plan process which District Councils have to complete is ongoing. This is to create a plan for the housing need in the District over the next 30 years. A draft of the local plan will go out for consultation in the summer. A submission to the Secretary of State will take place Dec 2013/Jan 2014. In the Spring/Summer 2014 there will be a Public Examination. Then in spring 2015 the District Council will look to adopt the plan.

‘No New Town’ Facebook page

The facebook campaign page has been getting a lot of visits. Please visit the campaign page for updates; www.facebook.com/waterbeachbarracksnonewtown

This will likely continue to be a long term fight for our community, let’s continue the united campaign.