Education Campus at heart of new application

Alconbury Weald is preparing for its next stage of development, with an application that provides the framework to deliver a secondary and special needs school, the next 1,000 homes, shops and employment space as well as parks and open spaces. The additional development proposed sits to the east of the existing first phase of homes and covers land up to the central part of the historic Cold War runway.

The submission follows on from consultation events in December and partnership working with local authorities and key partners around the next phase of facilities coming forward, including the innovative Education Campus.

The planning application will enable the secondary school, run by the Diocese of Ely Multi Academy Trust – Alconbury Weald Academy – and the Special Needs School Prestley Wood Academy, which will be part of the Spring Common Academy Trust, to come forward. These are currently scheduled for opening in September 2022.

The application will also extend the existing road, cycle and pedestrian network and connect it to the proposed link road coming forward from the A141 to the south of Alconbury Weald. The applications for this link are currently progressing through the planning system.

The plans include a significant amount of remediation around the runway and taxiways along the central area of the site, which will start the transformation and the first phases of the future Runway Park. When fully developed Runway Park will be a central feature at the heart of the development’s central Hub and will be over 24 football pitches long. This first section will bring forward Approach Park, which will provide a 9,000sq m area of green space as the setting for shops and amenities, and provide safe walking, cycling and scooting routes to the secondary school. Alongside the Park, a Campus Square in front of the school will provide a meeting space and high quality setting for the significant Education Campus.

Tim Leathes, Development Director for Urban&Civic, said:

“This application is very much about enabling the next stages of planning, so it is quite technical in nature, but it will enable us to bring forward an exciting next phase of the development, in keeping with the quality of place and facilities delivered so far.

“Crucially it marks the start of connecting up the first phase of development with the southern connection to Huntingdon, and enabling the civic heart of the development to come forward. This includes the Secondary and Special Needs School and the central parkland area, which will emerge from the current concrete runway.

“Alconbury Weald currently has over 200 families moved in and over 100 children at the Primary School. With four housebuilders releasing homes every week, and another joining in the next few weeks, the community is proving a popular location for young families, professional couples and downsizers.

“Alconbury Weald is a busy place at the moment, with the community growing every week. We have a range of new facilities coming forward within phase 1 in the next couple of years including the Cricket Pavilion and Community Centre; the refurbished Listed Watch Office and heritage and community space; and significant landscaping around the Glade, alongside the County Council’s new headquarters. This application continues our commitment to ensuring transport, community and green infrastructure goes hand in hand with homes coming forward, to make this a great place to live, work or visit.”

The broad design approach of this next phase will be in keeping with delivery to date, with an updated Design Code included in the planning application. Delivery of the area will include laying over 4 miles of utilities and water infrastructure.

Further information can be found in the planning application on Huntingdon District Council’s planning portal – ref:19/80094/COND.

Questions and Answers

1. What does the application include?

The next phase of development will include:

• 1,021 new homes
• Education Campus
• 1-2 retail units
• Employment space
• Landscaping and tree planting
• Parks and open spaces

In planning terms it is being progressed as an expansion of the existing Key Phase 1 application, to ensure that there is a consistent approach to the infrastructure, design and facility planning across the area. The Key Phase Application sits underneath the development’s Outline Planning consent, and comes ahead of the Reserved Matters Applications for individual building or infrastructure schemes.

The nature of this application as an extension to Key Phase 1 is reflected in the wording of the planning documents, which effectively updates the existing Key Phase 1 by adding the quantum of the additional development proposed to the existing consented Key Phase consent and the homes currently being delivered on site. Therefore, the application submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council states:

• An increase in housing numbers from 879 to 1,900 dwellings, an addition of 1,021 dwellings;
• An increase in the amount of B1a/b employment floorspace by 5,713m² to include a new employment cluster;
• The introduction of a Secondary School including reserve land for Special Educational Needs, a sixth form and further expansion if the school needs it;
• The addition of a further 2 local play areas along with a number of pocket parks and green infrastructure elements; and
• Addition of a new mixed-use area adjacent to the secondary school to include up to 1,500m² of space allowing a mix of A1-A5, B1a and D1 planning uses which will bring forward shops and local services.

2. When will the secondary school open and what will its catchment area be?

The School is scheduled for opening in September 2022, dependent on the number of pupils coming forward from the development. The catchment area is the new community of Alconbury Weald, and the approach has been developed in partnership with existing secondary schools across the local area.

3. Why is this the expansion of key phase 1 and not key phase 2?

The planning process which underpins the Alconbury Weald approach is quite technical and divides the development into key phases.  Each key phase needs defining and approval by the District Council. As so much of this next phase is similar in design and approach, it was discussed and agreed with the District Council that it would be most sensible to being it forward as an expansion of existing Key Phase 1 rather than a full new key phase. The application will go through the same level of scrutiny, so the difference is mostly a technical planning approach.

4. How will people get to the secondary school?

The application provides for access to the school from both the southern connection from Huntingdon, the Northern Boulevard connection to Alconbury Weald, and from homes within the first phase to access the school directly. It has been located to be close to main road and bus links, but also to have extensive walking and cycling connections.

5. Is this 1,900 additional to the 5,000 homes?

No, this 1,900 is the first 1,900 within the 5,000 homes approved as part of the Outline Planning Permission

6. What type of employment spaces will be there?

As the commercial spaces are located close to homes, the commercial space is envisaged to be offices, light industrial and Research and Development, and will not have high impact users. They will be developed bespoke for businesses looking to move onto Alconbury Weald, with a broad design approach and set of potential commercial uses set out in the Design Code and Development Specification.

7. What are you going to do with the runway?

The runway will initially form part of the link from the A141 to Key Phase 1. However, once the formal strategic route through the site is delivered, it will not be required for this function and will be able to form part of the Campus Park and Runway Park, two of the four Strategic Open Spaces at Alconbury Weald. Parts of the runway will gradually be taken up, broken up, crushed and recycled and reused, with other elements to remain to form part of the parkland designs. There are many thousands of tonnes of material within the runway and taxiways and we have a target of 98% of resources on site being recycled and reused within the new development. The historic lines, and key points within the historic runway will be marked within the future landscaping coming forward. Most of the area will be parkland and public realm, with commercial and retail units and homes around the park area. Part of the runway will be used as a road for a temporary period.

8. How does the Southern Gateway fit into this?

Urban&Civic has four applications submitted to the District Council at the moment, which will enable the road, bus and cycle links to come forward alongside this application. They provide access along part of the existing runway, and new road and connections across Grange Farm to connect with a new roundabout entrance onto the A141, coming out between Spittals and the St Peters Road roundabout. They are designed to be flexible in nature to ensure that those connections are in place throughout the development of the expanded Key Phase 1 area.

9. Will the A141 be able to cope?

The principle of a Southern Gateway was consented under the Outline Planning Permission, on the back of extensive transport assessments and travel planning, and is part of ongoing agreements with the County Council which surveys car trips produced by the development.

10. Where can I found out more and have my say?

Further information can be found in the planning application on Huntingdon District Council’s planning portal – ref:19/80094/COND - where you can also feedback on the application:  A hard copy of the application is available in The Club building, please ask at Reception if you would like to book in for time to review the plans.

HDC Planning Portal