I start my report by thanking those councillors, individuals and organisations who have contributed to the village of Hardwick in the past year. There are too many to thank individually but I note with pleasure an increase in involvement in the village. The village relies on volunteers for so much of what goes on locally. The Parish Council values their input and if it can help with new projects it would like to do so.
The Local Plan for South Cambridgeshire was referred back to our District Council [SCDC] by the Inspector so our District Council is currently without an approved Local Plan. SCDC has made small modifications to their Local Plan and resubmitted it but it still includes proposals for major developments along the A428 e.g. at Bourn Airfield and by extending Cambourne. This modified Plan is now under review by Inspectors who have been hearing evidence over the last few months.
Hardwick Parish Council is a member of the Coalition of Parish Councils which comprises over 20 local Parish Councils adjoining or near to the A428. The Coalition was formed to make known the views of local parish councils on strategic infrastructure planning and it has responded on consultations for the modified Local Plan.
In summary the Coalition position, which Hardwick Parish Council voted to support, is that the proposed major housing developments in the A428 corridor are unsustainable. Major housing developments should be built closer to the areas of employment on the urban fringe of Cambridge, possibly on the Cambridge green belt, rather than in the A428 corridor as a ribbon development with insufficient infrastructure. The Coalition believes that the City Deal on transport between Cambridge and Cambourne does not alter the unsustainable nature of the proposals. The Coalition is pressing for an all ways interchange to be built at Girton with the A428/A14 and M11 so that traffic heading down the A428 can link to the A14 going North West and with the M11 going South.
City Deal – Cambourne to Cambridge improved bus services
Even without further development along the A428 it is evident that improved public transport services will be needed to ease congestion on the routes into Cambridge. The Government has pledged funding to finance improved public transport on the route from Cambourne to Cambridge. Hardwick looks set to benefit from any such improvements lying midway along this route. The proposals are currently for a segregated busway. One such option for the busway route would go along the southern edge of Hardwick but it appears more likely that any such bus route would go to the north of the village. If a segregated busway is built, Hardwick Parish Council believes that a route alongside the St Neots Road will bring greater benefits to the village than the other options put forward. The Parish Council preferred route for a segregated busway is not favoured by some residents of St Neots Road and the Parish Council has recognised that their reasonable concerns must be addressed should this be the route decided upon. Residents of St Neots Road called a public meeting last March at which an alternative plan for a busway to the North of the A428 was supported. The Parish Council welcomes the debate and hopes that the City Deal will examine all options for improved public transport in the A428 corridor.
Housing developments in Hardwick
Outline planning permission was granted in March for 98 houses to be built off Grace Crescent. A planning application is due to be heard tomorrow for outline planning permission to be granted for 155 houses off St Neots Road between Meridian Close and Hall Drive. It appears likely that planning permission will be granted for this application as the SCDC has reported no reason for refusal. In particular additional housing is needed in South Cambridgeshire and there is insufficient supply.
The Parish Council has been very involved in the planning process over the past year and initially objected to both the above developments on grounds of sustainability. However as it became evident that these developments were likely to be approved the Parish Council has worked with the developers and SCDC and the Trustees of the community rooms on ways to mitigate the impact of the additional housing and population.
Taking both developments together (assuming permission is granted for St Neots Road development) the Parish Council has negotiated the following benefits for the village, subject to confirmation in some instances.
- A new Community Centre on the Recreation field, with the community rooms at the school being released for pre-school provision
- A community minibus
- Contributions towards a new play area (potentially Egremont Road)
- New changing rooms at the Pavilion for match officials
- Improved footpath and lighting between Cahills Corner and the Blue Lion and along St Neots Road
- Bus shelters with electronic displays and cycle racks along St Neots Road
The Parish Council has been unable to achieve all its aims. For example it wanted to see a doctors surgery in Hardwick and this remains a long term aim. Some money is being made available to mitigate the healthcare impact and the Parish Council is trying to make sure this is spent in Hardwick rather than in Comberton or Little Eversden. Discussions are continuing with Bourn and Comberton surgeries about having some outreach clinics based in Hardwick.
These housing developments and the associated obligations have to be built within the next five years and I understand that building may commence in 2018 or 2019.
There is the longer term possibility of a further development on land to the east of Cambridge Road. This would bring with it extra land for village facilities such as shops, new sports and recreation facilities and a few small office buildings. Such a development would incorporate a new exit road from the village to St Neots Road bypassing the shop and the associated traffic bottleneck. This development would create a small village centre. Such a development is currently speculative as it would involve building on the Cambridge Green Belt.
Hardwick Play Park
The Play Park Group have made progress with plans for a new play park on Egremont Road which will cater for more age groups than at present. The Parish Council have agreed to purchase anew and more robust fence for the play area.
The Parish Council endorsed the concept of developing a Village Plan in August 2015. This project has progressed well during 2016 with the development and launch of a Village Survey towards the end of last year. Martin Cassey heads the Village Plan Steering Committee and will address the meeting tonight with an update. Although the Village Plan Group has yet to present a final report it has already helped the Parish Council and other village groups to inform them about issues in the village.
Hundreds of users access the village website each month so we can measure what a successful project this is. It has been helped in no small part by the existence of the Hardwick Village Group on Facebook.
Until recently the Hardwick Happenings was technically the Hardwick Parish Council magazine. The Parish Council intends to continue providing financial help if this is needed but otherwise the Hardwick Happenings team believe that they could operate more effectively by being independent and worked towards this aim during the year. The magazine became independent in September 2016 with the support and approval of the Parish Council and it is pleasing to note the improvements to the magazine and self sufficiency achieved since then. The magazine produced its first colour issue in March 2017.
Burnt out building St Neots Road/ Cambridge Road junction
Grenville Chamberlain, our District Councillor, will give an update tonight.
Notwithstanding the burnt out building much continued to be done during the year to make Hardwick a more attractive village. A new litter picker has been appointed to keep the recreation areas tidy and there is an active litter picking group doing excellent work in removing litter from the rest of the village. In addition to supporting the litter picking group the Parish Council has provided four new litter bins at bus stops along St Neots Road.
Overgrown hedgerows have been cut back on the recreation field and there has been a full survey of Parish Council owned trees with attention given to the trees, and dead ones removed, where appropriate and where recommended by the survey
A new contractor has been appointed for grass cutting and is undertaking this work with great diligence and effect.
Wild flower areas are planned for parts of the village in the near future.
Noticeboards have been replaced. Benches have been cleaned and repaired.
Some other achievements in 2016/17
The Parish Council considered over 50 planning applications during the year.
Volunteers have been trained tom operate Speedwatch in the village
Play areas are inspected every month
Parish Precept for 2017/18
As residents may have noticed the amount of money requested by Hardwick Parish Council through Council Tax has reduced by more than 10% for the second year running. Savings have been made on special projects and reserves have been reduced slightly as the Parish Council believe that the level of reserves held is more than adequate.
The amount requested for 2016/17 is £42,453 of which about half is spent on maintenance of recreation fields and play areas and other repairs of public assets.
Congratulations to Hardwick Football Club which had its most successful year ever winning the Kershaw Premier League with a huge goal difference of 97 goals.
Hardwick Sports and Social Club won the Cambridge Cribbage league, again its best ever result.
Apologies if there are other sporting successes I have failed to mention.
Chairman, Hardwick Parish Council
9th May 2017