Waterbeach New Town Community Forum: 26 February 2020
This Waterbeach New Town Community Forum meeting took place on the 26 February 2020.
1) Urban and Civic - Update
2) RLW Estates - Update
Urban and Civic update
Caroline Foster and Rebecca Britton from Urban and Civic provided an overview and a brief update as to where they are in their process.
They started by providing a reminder of their application and three-tiered approach to planning consent. Tier 1: Outline planning application, section 106 agreed and phase 1 defined. Tier 2 defines the framework within which each phase is delivered, so currently focusses on the first phase. Tier 3 covers Reserved Matters Applications, for example. for the Primary School or individual Housebuilder parcels. These have to evidence they are in line with and delivering the conditions and guidance set in Tier 1 and 2 planning.
Each phase will be monitored by various progress and delivery groups 2 of which have had their first meeting being (a) education and (b) transport review group. These groups will also help shape the details and timing of future phases.
Urban and Civic continue to have multiple meetings with local groups and stakeholders feeding into design. The condition lists, to be completed before building works start, includes strategies look at drainage, key surface water and sustainability amongst others.
Caroline then went into some detail regarding the first phase and the infrastructure and facilities that will come with it. Phase 1 will include: 1600 homes, transport infrastructure, primary school, health provision, a community facility, open space and sports provision. She confirmed that cycle-and-walk-first principles will be present from the start of phase 1. They are in consultation with the Parish Council and Neighbourhood Plan Group regarding fears of “rat-running” from the A10 through the site into Waterbeach and these will be combated by introducing cycle and walkways early and co-designing solutions with residents that reflect this within the village.
Urban and Civic are currently looking at the re-use of the current barrack’s buildings. There are lots of possible sporting opportunities and they would like to open the lake as soon as possible. GB triathlon and other water sports have visited the site along with Living Sport and local groups to explore opportunities. Caroline highlighted the fact that they have existing facilities that are open to the community, and much used, and they are looking to start taking down fencing and opening up the space.
She reiterated that Rebecca and herself have an "open door" policy and if anyone had any concerns, they are more than happy to invite them onto site and talk these through.
Urban and Civic are working on their woodland management strategy with the Wildlife Trust and Forestry Commission. There are 24 hectares of woodland that will go into a management strategy agreed with the Forestry Commission. This includes trees that are in poor health, including ash dieback, that will be removed and replaced. The management and some thinning out of the trees will also promote biodiversity. Caroline stressed no healthy trees will be removed from site and multiple trees will be planted throughout. Urban and Civic will plant a further 17,000 trees in key phase 1 and this work will be started in the autumn.
Rebecca described the landscape work along the A10 which will create a band going along the Car Dyke corridor in a loop to create a transport route for walking and cycling and will also double-up as an ecological home for wildlife, for example, bats.
Multiple new waterways (SUDS) will be created which will carry up to 68,000m3 of water via a 1km network of ditches. Rebecca explained the intention of planting resilient tree species to cope with storms, disease and warming in the hopes of promoting biodiversity and sustainability throughout the site.
First phase to focus on area highlighted by early investigations and geophysical testing. This work has already begun and in coming months will involve work with community groups and school involvement, and will continue until July. Operation Nightingale is a government initiative that undertakes archaeological fieldwork with military veterans, and Urban and Civic are signed up and using the site to this end.
Rebecca outlined the Community initiatives and projects they have coming up. Work has started on the building intended for the Waterbeach Toddler Playgroup; they are holding a running festival on 16 May which will include a couch-2-5k; a repeat of their outdoor cinema event in May (date is to be decided); there will be a 514 Squadron reunion in June and the Barracks will host the Summer at the Beach Arts events each weekend in July. She appealed to anyone interested to get in touch and be added to the mailing list for more info and if anyone had ideas for more events, they would be more than happy to hold them on site.
Jobs and Skills
Urban and Civic are engaging with the local Job Centre, Schools and community groups as part of their Jobs and Skills program. A series of sessions have been set up with Waterbeach Action for Youth and they have also met with Cottenham Village College. They are keen to draw in the voice of young people to help design elements of the development and also keen to demonstrate to young people the vast opportunities there are in their development and the route to careers there. They are looking at shared apprenticeships in construction with the CITB and, as part of their careers programme, will look at competitions for construction and design elements that go into new community.
Rebecca requested support for their Big Sleep Out event on 20 March which forms part of their City Homelessness Project. For information on this and all other events, Rebecca urged residents to sign up to their newsletter on their website.
Caroline confirmed that they have secured a loan from Homes England which will enable key construction works in June 2020 by starting the first roads and utilities.
- Archaeology - now until July 2020
- Woodland management - now until March 2021 Reserved Matters applications potential timeline:
- First primary school - Summer 2020 with school likely to open in December 2022
- First homes - Autumn to Winter 2020 with first occupants expected early 2022
Nick Dines and Matt Clark gave an update on the progress of their application and presence on site.
Nick started by explaining that RLW Estates is a consortium of 3 companies: Turnstone Estates, Royal London Asset Management and St John's College.
RLW Estates submitted their planning application back in May 2018. There were 2-3 revisions: March 2019, December 2019 and January 2020. Their development will consist of 4,500 homes and be to the right of Urban and Civic’s.
Nick highlighted 3 main character areas; Fenland Parks to the north, the Fensteads in the middle and the Station Quarter to the south, all linked through the middle by Bannold Drove.
