Effective delivery of strategic sites: Peterborough (Hamptons)

Following the closure of the brickworks and brickfields in the 1980s the brownfield site was designated as a replacement site for the fourth planned ‘township’ of the Peterborough New Town in the 1980s.  

Fact file

Type – new community (brownfield land) 

Local Planning Authority (LPA) – Peterborough City Council  

Landowner – O&H  

Promoter / Developer: O&H, adopted master developer model 

Scale – residential-led, 8,000 homes 

Strategic infrastructure requirements – junction improvements (A road), railway overbridge, four primary schools, two secondary schools, protection/mitigation of adjacent SAC (largest UK GCN population) 

Other key uses: 312,000 sq.m employment floorspace, 26,000sq.m retail floorspace (district centre), local centres, reserve land for rail halt, sports facilities, hotel, church, multi-use community centre  

Status – outline Planning Approvals 1993, 2006, 2007, 2015.  Around 6,350 total homes are now occupied. 

Allocation and policy  

Following the closure of the brickworks and brickfields in the 1980s the brownfield site was designated as a replacement site for the fourth planned ‘township’ of the Peterborough New Town in the 1980s.  

Allocated in the Cambridgeshire Replacement Structure Plan (1989), consent was secured in 1993 as a cross border development scheme for 5,200 homes. Peterborough City Council became the lead authority following a boundary change releasing the site from Hunts District.   

Very little local plan policy guidance was in place in the early 1990s to govern the land uses or design of development. The outline consent has outlasted several iterations of the local plan and has had to adjust its delivery to reflect changing local plan policy requirements in certain instances. 

Outline planning applications 

The lifetime of the consent was originally set at 25 years (1993-to 2018).  However, since 1993 there has been a renewal of the outline consent, a new consent for an additional 1,700 units within the original site, a number of S106A consents, and consents for additional development (totalling around 1,000 units) on adjacent brownfield land in the same ownership. 

A single ‘Development Plan’ was approved under the outline for the broad disposition of land use, open space and infrastructure. Development Area Briefs are required under the outline consent for each phase to fix land use details, phasing and design.   

The current landowner adopted the master developer model from the time to acquisition in 1996 (arguably the first private sector-led adopter of this model outside development corporations) and has implemented all the site wide infrastructure, services and facilities, selling serviced land parcels to third party housebuilders. 

Although not mandatory or required, for many years the landowner prepared more detailed design codes and site briefs for specific parts of the site (eg local centres, specialist housing sites) and used design as one of the bidding criteria in selection of housebuilders for disposal of development tranches. 

The site includes three areas of custom-and selfbuild units (instigated by the landowner as no requirement for this use in the consent). 

S106, futureproofing and adaptation 

The Deeds of Variation to the original S106 agreement (s106A) have taken place over the years to reflect changes to infrastructure requirements. These were triggered either by changes to background infrastructure priorities (eg Network Rail did not four-track the East Coast rail line in the area thus the safeguarded rail halt was undeliverable), or were a result of changing priorities for district-wide LPA infrastructure needs (eg the provision of land for a second secondary school on site offset by agreeing reduced affordable housing provision in the latter phases). All were negotiated and approved through effective collaboration.  

Skills and resources 

The 1993 S106 agreement specified the ‘ringfencing’ of three full time planning officers to deliver the development (no requirement to be funded by the applicant). This has reduced over time, but the principle still remains in place and the council funds the officer time. 

The S106 includes a monitoring fee to cover the officer costs of monitoring the triggers, transfer of funds and effectiveness of S106 expenditure against completions. ‘Ready reckoners’ are produced and shared with the LPA to inform and check against the AMR of the LPA. 

Consistency of officer involvement has been a key benefit. Several officers remained in post for over a decade and regular team meetings with officers and statutory agencies plus quarterly director level meetings ensure delivery is consistently supported. 

Governance and ownership of place  

The master developer elected to fund an on-site community support officer in the early years as a way of instigating early community engagement (housed in a portacabin as a temporary community hall, the first CSO was a police officer who also started the first onsite scout group). This proved effective; the CSO and hall quickly became the general ‘welcome’ and ‘enquiry’ point of contact for new residents. 

The S106 identified that the council would take on all the public realm and open space. However, the master developer set up its own management company to fund the long term management of open space and community facilities (including several large lakes within the site now managed for a variety of uses). 

In parallel, a group of residents formed the Hamptons Allotment Association to manage the first allotments on site. This morphed into the Hampton Residents Association and subsequently turned into Hampton Parish Council which now covers the first two completed neighbourhoods.