I have a number of reasons to take a close interest in progress on the Alconbury development. As a Member of the Board of the LEP, I am keen to see the Enterprize Zone deliver high quality jobs and significant retained business rates income, which is central to the LEP's economic strategy and its future funding prospects. I also worked on the Alconbury site at the beginning of my Civil Service career, so I have a sneaking interest because of that.
As Leader of the County Council, I also see the huge role that Alconbury can play as part of the next wave of development for Cambridgeshire, providing space for the development of ideas that may emerge in our science parks but often end up being developed overseas, for high value manufacturing on a huge and flexible site, and being able to deliver over many decades thousands of new jobs and increased prosperity for residents not just in Huntingdonshire, but across the whole of Cambridgeshire and beyond.
And as a Local Member, I also want to ensure that Whittlesey sees its share of the spin-off benefits from Alconbury!
We also, of course, have a critical role in working with our colleagues in Hunts District Council on the planning application for the new commercial premises and homes that are being proposed for the Alconbury Weald site.
We must ensure that what comes forward in housing is accompanied by the appropriate provision for the people who will live there, with facilities like education and transport being in place and fit for purpose for residents, and so that the place augments the existing town of Huntingdon and works well with surrounding villages.
As ever, we will take our planning input very seriously. But, together with the Leader of the District Council, I am also keen that we move through the planning process as quickly as possible.
We won't shirk from ensuring that the development is of the highest quality, but we want to make sure that our debates with Urban and Civic as developers of the site are constructive, well managed, and dealt with without undue delay.
This is in all our interests, as Alconbury has the potential to be the most successful Enterprise Zone in the country. It has fantastic transport connections, and is uniquely placed to make the most of the links to the burgeoning hi-tech economy of Cambridge to the east, and the manufacturing and engineering strengths in Peterborough to the north.