Your District Councillors – Hazel Smith, Judith Rippeth and Anna Bradnam – have provided their combined report for Milton News readers ahead of the Milton Parish Council in June. Items covered:
Following a resolution to aim for zero carbon by 2050, South Cambs has sponsored a symposium in Cambridge on Climate Change Research and Action which Hazel attended, along with a number of councillors and officers from both councils. The most impressive presentation was from Leeds Climate Commission: they have mapped the necessary actions for their area to get to zero carbon by 2050.
80% of the houses we’ll be living in in 2050 are already built, so retrofitting and improving the existing housing stock has to be a priority, and South Cambs is already reviewing its housing stock maintenance plans with this in mind. One of the easiest ways we can make a serious difference is to eat less meat and dairy products. We have to increase recycling rates and generate as much renewable energy as possible. With new houses being off the gas grid from 2025, much more electricity generation will be required, and air- and ground-source heatpumps will be needed. New housing needs to be planned for comfort, with solar panels and orientated to avoid overheating in summer, with ventilation and passive cooling, avoiding the need for air conditioning. To what extent can we plan for a Passivhaus standard? These houses generally cost 19% extra, and purchasers are only prepared to pay 5% more, but some councils have built them. We also need to plant more trees. The Centre for Sustainable Energy website has suggestions that can be added to Neighbourhood Plans, and local plans. There was a lot of food for thought.
We had a useful meeting on Universal Credit with Heidi Allen, who is still sitting on a Select Committee that is reviewing the implementation of UC (in spite of having left the Conservative party). Officers who help claimants were able to tell Heidi their first-hand experiences of the unfairness of the UC system. Many people are better off not reporting a worsening in their circumstances if it triggers a move to UC from other benefits. The website entitledto.co.uk has a very useful calculator which allows anyone to find out if this would be the case for them: once you’ve applied for UC there is no turning back even if you realise you’ve made a mistake and will be worse off. There are are still serious anomalies in the system: if you try to start your claim early (eg before your final pay-cheque has come through) you will be paid UC even later than the normal 5 weeks wait. The main barrier remains that all claims must be made online, and not enough help is given to people who are not IT-literate.
Waterbeach Internal Drainage Board
Hazel and Anna attend their meeting – it was interesting to hear the IDB view of the continuing dry weather, as their remit includes providing water for irrigation when needed. Last year there was voluntary part-time rationing, but they anticipate the water shortage could be more serious this year if we don’t get a rainy period before summer.
21st century town centre planning
At Cambourne we learnt from Bill Grimsey (ex-Chief Exec of a number of High Street names) what we should be aiming to provide to make for a successful town centre, in the age of internet shopping, drone delivery and low-carbon living. He is retired and spends his time advising councils with failing town centres how to regenerate them. In South Cambs we’re in a different position, with one new town, Cambourne, which has just been upgraded from a village at the Parish Council’s request, and other town centres on the drawing board. The town centre has to provide a unique experience, quirkiness, recreation, food and drink, meeting places, a tech centre, fresh produce markets, and be easily accessible. It probably won’t have large clothes shops in the future. Some of the Waterbeach developers were at the meeting to hear his opinions.
At the end of the symposium on 21st century High Streets we talked about the principle of making a library the heart of a community. During 2019 the County Council has been working with an organisation called Civic who are designing ‘Libraries for the future’ as the key element in any community hub. Northstowe is to be used as a pilot for this concept and Anna asked that Waterbeach New Town should be involved too, incorporating a library facility into Phase 1. Ideally this should be in consultation with and supporting the existing independent library in Waterbeach Village as well.
Waterbeach New Town
Urban and Civic’s outline planning application for up to 6,500 dwellings was approved by SCDC’s planning committee on 13th May by 8 votes to 3. The application covers the Western half of the proposed new town site with the first primary access from the A10 at the Cambridge Research Park roundabout. The affordable housing for the site will be delivered on the following basis incorporating a Viability Review Mechanism (VRM.) A minimum of 30% affordable dwellings will be delivered across the key phases of development which totals 1950 homes with the following breakdown:
30% affordable rent
30% shared ownership
20% Rent to Buy
20% Discounted Market Sale
The first 300 homes will be open market – an affordable housing holiday for the developers – which means a floor of 30% is viable across the site. Any profit made by U&C beyond their agreed IRR (Internal Rate of Return) of 20% will be split 50/50 with SCDC. This will help to increase the affordable housing upwards capped at the policy figure of 40%. The top option of 30% affordable rent will remain affordable in perpetuity, in contrast to Rent to Buy, which better reflects the longer term housing need of the district.
Another successful Parklife was held on Sunday 19th May with estimates of over 4,000 people from across the district and beyond attending the event. The range of free activities promote health and wellbeing with many residents, especially children, trying out a range of sports and outdoor activities from paddleboarding to caving. The numbers were up on last year possibly due to the weather not being as sweltering, and from the feedback it looks as if a great time was had by all. We are very grateful to all the paid staff and volunteers for the hours of work put in over the weekend and in the weeks prior to the event; and also our thanks goes to the exceptional small business caterers, the exhibitors, the Cambridge Sport Lakes Trust for the use of the Milton Country Park, Tesco for all the free fruit provided and to those who came along to make it a success.
The Farmland Museum opened again in April and continues to provide numerous educational and fun activities for children as well as marketing the site as a venue for corporate events, whilst maintaining its rural atmosphere and preserving the historic collection. Standard museum admission tickets are Annual Passes, allowing repeat visits for a year. Special events include a Festival of Archaeology on 25 July https://www.dennyfarmlandmuseum.org.uk/?event=festival-of-archaeology-childrens-event
New volunteers are very welcome https://www.dennyfarmlandmuseum.org.uk/content/about/jobs-4