Alconbury or Northstowe: if you’ve got to choose …

alconstowe-page-001 (1)I’m not saying that we should. As noted in my earlierpost there’s enough uncertainty around that it would make sense to wait awhile but if you really do feel obliged to make a choice now why not take a step back and think about the real problem which is ‘which is the better place for Shire Hall so that it can access a quality workforce with easy access to it‘.

There’s a table in the ‘accessibility comparison’ which claims to do this by weighting sources of workforce by their size and giving them a score according to the length of the travel time from them. In theory that’s fine but do we really expect the new workforce for Shire Hall to travel in from London, Bedford and Bury St Edmunds? After all there are only going to be 350 staff working there so you might expect them to be living more locally. That’s where they live now.

Check out the map above and look at the people who live within 10 and 25 km of the proposed locations. 10km is a good distance for people to commute by bike although some might be willing to cycle further. 25km is what you might expect to an easy commute by public transport.

What’s striking about the Alconbury 25km circle is that it’s largely rural. Even peterborough is outside it.

By contrast the Northstowe 25 km circle includes all of Cambridge, all of the new communities along the A428 and all of the new development at Waterbeach plus St Ives and several other substantial communities in South and East Cambs. You’ve also got to factor in the prospect of significantly improved public transport as a result of Greater Cambridge Partnership investment.

When I attended the Shire Hall working group I said that I could not support the Alconbury proposal because the accessibility appraisal did not make sense and I could not defend it if challenged. The very simple case highlighted by this map explains it all. Whatever you think about moving out of the current location Northstowe is a much better option than Alconbury.


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