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Waterbeach Development Update

by Barry Platt on 24 March, 2013

Maurice Leeke and Michael Williamson at the Waterbeach Barracks sign

Maurice and Michael at Waterbeach Barracks site

Decisions will soon be made about the future of the barracks site at Waterbeach.  If a major development is allowed there it will have a big impact, not just on Waterbeach, but on Milton and Landbeach as well.

Maurice Leeke is opposed to a new town at Waterbeach.

He supports appropriate redevelopment of the built-up part of the barracks site.  This has been estimated to be large enough for 930 houses, though it could be used for other things too.

But the Conservatives’ proposal for a new town of up to 12,000 houses would be six times as large as Waterbeach is at present.  It would overshadow the village, create a huge increase in traffic locally, and many of the houses would be built on low-lying land with a significant risk of future flooding.

Quite apart from the extra “rat-running” through our villages it is difficult to envisage how the A14 roundabout at Milton would be able to cope with the extra traffic – particularly during the morning rush hour.

Two things that do not seem to have been given sufficient attention are the extent of the proposed new town, and its relationship to the 5 metre contour.  The site does not just include the former barracks – but also a lot of farmland extending northwards to beyond Denny Abbey and eastwards to the railway line.  No justification has been given for grabbing this greenfield land for building on.

The significance of the 5 metre contour becomes clear if you study the ordnance survey maps for South Cambridgeshire.  All of the historical building in villages in the low-lying part of the district stops at that line.  You can see this with Horningsea, Waterbeach, Landbeach, Cottenham, Rampton, Willingham, Over and Swavesey.  Our fore-fathers were not studying the contours on a map, but watching where the flooding reached.  The drainage boards do a great job in keeping fields dry, but increased surface run off, changing weather patterns and rising sea levels increase the risk of flooding.  If a field floods once every ten years it is a nuisance for the farmer.  If a house floods once every ten years it is a catastrophe for the family that lives there (who may be unable to get insurance against the risk, or do so only at enormous cost).

Most of the proposed site is below the 5 metre contour.  It is called Waterbeach for a reason.

Conservatives give the game away

The Conservative leader of the County Council, Nick Clarke, has rather given the game away about his party’s plans for ‘Waterbeach New Town’.  Writing about the need for improvements to the A14 he says the road needs to be upgraded so that new towns can be built at Northstowe and Waterbeach.  It seems that they have already made their decision that Waterbeach New Town will go ahead.  He even goes so far as to say that we should dig into our own pockets to pay for the road, through council tax and a toll to use the road, as well as through general taxation.

Meanwhile the position of local Conservative councillor James Hockney is less than clear.  Back in Waterbeach he claims that he is “fighting to protect the local rural identity”.  But it was he and his fellow Conservative cabinet members who decided that Waterbeach was a suitable site for a new town in the first place.

“James Hockney needs to make his mind up,” said Maurice Leeke.  “Is he supporting the local community, or is he supporting his party’s Waterbeach New Town proposal?”

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