What started with a 5,000-house development at Great Chesterford (NUGC) has become a triple threat that if allowed to proceed will totally change the area between Saffron Walden and Sawston. Read on and you’ll see how this post could easily be titled “how money talks”.
Wellcome Genome campus has published plans to build 1,500 houses, a hotel, new research laboratories and offices that will be less than half a mile from the northern boundary of the proposed North Uttlesford Garden Community. Initially there was local support for expanding this world-leading research facility; however the sheer scale and seeming commercial opportunism of building so many houses has raised eyebrows and opposition.
At the same time and adjoining the Genome Campus extension, SmithsonHIll is a proposed business park covering 553 acres of arable land, which together with NUGC and the Wellcome expansion means the loss of more than 2,000 acres of countryside. All three developments will use the same narrow single carriageway road for access (A1301/B184). The traffic implications are severe.
The application by SmithsonHIll has been refused on nine different grounds by South Cambridgeshire District Council. The Planning Committee was unanimous. However, the company behind the application has contrived to have the application referred to the Secretary of State in the hopes of having the South Cambs decision overruled. It transpires that the company made a substantial donation to the Conservative party shortly before the planning application was submitted. The question of political financial contributions made to influence government policy is discussed in this illuminating article HOW DEVELOPERS BOUGHT THE TORY PARTY