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Map showing the proposed site of Northstowe and the route of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.

Northstowe is a proposed new town of 9,500 houses in Cambridgeshire, UK. It is expected to be "an exemplar of sustainability in the use of renewable energy resources and reducing carbon emissions".[1] The Northstowe site is located five miles northwest of the city of Cambridge, between the villages of Oakington and Longstanton and inside the administrative district of South Cambridgeshire. The Northstowe development is being led by the Homes and Communities Agency and the developers Gallagher Estates.[2]

From its inception Northstowe was expected to be a low-carbon development, with the knowledge gained being applied elsewhere in the region. To further this aim, the Northstowe Sustainable Energy Partnership was created to link the developers, the local authorities, the Energy Saving Trust, Renewables East and other parties.[3]

Northstowe will be linked to Cambridge and St Ives by the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.[4]


A lake on the Northstowe development site.

The site covers Oakington Barracks on the former RAF Oakington, a World War II airfield which was used for Short Stirling bomber forces and other assorted units. It was used for flight training until the 1970s.

From 2000 to 2010[5] the barracks was leased to the Home Office for use as the Oakington Immigration Reception Centre.

In the phase one Local Management Study, published in February 2006 it was suggested that a community-based energy company might be formed, owning assets such as wind turbines or combined heat and power plants for the benefit of the town, perhaps based on the models of the Vauban district of Freiburg, Germany, and the cooperative energy companies of Denmark and Sweden. Car clubs, cycling and walking were also envisaged.[6] In March 2006 the site was acquired by English Partnerships.[7]

In March 2007 planning inspectors recommended that Northstowe should consist of 10,000 homes rather than the 8,000 originally planned, and ruled that a country park need not be incorporated. The news was greeted with concern by many in the area who feared further expansion in the future.[8]

In the same month Yvette Cooper, Minister for Housing and Planning Department for Communities and Local Government, announced that Northstowe would be designed with energy and water efficiency standards up to 50% above conventional buildings.[9] On 13 May 2007, Gordon Brown went further, announcing that the housing on the development would be built to zero-carbon building standards if he were elected to succeed Tony Blair as leader of the Labour Party. In response, local Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, David Howarth, called on the Chancellor to allow local authorities to impose zero-carbon standards on other developments too, and to provide a serious investment in public transport for the new eco-towns.[10]

A planning application for the new town was submitted to South Cambridgeshire District Council on 19 December 2007. Plans included the construction of around 9,500 homes, a town centre area, schools and employment areas.

In January 2008, however, Cooper confirmed in Parliament that Northstowe had not been adopted as an eco-town because the planning application "predate[s] the eco-towns programme",[1] and because it would not be zero-carbon.[11]

In November 2008 it was announced that the scheme would be delayed by at least a year due to the Financial crisis of 2007–2010.[12] In March 2008 the Cambridge Cycling Campaign submitted a formal objection to the Northstowe planning application due to the inadequate cycling and walking provision.[13]

In June 2009 the scheme was not included in the first round of schemes to be given the go-ahead because it did not score highly enough for sustainability; only one scheme, Rackheath eco-town, received an 'A' and was approved.[14] In December 2009 it was announced that the scheme was 'back on the government's eco-town list' because elements had been redesigned to meet even higher sustainability standards.[15]

In February 2012 a revised masterplan for the development was submitted. The plan envisages a maximum of 10,000 new homes created in two phases, the first being to the north adjoining the existing Longstanton park-and-ride site and the second on the former barracks. In October 2012, the first phase of the new town was approved by South Cambridgeshire council.[16] The developers aim to start construction in the second half of 2014,[17] with completion envisaged after about 25 years.[18]

In December 2014 the government announced that because of slow progress developing the site, Northstowe could be a test location for a new government directly commissioned homes scheme, overseen by the Homes and Communities Agency.[19]

In the 2015 United Kingdom budget on 18 March 2015, George Osborne announced that the government would create a joint venture with a private sector partner to lead development on the site. Three quarters of the homes started by 2020 will be constructed under a direct contract with the public sector.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hansard, 21 Jan 2008 : Column 1536W, Sustainable Development: Northstowe
  2. ^ | Northstowe || Home
  3. ^ East of England Regional Assembly (November 2005). East of England Draft Plan (PDF). Retrieved 15 May 2007. 
  4. ^ "Guided bus: Highlights of the BBC Cambridgeshire debate". BBC. 2 December 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Oakington immigration centre's future plans", BBC News, 2010-11-11, accessed 2011-07-14
  6. ^ Marilyn Taylor Associates (2 February 2006). Who Runs This Place? Northstowe Local Management Study - Phase One Report. Retrieved 15 May 2007. 
  7. ^ Government land deal will ease Cambridgeshire housing pressure, English Partnerships, published 2006-03-27, accessed 2007-05-15
  8. ^ "Villagers quake as plans for town grow". Cambridge Evening News. 2 March 2007. Retrieved 15 May 2007. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Government Sets Vision for Carbon Neutral Development". Government News Network. May 2007. Retrieved 15 May 2007. 
  10. ^ "MP critical of Brown's Northstowe statement". Cambridge Evening News. 14 May 2007. Retrieved 14 May 2007. 
  11. ^ Meikle, James (16 April 2008). "Clash over Cambridgeshire green town plans". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  12. ^ "Credit crunch holds up prototype eco-town". Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  13. ^ "Cambridge Cycling Campaign » Northstowe". Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  14. ^ "Rackheath eco town given the green light". Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  15. ^ "Northstowe back on Government's eco-towns list". Hunts post. 2009-12-05. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  16. ^ "Northstowe: Councillors approve first phase of new town". BBC News. 24 October 2012. 
  17. ^ "Where will the construction work start and when?",, accessed 2014-08-17
  18. ^ "Planning application for Northstowe submitted". Cambridge News. 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  19. ^ Jim Pickard (2 December 2014). "Ministers propose government-built houses". Financial Times. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "Budget 2015 - The Red Book" (PDF). HM Treasury. 2015-03-18. p. 75. Retrieved 2015-03-21. 

External links[edit]

In the media[edit]

Coordinates: 52°16′N 0°04′E / 52.27°N 0.07°E / 52.27; 0.07