The first application for the site - to start putting in place infrastructure for the 150 hectare sustainable business hub – was approved by Huntingdonshire District Council Development Management Panel last night (Monday 27 February).
This permission will mean that the developers can now start work on a new construction entrance to the site, new internal roads and drainage systems, the necessary demolition work, and to set in place an iconic tree-lined boulevard which will start to transform the former airfield into a centre for innovation and enterprise.
The Enterprise Zone is just part of Urban&Civic’s future plans for the brownfield site, and they will be bringing forward an Outline Application in the next few months for a high quality low carbon development creating 8000 jobs, 5000 homes and crafting 700 acres of green space - including the planting of half a million trees - over the entire 575 hectare site.
Managing Director Robin Butler said: “Alconbury sits on the spine of the country, with transport links running north to south, east to west, and close links to air and sea ports. It has fantastic infrastructure and resources on site from its military legacy, and is at the heart of the dynamic Greater Cambridgeshire Greater Peterborough economic area – surrounded by innovation, cutting edge cleantech industry, and a skilled workforce.
“We are setting the bar high with the quality of development and strong sustainable principles, providing low carbon flexible space to allow businesses to grow and communities to develop in harmony with and surrounded by the natural environment. This early infrastructure investment is the first part of ensuring those elements are realised”.
As part of the early work on site Urban&Civic are also working with Jobcentre Plus and Huntingdonshire Regional College to ensure that the development helps provide training, skills development and jobs for local people. The initial response will include a training centre on site up and running from 1 April and will expand into a jobs and skills brokerage scheme as the development is rolled out.
Urban&Civic – which brings together a handpicked team from Chelsfield and Lend Lease under the experienced leadership of Nigel Hugill and Robin Butler – bought the former airfield in 2009 backed by GI partners. They have spent the last two years working up plans for the site with local partners and local communities. The site was successful in gaining Enterprise Zone status in August 2011. The next steps for the team will be submitting an application for an incubator unit in early summer, and finalising the Outline Application and Masterplan.
Neville Reyner CBE DL, Chair of Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership, said: "It is great news that the Enabling Application has been approved, it is a significant milestone in the development of the Enterprise Zone, and I am impressed with how quickly Huntingdonshire District Council has been able to process and determine Urban&Civic's application. I am now looking forward to seeing the rapid development of fantastic new facilities for businesses at Alconbury which will support our ambitious plans for economic and jobs growth within the wider LEP area."
Mark Tagliaferri, Managing Director of GI partners, added: “At a time of economic uncertainty the development of Alconbury reflects our fundamental belief in strategic land projects. The Enterprise Zone and the broader development will bring real transformational benefit not just to the local economy but to UK PLC. Robin and Nigel have been behind some of the most successful major strategic developments of the last two decades, and we are pleased to be working with them on this inspiring project.”