10,000-home project at Northstowe in balance after £1.1bn road-widening project is put on hold

The government’s decision to put the £1.1bn A14 road-widening project on hold could scupper a 10,000-home prototype eco-town at Northstowe, along with other major schemes around Cambridge.

The decision means the areas earmarked for growth around the city will not have the expected transport capacity, meaning planners could be prevented from allowing them to go ahead.

As well as the Northstowe development, being promoted by a joint venture between Gallagher Estates and the Homes and Communities Agency, the decision could affect a 1,800-home

Barratt scheme to the north of the city.

Last week the A14 project, to be undertaken by a consortium of Costain and Skanska, was one of 12 to be put on hold by the government until the autumn spending review. A further 12, including construction of the Stonehenge visitor centre and a £450m hospital in Teesside, were cancelled completely.

Peter Studdert, director of joint planning for the Cambridgeshire Growth Area, said the decision could have “potentially serious implications” for Northstowe and the Barratt site, which it is developing in conjunction with land owner, the National Institute for Agricultural Biology (NIAB).

He said: “The Highways Agency has told us that Northstowe depends upon the A14 being improved. They’ve also indicated to us that only 350 homes on the NIAB site can be occupied until the improvements are made.”

The Highways Agency has the ability to veto development if it thinks it will overload the trunk road network through serving an Article 14 notice. Studdert said the agency hadn’t specifically threatened to serve an Article 14 yet. “If the scheme is declined then we’ll have to go back and talk to the Highways Agency about what they’ll do.”

Barratt’s application is due to go to committee next month.

John Williamson, development director at Cambridgeshire Horizons, the local housing delivery vehicle, said: “There are sites that could be affected but we’ll have to review the situation after the spending review.”