New extensive walking and cycling routes connecting people with nature have opened at Northstowe, as further services and facilities to improve health and wellbeing become available for residents.
Waterpark is latest addition to local facilities at Northstowe
Northstowe’s Northern Greenway and Waterpark have been seeded, planted and are now open for residents to enjoy.
Wildlife has already taken up residence across the Waterpark with birds such as avocets, plovers and lapwings spotted by walkers. Residents are now welcome to walk and cycle around the trails to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. The new Waterpark and Greenway are among the latest local facilities available on the doorstep of Northstowe residents, which South Cambridgeshire District Council has helped secure through the planning process. Northstowe’s first ever Running Festival, attracting hundreds of local runners, took place along the trails on Sunday (5 September 2021).
Meanwhile, rental E-bikes stationed at Northstowe have already covered around 2,600 miles. The eco-friendly bikes, which can be rented via an app, have been ridden for a total of around 870 hours since they were first made available to residents in February. Just under 200 people have already registered to use them, with the bikes so far going out on more than 500 rides.
The bikes, funded by developers L&Q Estates and NHS England’s Healthy New Towns programme, were initially for local people to make essential trips to work or as part of permitted exercise during Coronavirus lockdowns. With restrictions having eased since they first arrived at Northstowe, more residents are now being encouraged to try out the bikes – especially for leisure purposes and to keep active.
They are available to pick up and return to the Northstowe Cycle Hub at Longstanton Park & Ride, and the new bike shelter near Pathfinder Primary School. They are run via a mobile app and credit system. For further details, see https://cambridgeelectrictransport.co.uk/electric-bike/
Elsewhere at Northstowe, back in July 2021 an outdoor gym opened at Pioneer Park. The gym includes a variety of exercise equipment such as a hand bike, cross trainer and pull-up bars. Three schools are now open and serving families in the community – including sports facilities with a cricket club having recently started at the Pathfinder Primary School. Arts pavilions have been installed at the Education campus, to provide a community focus for creative arts. A Community Café has opened at Wing, Northstowe’s community venue, with the number of times it is being hired having returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Additionally, the Western Park pitches are maturing, and some are expected to be opened by the end of the year. Continuing with the physical activity theme, Buggy bootcamp and Catalyst Fit have recently started sessions on Pioneer Park and on The Green, through support from Living Sport’s Active New Communities programme.
Northstowe Town Council is now up and running following its first elections back in May 2021, providing a grassroots local government voice for local people.
Finally, the District Council continues to work with residents and the local businesses community on plans for two future key parts of Northstowe; the Local Centre and Enterprise Zone. This comes after the Council purchased both sites earlier in 2021 in an effort to kickstart the development of their facilities for local people.
The Local Centre is an opportunity for the Council to help shape and bring forward the retail and commercial development. It will create an important meeting place and local facilities such as shops for residents, linking employment and residential areas. The vision is to create an area made up of shops, restaurants, cafes and buildings that are active, vibrant, and safe. A community building will provide a central focus point for this area. The Council envisages that the Enterprise Zone will become an attractive northern gateway to Northstowe, taking advantage of the Guided Busway’s links to Cambridge, St Ives and surrounding villages. The Zone will contain buildings in an attractive landscape setting, providing green links, connections, and places for people to enjoy.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Community Resilience, Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Bill Handley, said: “It’s fantastic to see all of these new opportunities available for the benefit of local residents – particularly when it comes to their health and wellbeing. There are some brilliant outdoor spaces and walking routes available to enjoy. We know how good it is for our physical and mental health to spend time outdoors and in nature, whether it is getting active on the Northstowe E-bikes, using the outdoor gym or walking through the Northern Greenway and Waterpark. We, of course, have three fantastic new schools at Northstowe too – so this really is an increasingly thriving community which I’m sure will continue to be somewhere people want to live, play and – in future, through our efforts to bring forward the Local Centre and Enterprise Zone – work.”
One of the South Cambridgeshire District Councillors for Northstowe, Cllr Sarah Cheung Johnson, commented: “We are so pleased to see the Waterpark and additional greenways being opened up, to provide more recreational and outdoor space for residents from Northstowe and beyond to enjoy. We have particularly enjoyed seeing and sharing photos of the abundant wildlife we’re seeing in Northstowe and know they will be making great use of these newly opened facilities as we go into Autumn and Winter.”
Northstowe Mayor, Town Cllr Richard Owen, added “I am delighted that the Northstowe Waterpark is open; this is a fantastic natural space in the heart of the town. The range of wildlife already spotted around the lakes, including avocets, plovers and lapwings, makes it effectively a nature reserve on our doorstep! In addition, this provides a new network of safe routes for children walking to school and for commuters travelling to the Park & Ride. As a council, we’re keen to ensure Northstowe is a green and sustainable place to live - the opening of the lakes, along with that of the Northern Greenway and play area next to Pathfinder School, marks a dramatic increase in the amount of green space for the community to use and enjoy.”
Northstowe’s newest neighbourhood will welcome its first residents later this month. Inholm is a community of customisable town houses using innovative modern methods of construction and is located next to the Waterpark.
Homes England, the government housing agency responsible for the development of Northstowe town centre, will soon be seeking a partner to deliver the initial phase - ‘Central One’. This will include a market hall, convenience shopping and also feature the civic hub. It’s anticipated new facilities will start to open to the public in 2024.
South Cambridgeshire is the second largest district in Cambridgeshire.