We are pleased to work with the local Parish Councils on our outline planning application. This post covers a list of questions issued to SmithsonHill from Sawston Parish Council in readiness for their Parish Council meeting on 9th January 2018.

The outline planning application (SCDC ref: S/4099/17/OL)  is a large undertaking in-line with the scale of our project and the docuemtns are very detailed so every question responded to here in summary can be seen in much more detail within the above link. There is also an executive summary available and you can also find additional Frequently Asked Questions at this link.

  1. How do the highway improvements relate to other plans eg A1307 upgrading, GCP Rural Hub proposals at Whittlesford?

We have been closely monitoring and working with officers at the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) regarding proposals for the A1307 following on from a series of transport workshops we ran at Sawston in 2016. The outcome of these workshops was the clear suggestion of reopening up the old railway line which is now one of the preferred routes. We have also been involved in the discussion of the potential new Park and Ride. We believe there are clear benefits in linking Whittlesford Parkway with this new facility and our proposals do not prejudice that.  Indeed the proposed bus / cycle interchange included as part of our application will be complementary to such proposals.

With regard to the GCP Rural Hub work, we have pushed hard and helped with a letter of support for Whittlesford to be one of the trial hub sites. In the past our field has been considered for a car park but it is clear now that Abellio are pursuing a larger car park on the existing facility at the station. It is however also clear from the extensive consultation we have undertake that a quick and easy bus drop off is needed not only for public buses but also those from other business parks. The facilities for turning and access are just not satisfactory at the station as they stand. The proposed bus / cycle interchange involves a bus drop off and pick up point just adjacent to the old road, 400 metres (5min walk) from the station.

The suggested proposals released by GCP 8th January 2018, albeit only an initial proposal by the GCP consultants, involve a bus stop and overflow car park 650m west of the station. Again our proposals, which focus more on enhancing access to the station by non-car modes would not be complementary to such a concept should this location continue forward..

  1. What is the impact assessment of the signalised crossings over the A1301 and to the MacDonald’s roundabout? Will there be lighting and footpath improvements to the Sawston access path from the roundabout?

The proposed new signalised crossings for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrian users on the A1301 (at Sawston and Hinxton) would be lit and would likely require localised reduction in speed limits from 50mph to 40mph. These would be activated on demand only and are expected to have negligible impact on traffic capacity of the A1301. A new shared-use footpath is proposed from the existing footpath at the bus stop on London Road (south of Iconix Park), connecting to the proposed crossing, along the west side of the A1301 and north side of the A505, to the proposed bus/cycle interchange and on to Whittlesford Parkway Station. This would connect into existing foot/cycle paths at the McDonald’s Roundabout as well as to the proposed foot/cycle bridge.

  1. Can the bus service proposals be extended to Sawston to provide a link to Whittlesford station – maybe a circular route?

We would hope that this would in time be the case along with a link to the new proposed Park and Ride site being considered as part of the A1307 study. Linking the largest village in South Cambs with the railway station is a must and we will support any proposal which comes forward.

As part of our scheme, we propose funding improvements to the Citi 7 service, to allow the route to be extended to stop at the site and at the proposed bus/cycle interchange, which would more directly connect Sawston to Whittlesford Parkway Station.

  1. What are the proposals re the electricity network?

The electricity supply to the area was highlighted as Critical in a South Cambs report in 2013. Our project has highlighted a much larger issue with UK Power Networks (UKPN) which now involves a complete overhaul of the electricity supply from Burwell to the area via Fulbourn. We have worked closely with all the local business parks, Addenbrookes, Marshall and UKPN to work on bringing in a brand new 40MKV supply to a new primary electricity sub-station hidden to the rear of our site. This will provide greater resilience to the area and ensure that blackouts will not occur at the Sawston substation. It also provides a secondary back up supply to the area which does not currently exist. UKPN are unable to pay to do this work as it falls out of the scope of their regulator. If our project were not funding this, South Cambs or another organisation would need to pay for this work as GCP money is not earmarked for infrastructure other than transport.

  1. What is the basis for the calculated increase in GVA?

The basis for the calculation was to use the Governments (Department for Business and Homes and Community Agency) approved methodologies and government data for the GVA per job, both for construction of the Park and the types of jobs expected to be created once the Park is operational.  In every case the assessment has assumed conservative estimates for the GVA generated per worker and the additionality created in the local community through multipliers due to spending by employees and companies.  This increase in GVA has also allowed for any economic activity which would ‘leak’ outside the area due to workers who live elsewhere or goods purchased from companies based outside the area.  This follows standard national guidelines for economic impact assessments as set out in the additionality guidelines from the Homes and Communities Agency.