The Fenland Parks will be situated to the north of Bannold Drove and cover an area of 80 hectares. It will have multiple functions, including sports pitches, allotments and orchards, as well as creating a wetland habitat similar to Wicken Fen with 15,000 - 20,000 trees being planted.
The Fensteads will contain the main living area with streets and spaces designed in a more traditional way. Here you will see car free routes with sociable streets and Nick put an emphasis on cars not being "banned", but rather being kept to the edges of the development to allow for greater social and community interaction within. Bannold Drove will run through the heart of these Steads, flanked on either side by 2kms of cycle path and ditches. These will also act as a link to heritage and social functions as well as landscape drainage by discharging into the river Fen.
The Station Quarter makes up the final character area of the site. It will be a mixed use urban quarter and home to the newly relocated train station that will overlook a community square. This quarter will have a range of different uses from leisure, to residential. Nick confirmed that they are working to create access via Bannold Drove and Cody Rd using multiple modes including motor, walking and cycling and they are continuing discussions with our council and Urban and Civic about access across the Barracks land.
Nick and Matt confirmed they are working towards a December 2020 opening date for the new station but are not in a position to comment further on its delivery. They are currently working tirelessly on their outline planning application and hope to have consent very soon. Nick and Matt quoted 2024 for first residential completions.
- How can our council contemplate allowing the application in its current form (RLW Estates) since it manifestly does increase flooding risk in some areas and will affect some existing residents? There was a lengthy discussion regarding developers building on flood plains and an article was quoted by the Head of The Environment Agency, stating that building new homes on flood plains should be resisted if at all possible and where there were no alternative homes, should be made more resilient, for example by using ground floors for garages so people stay safe upstairs. RLW Estates responded by stating their application was supported by a flood risk assessment which takes into account flood risks and the impact of climate change. RLW agreed to bring flood engineers to the next forum in May, in order to explain some of the more technical aspects of the assessment.
- South Cambridgeshire District Council Shared Planning was also asked how they can contemplate allowing the application in its current form since it does increase flooding risks in some areas. Chris Cater, Strategic Sites Manager at South Cambridgeshire District Council, explained that planners will be required to provide a detailed report and will take advice from key stakeholders ie Environment Agency and Drainage Board, before supplying members with a report and making a recommendation.
- Question for RLW Estates - Will there be enough footpaths for the disabled? Matt confirmed that this will form a major part of the development and they absolutely intend to integrate enough accessibility into the site.
- How will you (RLW Estates) design out crime considering all the cars will be kept in the same location making them a target for criminals? Nick and Matt explained that dwellings can be built in such a way that will provide natural surveillance by overlooking parking areas. They will also look at multi-storey car parks as well as CCTV as a deterrent. RLW Estates agreed to take this point away and investigate in more detail.
- What GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) Stage is the railway station at? This created some confusion in the room as to what the definition of “GRIP Stages” is. David Allatt and Tam Parry from County confirmed that the railway station is at Stage 3. GRIP Stage 3 consisted of the option selection process. At the end of this process, a single appraised option will be agreed and recommended, leading to GRIP Stage 4 - single option development.
- What is the timeline for the completion of the access road from the A10? Matt from RLW Estates confirmed that the road was not contingent for permission for the station. Caroline from Urban and Civic confirmed that the call for the haul road is with our council. Once triggered by the District Council, it will take 3 years; 18 months of designing and planning, and 18 months for procurement and build. Residents continued to be concerned given this means the delivery of the road is not in line with the opening of the station and so construction traffic will use Cody road. Jane Williams from the Waterbeach Parish Council confirmed that within the section 106 agreement, the fallback position is to trigger the call for the haul road at the end of phase 1. RLW Estates explained they are coming forward with a Construction Management Plan which will outline exactly where access will be granted for construction traffic.
- Cllr Anna Bradnam called for the Shared Planning team to return to this forum to explain clearly; (a) what the plan is for construction traffic for the new railway station, (b) arrangements for the delivery of the haul road from A10 to RLW land and, (c) why the haul road isn’t being made available in time to build the railway station.
- How will the ditches along Bannold Drove be made safe for children, vulnerable adults and the disabled considering what a long stretch of road this is? RLW Estates confirmed that the safety of residents is one of their key priorities and will endeavour to work with Parish Council on getting this right.
- Urban and Civic were asked to comment on the objections raised by the Waterbeach Parish Council on their concerns around the design code. Urban and Civic were disappointed with the parish council's comments as they feel they have given the parish council plenty of opportunity to engage and consult and it was agreed Urban and Civic would go through the comments at a separate meeting with the parish council.
- How many housebuilders will there be on the Urban and Civic site and will Urban and Civic be a direct commissioner? Urban and Civic explained the parcels are smaller than those widely seen on new developments due to the unique landscape found within the site. There will be 8 parcels north of the lake each with between 80-100 homes. Urban and Civic explained that they have started early conversations with some of their preferred suppliers and they will work closely with house builders on the community buildings. House builders will be expected to submit their own reserve matters applications and be granted separate consent before building.
- I would love an update on local Health Care and the latest position given the current GP is over capacity? Lesley McFarlane of South Cambridgeshire District Council confirmed that she has been in contact with the Clinical Commissioning Group who would like to attend the next forum in order to provide an update.
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