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I'm the local councillor for 12 villages in the south of Cambridgeshire - Duxford, Fowlmere, Foxton, Great & Little Chishill, Newton, Heydon, Hinxton, Ickleton, Pampisford, Shepreth, Whittlesford and Thriplow.

 

Which village gets the Milton water treatment!

Which village gets the Milton water treatment!

The short answer from the Leader of the council to the question I asked at South Cambs Ditzy Council last week is “don’t worry, we’re on top of it.”

Hardly reassuring, because while the City of Cambridge is all over the number one issue of proposals for clearing the old Milton water treatment site to build thousands of new homes, the number two issue of where the water treatment site goes is for South Cambs and its villages, because one of them will get it.

If being a councillor for ten years has taught be anything it is that uncertainty about infrastructure just increases people’s anxiety, whether it’s a road or a railway station, or, in this case, a 40 hectare sewage plant that’s bubbling up. Here’s what it looks like now.

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One thing is for sure, it won’t be relocated anywhere in Cambridge. The proposals for a new area known as the Cambridge Northern Fringe East site are in the wind because if the govt chips in £180m to move the Anglian Water plant then the pipe is clear for a major bit of house building up near Cambridge North rail station. The paperwork is wending its way through various govt departments.

Approximately 5,200 homes are planned for the core site, together with around 1m sq. ft. of commercial space (circa 7,000 jobs) “and a mix of retail, community and leisure space” according to the blurb.

Cambridge City papers go on to say “The redevelopment of the adjacent sites covering the wider CNFE area, if enabled by the relocation of the water recycling centre, has the potential to deliver an additional estimated 2,400 new homes and around 40,000 new jobs, supported by amenities and community facilities.”

South Cambs are launching a consultation with residents, starting in a few weeks, but the focus is on how any new development will be eco-friendly and exciting. As it will be.

But on the options for where the water treatment site might go, nothing in the South Cambs report, not a squeak, not a ripple breaking the surface, except for the comment that Cambridge City is well into discussions with Anglia Water and other parties.

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And that’s the point - all recent commentary is led by Cambridge City, whether politicians or Fiona Bryant, strategic director at Cambridge City Council, who said recently “the focus is on making the business case for the development on the site of the water plant. She said that, if the bid for HIF funding is unsuccessful, it is unlikely Anglian Water will move from the site.”

Now, technology has moved on, and any future site will be smaller and far less obtrusive. But at the end of the day it will have to go somewhere, and somewhere in South Cambs. The District Council talks about the exciting environmental opportunities for a car-free carbon-neutral development mainly in Cambridge, and to be fair, some of the housing will be built in South Cambs and so reduce the need for more houses in our villages.

But however po-faced this might sound, South Cambs has to focus on, and be less vague about, the movement that is imminent. That’s the movement of a large water treatment plant to a South Cambs village. That’s the job in hand.

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