Nearly 30 years on how does Cambourne compare to the original …
Nearly 30 years ago planners set out the vision of the new Cambridgeshire town of Cambourne, including the hopes for the overall design and facilities on offer. While some parts of the 1995 masterplan are recognisable in the present day town, others did not materialise, including the two golf courses and a driving range. Taking a look back at this original plan it is possible to compare what has been provided and what failed to materialise.
Outline permission to build the new town was granted back in 1994, a year later the masterplan was published and was officially approved in 1996. While the masterplan set out the overall vision, including the potential layout, facilities on offer, it did not include specific designs for buildings, which were decided later.
The masterplan states that the primary aim for the new town was to create an environmentally sustainable development, which “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, and which avoids irreparable or long-term damage to the environment”.
The planners hoped the hew town would take inspiration from villages and incorporate this into the town’s design. As part of the hope to bring the village feel into the town, the masterplan set out intention for Cambourne to be made up of three ‘villages’; Upper Cambourne, Great Cambourne, and Lower Cambourne.
Comparing an aerial view of the existing town with the maps included in the masterplan document it is possible to see that this overall design was mostly followed. One of the major changes to this has been the addition of West Cambourne, which is seeing the additional development of over 2,000 homes on land to the west of Lower Cambourne.
What is the same and what has changed?
As mentioned the overall design for the three original sections of the town is fairly similar to the masterplan proposals - apart from the creation of West Cambourne. The town also saw the creation of a country park between Lower Cambourne and Great Cambourne as was originally proposed. Cambourne did get a library, a fire station and a police station as planned, as well as a new school, a GP surgery, a cemetery, allotments, and a hotel.
One of the differences to the original masterplan is where the shops and facilities were originally proposed compared to where they ended up. The maps in the masterplan show a lot of these buildings being concentrated along the High Street, making this area the focal point for the facilities in the town, however this did not end up being the case.
The Morrisons supermarket for example is set back from the High Street, with people mostly accessing the store from Back Lane. The existing High Street is a lot quieter than the original plans envisaged, it does include a few takeaways, a cafe, a pub, an estate agents, a pharmacy, and a building society, but it is not the centre of the town as designed in the original masterplan.
Another change is at the sports centre, while it is in its planned location, it includes part of one of the big changes from the original plan. The 1995 masterplan sets out that a golf driving range should be included in the sports centre, to complement the two proposed golf courses, with the planners hoping the town could develop a golf academy.(Image: Google) (Image: South Cambridgeshire District Council)
Did the town get two golf courses?
The short answer is no. The original masterplan included proposals for a 18 hole golf course to the north of the town and a nine hole golf course in between Great Cambourne and Upper Cambourne. The golf driving range was proposed next to the sports fields at the sports centre. A whole page of the masterplan report is dedicated to explaining the hopes for the golfing provision and reasons for it.
It said: “The proposals within the masterplan incorporate an 18 and nine hole golf course and driving range. The site offers the opportunity and commercial considerations demand such a provision, to accommodate existing and future players of all standards and abilities.
“In operational terms, such a facility offers the opportunity to develop a golf academy, which satisfies the requirements of regular and competent golfers but also encourages the progression through the courses and encourages a more comprehensive family orientated facility.
"This would also serve to contrast with the other sports provision within the settlement which is geared to physical and youth activity.” While the golf courses were not built, much of the area proposed to be used for golf courses has been left undeveloped and offers open areas available for people to walk around.
A short timeline of the history of Cambourne
- 1994 - Outline permission given permission for a new settlement, that became Cambourne
- 1995 - Original Cambourne masterplan report is produced
- 1996 - The original masterplan is approved
- 1998 - Initial work starts on the site
- 1999 - The first residents move in
- 2002 - Morrisons supermarket opens
- 2004 - Cambourne becomes a separate parish
- 2007 - Outline plans for a further 950 homes is submitted (approved in 2011)
- 2010 - Cambourne Police Station opens
- 2013 - Cambourne Secondary School opens
- 2015 - Cambourne Community Primary School opens
- 2017 - Outline plans for Cambourne West for up to 2,350 home approved
- 2019 - Cambourne Parish Council becomes Cambourne Town Council
- 2020 - Work starts on the Cambourne West site