Cambridgeshire councils to set up joint planning team

Two councils have announced plans to set up a joint planning team to push forward work on the stalled 10,000-home Northstowe new town project between Cambridge and St Ives.

The costs of the team, drawing on officers from Cambridgeshire County Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, would be met by joint developers Gallagher Estates and housing and regeneration quango the Homes & Communities Agency, a Cambridgeshire cabinet report said.

It said the team would "allow a clear focus of experienced officers on the project to ensure the planning stages and community involvement are completed efficiently and effectively".

Officers from planning, project management, education planning, transport, highways and urban design were likely to be involved.

South Cambridgeshire said it expected a planning application for the 1,500-home first phase early next year.

The project, on a former military base, stalled when the recession hit in 2008 and faced further difficulties when the government last year abandoned an upgrade to the nearby A14 road on cost grounds.

But the A14 upgrade was reinstated in last week's Autumn Statement and the Northstowe site is already served by the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway, which opened in the summer after nearly two years of delays.

South Cambridgeshire cabinet member for new communities Tim Wotherspoon said: "Northstowe is one of the biggest planning projects anywhere in the country since Milton Keynes was built, and it is vital councils work together to make sure the new town is right for our residents and facilities are second to none".

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