Council proposes funds for Northstowe community facilities

More than £12.8 million in funding, to secure high-quality community facilities for Northstowe residents, is being proposed by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Northstowe

A report published by the Council today (Wednesday 15 June 2022) outlines a plan for the Council to help fund the growing new town’s Sports Pavilion and Community Centre on phase one, and Civic Hub and additional Sports Pavilion on phase two.

The phase one Sports Pavilion, near the sports pitches, would provide changing facilities for teams and officials and a multi-use club room and catering facilities. The Community Centre would be within the Local Centre and will be a multi-use facility for Northstowe residents.

The Civic Hub on phase two is intended to be the landmark building within the Town Centre. This will be a five or six storey building, with space for community activity and development, a library service, a GP surgery, and other similar services.  The Sports Pavilion on phase two is likely to be like the phase one Pavilion, but details are still being confirmed.

If Councillors agree to the proposals, the money to pay for the investment into Northstowe will come from capital receipts.

When developers build new homes that will have a significant impact on an area or community, they are asked to contribute funding to local services like community buildings through what is known as a Section 106 agreement. Funding arrangements intended to cover the cost of constructing Northstowe’s community buildings in phases one and two were outlined in Section 106 agreements that were signed several years ago. However, in the years that have passed, it has become clear that the funding allocated for the community buildings will not cover the full costs of building them.

One of the main reasons for this is because the costs associated with construction have risen significantly recently because of several national and global factors. These include issues such as Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation, the fuel crisis, and its repercussions on global material production and, more recently, Russian sanctions.

As a result, and to ensure that truly high-quality community facilities are delivered for current and future residents of Northstowe, South Cambridgeshire District Council is proposing to step-in and cover the shortfall in funds to bring the new buildings forward as quickly as possible.

The proposed funding, which will be discussed by Councillors in the weeks ahead, includes:

  • £1.53 million towards the phase one Sports Pavilion
  • £6.5 million towards the phase one Community Centre
  • £2.82 million towards the phase two Civic Hub
  • £2 million towards the phase two Sports Pavilion

The Council’s Scrutiny and Overview Committee will consider the plans on Thursday 23 June before they are discussed at Cabinet on Monday 11 July. All District Councillors will then be able to vote on the proposals at the next Full Council meeting on Thursday 21 July.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Bill Handley, said: “These plans show how we propose to ensure that these four important community buildings are fully-funded and can be delivered for the benefit of Northstowe residents well into the future. Clearly all Councillors will need to have their say by voting on the plans, but this is our way of showing that we want to do all we can to support this growing new community. New towns and their facilities do not spring up overnight, and indeed take many years to blossom. The plans that will be discussed in the weeks ahead aim to outline a clear path to getting Northstowe residents the long-term community facilities that they need and deserve.”

During the year ahead, the report also outlines how officers will continue to investigate the most appropriate development routes for Enterprise Zone land at Northstowe which is earmarked for commercial development and business use.

Last week, the Council announced that it was purchasing two homes and a sales office at Northstowe – and plans to modify them for use by community groups. The buildings are proposed to be a medium-term replacement for the temporary community facilities which are currently in place at the Community Wing at the town’s Pathfinder Primary School. These facilities will close on 17 June as the growing school requires the space. Subject to receiving planning permission to change the use of the buildings, they will be repurposed to provide community space ahead of the Sports Pavilion, Community Centre and Civic Hub coming forwards.

One of the District Councillors for Northstowe, Cllr Alex Malyon, commented: “We know how keen residents of Northstowe are for community facilities to be delivered as quickly as possible; so are we. These proposals, and the recent investment in the interim facilities, show the Council is working hard to make sure Northstowe has high quality community buildings. This is despite the incredibly challenging financial times that we are living through, which are impacting individual households and the construction industry globally. We know that Northstowe is already a brilliant place to live, with its community groups and events, green spaces, waterparks, play areas, schools, and transport links. We’re committed to making it even better for people already living here and for future residents of Northstowe.”

Image credit: South Cambridgeshire District Council 

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