The Northstowe new town. Photo: English Partnerships/Gallagher Estates; The Northstowe new town. Photo: English Partnerships/Gallagher Estates;

Northstowe, Northstowe, Cambridge

A sustainable new town of up to 10,000 homes to the north of Cambridge

Northstowe is currently the largest stand-alone settlement progressing in the country and will set the benchmarks for other new towns for sustainability, deliverability and viability. Located to the north-west of Cambridge on a former airfield, Northstowe will provide up to 10,000 homes, as well as employment, retail, leisure and open space, including recreational facilities.

The new town promotes a sustainable lifestyle based on green modes of transport and smart technology, with employment underpinned by Cambridge’s knowledge institutions and innovation industries. Residents will benefit from the Cambridge Guided Busway public transport route connecting Northstowe to Cambridge and the nearby market towns of St Ives and Huntingdon.

Developing the framework

Arup developed a strategic masterplan framework through an iterative process of design and consultation.

Our approach has been to develop proposals that offer the quality of life aspired to by new communities, helping to make them initially attractive and ensure they retain their value. Delivering a socially and environmentally sustainable place, both practically and affordably, has been a key factor in the designs. We’ve also recognised the need to bring confidence to government, developers and financiers looking to ensure return on investment and speed of delivery.

The plan for Northstowe integrates the contemporary needs of a new town with the defining characteristics of the site and its setting. Multi-functional green spaces structure permeable and well-connected residential areas by incorporating a rich network of routes linking to adjacent villages and the wider landscape.

Developing phase two

Arup’s work on phase two recognises the HCA’s needs to meet a balance – to maintain viability whilst meeting high levels of sustainability. The open spaces integrate several functions including a surface water drainage system, the retention of existing landscape features and historic landmarks, the creation of new ecological habitats as well as the creation of large recreation spaces.

Our longstanding involvement

The firm has worked on the Northstowe project since the late 1990s – from evaluating the site against other potential locations, to providing planning advice and promoting the scheme to regional bodies and local authorities.

Our ability to manage hugely complex planning applications, constructively engage with stakeholders, coordinate multidisciplinary consultant teams, deliver comprehensive masterplanning proposals and address environmental challenges has helped the HCA overcome some of the project’s key challenges.

Arup’s commitment to delivering the Northstowe project has stretched over many years:

Arup project timeline


  • Arup supports promotion of the site by Gallagher Estates

  • Site allocated as a strategic settlement through the Cambridgeshire Structure Plan and South Cambridgeshire LDF


  • Arup, on behalf of Gallagher and English Partnerships, submit outline planning application for 9,500 dwellings and associated infrastructure and facilities

  • Three full applications for highway infrastructure also submitted


  • Cambridge Guided Busway, an Arup and BAM Nuttall designed project, opens to the public; this creates 26km of guided bus way and cycle corridor, connecting Huntingdon to Cambridge via Northstowe


  • Northstowe phase one outline application submitted (without Arup involvement)


  • Arup appointed by HCA as lead consultant to produce Northstowe phase two outline planning application as well as two separate access road applications


  • Planning application submitted on behalf of HCA for phase two – the central phase including the town centre


  • Construction starts on site for phase one.