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News from Hardwick Parish Council

News from Hardwick Parish Council

There was a Parish Council meeting on 28th February which was attended by seven parish Councillors, our District Councillor and a few other residents from the village.

After nearly two years the planning application for 98 new homes off Grace Crescent was ready to be heard by the Planning Committee at South Cambs District Council. During that time the Parish Council had objected to the application but was aware nevertheless that there was a strong possibility that it would eventually be approved. The Parish Council was involved in many discussions over this period with the developers, SCDC and others to mitigate the effect of this new development in areas of traffic, health, transport, education, play facilities and community facilities as well as a construction management plan to protect the residents of Grace Crescent and The Pastures during construction. The Parish Council was not successful in getting everything it wanted. In particular it failed to get any additional health care or GP provisions in the village and attempts to get a new bus service through the village failed. In the first instance NHS England had no interest in supporting healthcare in the village and don’t even turn up for meetings or respond to questions. In the second case this was not supported by Cambridgeshire County Council. It was not for want of trying by the Parish Council, SCDC or the developers.

As the Planning Committee meeting drew near the Parish Council had sight of the Planning Officer’s report for the application that provided no grounds by which the application could be refused. The Parish Council considered everything possible had been done to mitigate the effects of the proposed development and that there was nothing to be gained by continuing its objection. Accordingly the Parish Council resolved to support the application in light of the Planning Officers Report and in consideration of those benefits that would accrue to the village. For anyone interested I recommend that they read the Planning Officer’s report which is on the SCDC website.

Benefits to the village will include a new community centre for the village on the recreation ground, a community minibus, new play areas and footpath improvements between the Blue Lion and Cahill’s corner.

The Planning Committee of SCDC, as expected, approved the outline planning application at its meeting on 1st March. No building will start for at least a year while further details are agreed. We now need to start planning for the new community centre so that it can provide the indoor space and facilities wanted by the residents of Hardwick.

Another major issue for the village is the construction of a new segregated busway from Cambourne to Cambridge which will pass by Hardwick. At its December meeting the Parish Council stated a preference for a segregated busway alongside the St Neots Road with the important proviso that the concerns of the residents of St Neots Road be met as far as reasonably possible. The Parish Council had only considered segregated busways along which it is proposed there will be fast, clean, quiet and regular buses running between Cambridge and Cambourne similar to those running on the Cambridgeshire Busway . At the meeting I asked the Council whether they wished to consider an alternative being simply to run those buses along the existing St Neot’s Road. This was a solution favoured by the Coalition of Parish Councils and the Local Liaison Forum both of which represent the wider public interest in these planning matters. The Council was also aware of the public meeting which was to be held on 7th March. The Council did not reconsider the alternative of an on road solution preferring instead to wait to hear the views of the public meeting and resolved to take note of those at its next meeting on 28th March. The meeting on the 7th March was well attended but will have disappointed many going to that meeting with an open mind wanting to find out more about the proposals. The City Deal team who came to explain the proposals were unable to get the projector to work to show their PowerPoint presentation of how this might impact Hardwick and neither had they provided answers to the 36 questions posed to them before the evening. Both the PowerPoint presentation and the answers to those questions have since been provided. They are available on the village website. The meeting was well attended and up to half expressed a preference for diverting the busway to the north of the A428 with the other half expressing no preference. Concerns were expressed about the effect of the new services on the Citi 4 bus service. The new proposed busway, wherever it is located, could well result in a reduction of the frequency of the Citi4.

Finally on a lighter note our Litter Picker found a banknote in the village towards the end of last year and this has now found its way on to the Parish Council agenda. If anyone has lost a banknote please let me know how much, approximately when and where and I’ll reunite it with you. Otherwise it will go to a worthy cause.

Steve Rose
Hardwick Parish Council

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