A blueprint for Northstowe Town Centre has been approved by South Cambridgeshire District Council – including a vision for it to be ‘connected to nature’.
Vision for Northstowe town centre approved
Submitted by Homes England, the Northstowe Town Centre Strategy was approved at the Council’s Planning Committee meeting last week and sets out when the town centre is expected to come forward as part of phase two of the development, and aspirations for what it will include. There are four over-lapping stages for the town centre, with work on the first due to start next year. Detailed designs will follow as part of future planning applications.
The Civic Hub and Market Hall will be key to the early stages of the town centre. The Market Hall will provide an entrepreneurial hub for retail, leisure and a new type of working environment. The Civic Hub will provide library, health and community facilities. Both these facilities will link with the Education Campus which is already under construction. It is hoped that the first of these buildings could be completed around 2023.
The aim of the strategy is to ensure there is a wide range of shops, services, cultural, leisure, entertainment and community facilities that will benefit current and future residents of Northstowe and the surrounding area - without undermining the vitality of nearby village centres. Places to shop, eat, enjoy leisure time, and grab a cup of coffee are all included in the strategy.
The town centre at Northstowe will have landmarks that are both built and natural and other points of interest, including public art and a new park, to create a real sense of place and community. One of the main aspirations of the strategy is to make the town centre ‘connected to nature’, supporting the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors alike. This will be by making sure natural elements flow from the wider landscape into the heart of the town.
A landscaped route will run east to west through Northstowe, linking the water park and expansive open parkland on the eastern edge to the High Street. From the High Street, visitors will be able to travel along an avenue with cycle and foot paths, passing the education and recreational facilities, leading to the water park. Later in the development, the route will continue to connect the High Street with the water tower area and enhance cycle and pedestrian links to Longstanton.
There will be an emphasis on encouraging small and medium enterprises to provide retail, service and leisure opportunities in addition to the national operators expected in a town centre of this size. The wide High Street will provide an opportunity for an outdoor marketplace and live events which over time can build Northstowe’s aspiration to be a place for creativity.
The strategy details how Northstowe should encourage the provision of flexible business space to aid small and medium-sized enterprises and ‘third place’ working away from the traditional office or home, increasing the amount of people working within the town centre on a day-to-day basis. This ‘third place’ working will help retain workers who live locally but have their main place of work outside Northstowe.
Encouraging workers to stay in Northstowe will contribute to the vibrancy and viability of the town centre throughout the week. Building upon new ways of working that have emerged from the Coronavirus pandemic, the strategy aims to deliver opportunities for those seeking a place to work within walking and cycling distance of their home that is part of a vibrant, new “connected” town centre.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Planning, Cllr Dr.Tumi Hawkins, said: “We’re continuing to work closely with Homes England and all the partners at Northstowe to bring forward a thriving, vibrant town centre where current and new residents will want to spend time and money. Clearly retail as an industry has changed hugely during the past decade – and it will continue to do so following the Coronavirus pandemic. This strategy is a bold vision but also ensures there is enough flexibility to adapt to changing shopping habits in the years ahead. Growing local businesses and economies is one of our four Business Plan priorities and we have a unique opportunity at Northstowe to create a town centre that supports small and medium sized companies, and the local jobs they create, from the very start.”
Mike Goulding, Project Director at Homes England said: “The approval of the Town Centre Strategy is a huge moment for Northstowe. Homes England has worked closely with experts and a range of partners, including South Cambridgeshire District Council, to make sure that this Strategy is adaptable and resilient in the face of major changes on the high street. We look forward to the town centre becoming the heart of a growing, thriving community.”
CGI picture: Copyright Homes England
South Cambridgeshire is the second largest district in Cambridgeshire.