What's next for Thakeham development after Local Plan sites revealed?

The proposed location of the new town which Thakeham is looking to develop in South Cambs

The proposed location of the new town which Thakeham is looking to develop in South Cambs - Credit: Anthony Browne

Proposals for Local Plan sites in South Cambs have been revealed - with the 25,000-home Thakeham development nowhere on the list. 

Since South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council announced proposed locations for their joint Local Plan earlier this month, many have wondered where the Thakeham development is.

The developer has told the Crow "there is significant work to be undertaken before we will be in a position to provide all of the detailed information necessary for a Local Plan representation".

In the Local Plan, development has been earmarked for 6.5 hectares of land west of Cambridge Road, Melbourn. The site would see approximately 120 homes and 2.5ha for employment uses.

Approximately 20 homes have been earmarked for the The Moor, Melbourn - a site area of one hectare. The development would retain existing trees and strengthen the existing landscape buffer at the rear of the site.

Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins, lead member for planning at South Cambridgeshire District Council, said “These first proposals are a serious response to protecting our climate and rural environment while providing for our housing needs now and in the future. In my view this is the greenest Local Plan we have ever put forward.

"Our planners have set a high bar for what makes a site right for development – they considered nearly 900 sites, and have chosen only 19.

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“The government requires us to meet the number of new homes that the evidence is showing us are needed. If we do not, the plan may not be signed off by the government’s planning inspectors, and we may end up having to accept developers’ proposals for homes in locations that could harm the environment.

"And without planning for homes where and when they are needed, we will see increases in house prices, rent and pollution as people will have to travel further. These proposals aim to achieve a greener way of living.”

"Extensive public consultation was also carried out in early 2020, and respondents overwhelmingly said that climate change was the top priority for the plan.

“We want Greater Cambridge to be a place where a big decrease in our climate impacts comes with a big increase in the quality of everyday life for all our communities.

“Our new Local Plan is inspired by what is unique about our area, and embraces the bold new approaches that will help us achieve this vision.”

Thakeham announced plans for 25,000 new homes - a new town and surrounding areas around Barrington, Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth, Foxton, Meldreth, Orwell, Shepreth, Whaddon and Wimpole in December 2020.

It said the development would be the UK’s “first zero-carbon community” and the vision would include 10,000 affordable homes and biodiversity net gain of at least 20 per cent.

At the time of the unveiling Rob Boughton, Thakeham chief executive, said: “We’re delighted to reveal our vision to create the UK’s first truly sustainable new community.

“A zero-carbon place with green transport links, where school and work are readily accessible and community facilities are owned by the local residents.

Formal inclusion of the South West Cambridgeshire proposal was not made during the Local Plans Call to Sites process. So what are Thakeham's next steps?

The Crow asked Thakeham to clarify how they would be proceeding with their proposal.

A spokesperson said: "Thakeham engaged at a very early stage with representatives of various political parties, including the incumbent South Cambridgeshire District Council administration, together with releasing our high-level vision to the public in December 2020 so residents were aware of the emerging proposals at the earliest opportunity.

"Due to the scale of the proposals, and feedback from early engagement, there is significant work to be undertaken before we will be in a position to provide all of the detailed information necessary for a Local Plan representation. 

"We remain wholly committed to working openly and collaboratively with landowners, residents, communities and all levels of government as our proposals for a zero-carbon new community at South West Cambridgeshire continue to evolve.

"We will be making detailed representations to the Local Plan process and will continue to engage with stakeholders through this important process."

See www.southwestcambridgeshire.com.