The deadline for comments to planners at South Cambridgeshire Planning Department is 4 January.
The Ickleton Society Committee will be objecting to the application for an AgriTech Hub on land at Hinxton. We urge as many people as possible to respond to the planners by the deadline. Here, in brief, are some of our concerns that you might share. Please write in your own words. You can respond online at http://plan.scambs.gov.uk/swiftlg/apas/run/wphappcriteria.display (search for S/4099/17/OL), by e-mail to email@example.com or letter to Planning Department, South Cambridgeshire Hall, Cambourne Business Park, Cambourne, Cambridge, CB23 6EA. Please quote reference S/4099/17/OL.
- The site is not allocated for development in the current Local Plan for South Cambridgeshire or the Draft Local Plan to 2031.
- The Local Plan(s) aims to protect open countryside and, in particular, good quality agricultural land. 49% of the site is Grade 2 and 3a land.
- The definition of AgriTech is very wide so this is likely to amount to nothing more than a business park. In the Planning Statement they list only 3 potential tenants – a food hub (essentially a food distribution centre) and 2 start-up businesses.
- The application includes lots of references to the benefits of clusters and collaborative working between agritech firms. Given the range of businesses within agritech is this really true? They also make much of links to nearby science research parks but there is little or no overlap between their work and agritech.
- There are other brownfield sites and under-utilised and vacant buildings around Cambridge where these agri-tech businesses could be sited.
- This would be a very large development – employment space 3 times that of the expanded Babraham Research Park. Some 3 storey buildings (13.5m but point features could add another 5m) and the rest 2 storeys (9m with point features of up to another 5m). Given the open nature of the landscape these would surely still be very visible in spite of an earth bund and planting around them.
- Will lead to increased urbanisation. Green space south of Sawston should be preserved.
- Detrimental impact on the setting of the listed Hinxton Grange, listed buildings in Hinxton including the Church, and the Hinxton conservation area.
- The site includes groundwater protection zones. They may be able to protect the quality of groundwater but there will still be a reduction in water reaching the aquifer from which Cambridge Water draws drinking water even with permeable surfaces to car parks and water holding ponds.
- Rat running through Ickleton and the impact of development on it has been underestimated.
They have only to have looked at rat running associated with the Genome Campus and not the whole picture. They have concluded that their proposed improvements to the MacDonald’s roundabout would mean no increase in traffic via Hunts Road Duxford or New Road Hinxton.In October 2014 Ickleton Parish Council, with County Highways, undertook a traffic survey in the village which showed:
- Abbey Street – total average weekday traffic movements 3841 (morning peak hour 479, evening peak hour 486);
- Frogge Street – total average weekday traffic movements 3295 (morning peak hour 369, evening peak hour 410);
- Brookhampton Street – total average weekday movements 1039 (morning peak hour 134, evening peak hour 114).
The majority of this traffic is travelling between Uttlesford and the M11 J10 but some is also going through Ickleton to New Road Hinxton and the Genome Campus. SmithsonHill project an increase in traffic on the A1301 south of the A505 of 68%. With a new roundabout on the A1301 at the site entrance and a traffic light controlled crossing near Hinxton, we think drivers are still likely to worry about potential hold ups on the main roads and even more may come through Ickleton. During construction there would be a lot of disruption which is likely to push traffic through the villages.
- The majority of employees will have to travel some distance to the site. SmithsonHill assume a significant shift to walking, cycling and public transport.They state that it would be fairly easy to walk from Ickleton and show the route along the road to Hinxton or through the field to the level crossing. 40 to 45 minutes? No footpaths along the road. Muddy field in poor weather. Alternative is to cross the railway at Mill Road and go through the wetlands. All routes largely unlit at night.
They state that the walk from Whittlesford Parkway station to the site would be 20 minutes. We think this is an underestimate and it would be too far for many people, particularly in bad weather.
Cyclists have to carry bikes over the footbridge at Whittlesford Parkway station – Network Rail has stated it is not possible to provide a cycle ramp over the bridge without replacing the whole bridge. That and bad weather would deter cyclists though SmithsonHill are also promising cycle hire from the station.
A bus interchange close to Whittlesford Parkway might make travel by rail more attractive but employees will still have to get to a station from home. If they have to drive, bearing in mind the high cost of parking at or near to stations, we think it is most likely that they will drive all the way to the site. Similar considerations apply to travel by bus.
They have proposed extending the route of the number 7 bus from McDonald’s roundabout to the site and back adding 21 minutes to journey times to Sawston and Cambridge.