  1. What sort of organisations will come to the site and what sort of technology will be developed there?

We have interest in the site from global organisations, universities through to small start-ups and international companies. We also have a number of companies located in the surrounding area who have expressed an interest in relocating to enable growth or to access the cluster of expertise on the park. This interest is reflected in the letters of support we have for the site which can be seen within the application. We have a Memorandum of Understanding for a 30,000 sq ft building and are working closely with the Cambridge Sustainable Food Hub to deliver a cafe, food incubator, Cambridge Organic Food Company and educational area.

It is however chicken and egg – we need certainty of planning before any of the companies will formally commit. This is not inconsistent with a planning approach, for example AstraZeneca came to Cambridge 5 years after the Biomedical Campus achieved outline planning permission.

  1. Job calculations – what is the number of transferred jobs and the number of actual new jobs and what sort of jobs will these be?

Until we know who the tenants are and if they relocating to expand etc. this is difficult to answer. The types of jobs expected will range from tractor drivers, farmers, engineers, software engineers, scientists, crop specialists, data analysts through to bus drivers, facilities and office staff.

  1. What is the impact of the extra employment on housing and other facilities (as some people will want to settle locally)?

The assessment work undertaken, including with regard to Transport and associated infrastructure proposals to enhance access to Whittlesford Parkway, assumes that a high proportion of employees will not live locally to the site, in acknowledgement that people working in the area at the moment do not generally live close to their place of work.  Due to the excellent links to Waterbeach combined with the recent addition of Cambridge North and possibly Cambridge South the site is excellently placed to link to the new Housing growth sites.

There are also proposals being promoted by others, including the North Uttlesford Garden Village, which would provide additional housing in the future should employees on the park wish to live closer to their place of work.

In the context of this it is important to note that the development would be phased over a long period, with completion not anticipated until 2030.   Key transport infrastructure such as the proposed bus/cycle interchange and bridge over the A505 / A1301 would however be delivered as part of the first phase, as set out within the planning application documentation. This will help instil sustainable travel patterns from the outset.

  1. Will there be unlimited access to parkland, running track, natural swimming pond for people from Sawston? Or will there be security measures in place to constrain accesss?

We want this Park to be open access. The new cycle routes and paths will be fully open to all members of the public. It is proposed that the leisure facilities on site will be available to the local community but measures would be imposed through a travel plan and car park management plan to ensure that such visits to the site are by sustainable modes e.g. public transport or cycle, supplemented by the proposals to enhance access by such modes.

While we will need to include security measures on site such as CCTV and car number plate recognition a key objective of the scheme is for it to benefit the existing community as far as possible.

  1. Any shuttle arrangements to Sawston to generate high street business?

Specific proposals such as this would be considered further following a start on site but it is an excellent idea that needs to link in with the GCP hub work and public transport routes which are currently being reviewed. As a result of the planning process and significant infrastructure work required the first occupiers are not anticipated on site for at least 2 to 3 years so we need to continually assess once planning for individual buildings has been achieved.

Notwithstanding this, as noted above, we propose funding improvements to the Citi 7 service, to allow the route to be extended to stop at the site and at the proposed bus/cycle interchange, which would more directly connect the site to the centre of Sawston.

  1. What are the proposals to reduce flood risk?

The surface water drainage strategy for the development is for all runoff to be returned to ground via a number of infiltration and Sustainable Urban Drainage features.  Such features would include permeable paving with sub-base storage and below ground infiltration, infiltration trenches, roadside swales and soakaways for roof drainage.  Land has also been set aside for potential attenuation areas / soakaways in the south west corner of the site and around the A1301 / A505 roundabout to assist in addressing existing localised surface water flooding issues in the area should this be required.  The Environment Agency have confirmed that they have no objection to the proposals.

Also, is there any preliminary work already going on the site – a couple of people have asked about this.

We have undertaken extensive preliminary work on the site in preparation for the planning application. This has included ecology surveys through to tree and noise surveys. Probably the most intrusive work to date is the archaeological work which involved a full geophysical survey of the site and then a number of trenches across the land last summer and into the early autumn after harvest.

There has however also been two fairly major works on our land by Cambridge Water (also known as Staffs Water). Firstly an overflow pipe from the pumping station to the river via the rear of McDonalds and secondly and more recently, a larger main has been installed as a replacement pipe, most visible parallel to the A505 both on our land and alongside the road towards Pampisford. None of this work was undertaken or initiated by this project but as part of Cambridge Water’s general improvement works.

On the wider Hinxton Grange Estate outside of our ownership there have recently been a number of stable blocks built and Mighton have added a new building and a surface water soakaway in the grounds of Hinxton Grange pursuant to an existing planning permission.


We are very happy to hear from you, and will update this FAQ in line with any other questions that arise and of course all the planning documents are available on our website as well as the  council’s website (application ref: S/4099/17/OL). Please get in touch by our contact form or email hello@smithsonhill.co.uk  with any questions, and we welcome all letters of support via the South Cambs District Council website.