Northstowe Phase 3A outline planning application approved – Town Council’s statement

Published: 31 January 2022

Northstowe Phase 3A outline planning application approved – Town Council’s statement

Text of the statement as presented by the Mayor, Councillor Richard Owen, at the SCDC Planning Committee meeting (on 28th January 2022) on the outline planning application for Northstowe Phase 3A:

“Northstowe Town Council broadly supports the application for Phase 3A. However, this support is subject to strict planning conditions which must be imposed to manage the impact of development on surrounding villages, current and future Northstowe residents and our local environment.

The first and most critical of these is Hydrology and groundwater. Independent studies and our own analysis based on publicly available data has shown that water levels in the gravel seam which runs under Northstowe phase 1 and Longstanton have been badly affected by earlier phases of development in Northstowe. This has resulted in many water features and ponds drying out with loss of habitats, as we have just seen, as well as structural damage to buildings within Longstanton, as noted by Cllr delaMare-Lyon.

Phase 3A sits on that same gravel seam further upstream (so any impact to groundwater levels here will have a knock-on impact, contrary to claims here by the applicant), and as Cllr Dr Williams has noted, the Arcadis impact assessment in the current plans projects a permanent further 2-3m drop in water levels as a result of this development.

We note that drafting of a planning condition has been proposed to monitor the groundwater levels, but we also seek a condition to mitigate this impact through revisions to the drainage strategy and for the impact of the development to be considered beyond just the phase 3a boundaries. Further lowering of the groundwater levels underneath Northstowe and Longstanton will significantly worsen the impact and damage already seen, and we cannot let that happen.

We must also learn the lessons of development in Phase 1 when it comes to phasing of the development. Most residents in Northstowe phase 1 will have to wait until at least 2024 for roads and cycle paths around them to be finished, which is largely due to the sequence the parcels have been built in as well as a lack of access through the southern part of Northstowe for building traffic. Residents in future phases must not be subjected to the same mistakes being made - we recommend a phasing plan which allows primary roads and cycleways to be completed as building is complete, and welcome officers’ comments to add a condition here. An adequate Construction Environmental Management Plan must also be in place before development starts to mitigate the impact of dust and noise throughout construction.

On a positive note, we support the plans for green infrastructure through Phase 3a and the maintenance of a green separation between Northstowe and Oakington, and believe the planned open space will be of benefit to residents from Northstowe and surrounding villages.”

We have the opportunity here to build a green and sustainable town that we can all be proud of - I would encourage the planning committee to take action and impose the conditions we need to make that happen. Thank you.”


Further information:

· The Town Council’s official planning response has further details on the above points raised – this can be found at the online planning portal (search for ‘20/02142/OUT’ and find this under ‘documents’, dated 18 Jan 2022).

· The Full recording of the 28th January 2022 SCDC Planning Committee meeting.

· The planning application for Northstowe Phase 3A has, understandably, brought quite a bit of media interest. Here are the most recent articles published on this:

- 26th January 2022, Cambridge independent, 5,000 homes, three schools and local centre due for approval at Northstowe (

- 29th January 2022, Cambridge News, 4,000 Northstowe homes approved despite water supply and drainage fears - Cambridgeshire Live (

- 31st January 2022, BBC News, Northstowe: Plans for 4,000 new homes backed by council - BBC News 

- 31st January 2022, South Cambridgeshire district Council, Planning permission agreed for 4,000 more homes and facilities at Northstowe - South Cambs District Council (