2 - The Neighbourhood Plan Area

DRAFT VERSION - last revised 30 January 2021. This section of the plan is also available in PDF form.

Please give us some feedback! Email your comments to gg.2020vision@gransdens.org.

2.1 Location

Great Gransden parish includes the village of Great Gransden and rural area to the north, east and west, with a total area of 1374 hectares. The parish is located in Huntingdonshire District, on its southern boundary, and the village of Great Gransden is located at the southern end of the parish. Adjacent and to the south of Great Gransden village is the village of Little Gransden. The parish of Little Gransden is located in a different district, South Cambridgeshire District.

The village is located approximately 9 miles south east of St Neots, 15 miles south of Huntingdon and 15 miles west of Cambridge. Great Gransden is surrounded by a cluster of villages including Little Gransden, Waresley, Abbotsley, Eltisley, Caxton, Bourn and Longstowe. The growing town of Cambourne is about five miles to the north east. Most villagers regard themselves as inhabitants of “The Gransdens” (a name given to the two settlements of Great and Little Gransden), but Little Gransden does not fall into the NP area boundary. The Great Gransden NP area consists of the whole parish of Great Gransden as shown in Figure 1 below, and Figure 2 shows the Great Gransden community within the wider regional context. 

Designated area for the Great Gransden Neighbourhood Plan

Figure 1: Great Gransden Neighbourhood Plan Area

Sketch showing Great Gransden in relation to nearby towns and cities

Figure 2: Great Gransden NP area within the wider regional context

2.2 Population

The latest estimate of Great Gransden’s population was 1023 (Census, 2011), with the age profile shown in Figure 3:

age profile of Great Gransden, compared with that of the district and county
Figure 3: age profile

2.3 Household Characteristics

There are currently about 400 dwellings in the parish. Owner occupation is the dominant tenure in Great Gransden accounting for 84 per cent of all households (at the time of the 2011 Census of Population). Social and private rented accommodation each account for about seven per cent of all households.

There are twenty rented houses managed by housing associations and two shared ownership properties in the parish. On completion of the development of Dutton Gardens, off Sand Road, there will be an additional 16 affordable homes, of which 8 will be rented via housing associations and 8 shared ownership.

Fifty six per cent of all dwellings in Great Gransden have four or more bedrooms. Smaller properties are relatively scarce; dwellings with two or fewer bedrooms account for only 15 per cent of stock. (at the time of the 2011 Census of Population)

The village is not provided with mains gas. Most houses are heated by oil, though increasing numbers have air or ground source heat pumps installed.

2.4 Built Environment Character

Great Gransden is an ancient rural parish, mentioned in 973 when its land was endowed to Thorney Abbey by Aethelwold, Bishop of Winchester. The main settlement in the parish (‘the village’) lies on the southern edge of the parish.

The village has a spacious feel with many houses set in plots with gardens both front and rear. The village layout incorporates open green spaces at road junctions, often with large trees. There are many mature trees, hedges and grassy verges around the village, reflecting its rural nature and providing the link to the countryside.

At its heart is a picturesque conservation area (see Figure 4, below) with many well-preserved historic buildings and several large distinctive houses, including Gransden Hall, Rippington Manor, Audley House, Old Vicarage, Rectory Farm, The Old Barn, Manor House, and Brinkley House. There are 60 listed buildings in the parish, almost all within the conservation area.

map showing the boundary of the Great Gransden conservation area, with listed buildings marked in purple

Figure 4: conservation area boundary, with listed buildings marked in purple

There is limited street lighting so the village enjoys dark skies.

The village is surrounded by agricultural land with extensive views to the open countryside, and with traditional buildings such as barns. However there is limited access for recreation.

2.5 Landscape Character

The parish of Great Gransden lies within the South Eastern Claylands Landscape character area, one of nine landscape character areas in the district as described in the Huntingdonshire Townscape and Landscape Assessment (HTLA) 2007* . This character area is situated in the south eastern corner of Huntingdonshire. It stretches from the district boundary in the east and south (where Great Gransden is located), to the Ouse valley in the north and west. The following description contained in the HTLA 2017 reflects well landscape character in Great Gransden:

The South East Claylands contain extensive areas of high quality landscape, achieved through the combination of landform, established woodland and hedgerows, well managed farmland and attractive villages. The relative lack of settlement in the area, combined with the mature vegetation, creates an intimate and tranquil landscape, which feels remote and has a strong sense of history. The smaller villages also contribute to the area's serenity, with their village greens and 'chocolate box' cottages.

Source: Huntingdonshire Townscape and Landscape Assessment 2007 https://www.huntingdonshire.gov.uk/media/2573/huntingdonshire-design-guide-2017.pdf

The landscape character around the village of Great Gransden comprises gently undulating arable farmland with mostly large fields and hedgerows. Great Gransden Postmill, St Bartholomew’s Church and Gransden Woods are key landmarks within this gently rolling landscape. The village of Great Gransden itself has an undulating topography which contributes greatly to the setting of the village as a whole, the conservation area and the individual listed buildings.

2.6 Natural Environment

The natural environment in Great Gransden is much treasured by the people who live here. Key features are the attractive countryside, a strong sense of tranquillity, dark skies and the rich diversity of wildlife. Areas rich in wildlife assets that are enjoyed by local people include the Waresley and Gransden Woods Nature Reserve, the community orchard and a wildflower meadow both located on the Allotments site, rural gardens and the wider agricultural landscape including hedgerows, ponds, meadows and copses. Some of the areas of importance for wildlife are accessible or viewable from the established public footpaths and roads but others are not.

Much of the area of the parish is given over to arable farmland which is managed fairly intensively to grow crops mainly of winter-sown cereals (mostly wheat), oil-seed rape and beans. The wildlife of most of the parish is typical of many such areas of lowland farmland in Southern and Eastern England but within Great Gransden these areas still support reasonably good populations of Yellowhammers and smaller numbers of Corn Bunting and Skylarks, species which have declined greatly elsewhere.

Gransden Wood is an ancient woodland and is by far the most important site for wildlife within the parish. It supports a number of ancient woodland indicator plant species, including an important population of Oxlips, and a spectacular show of Bluebells carpets the woodland floor in Spring. Together with Waresley Wood (with which it forms a single woodland block) it is notified under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Two-thirds of the area of Gransden Wood lies within the Waresley and Gransden Woods Nature Reserve which is owned and managed by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust. The northern third is in private ownership. There are various other small copses of deciduous broadleaved woodland (some of which are also ancient woodland remnants) elsewhere in and around the parish.

The relatively small areas of permanent grassland remaining within the parish are mostly horse-grazed or cut for hay. Apart from the fields between West Street and Park Riddy and the Gransden Showground field, most of the other small parcels of land within the parish that have survived as areas of grassland are well way from the village itself at Crimpledean, Leycourt and Hardwicke. These meadows are mainly on the poorly draining calcareous boulder clay and often with ridge and furrow topography. Cowslips are common and a few of these neutral meadows remain unimproved and still support scarcer plants such as Adder’s Tongue Fern and Sulphur Clover.

Connectivity of wildlife habitats greatly enhances their value and an opportunity has been identified to create an improved network of habitats across the parish. On the southern flank of the village, a contiguous series of surviving grassland fields collectively form a valuable green corridor along the valley of the Home Dole Brook and Gransden Brook, stretching from Mill Road to Little Gransden Lane and to Waresley Road and including Gransden Park. This green arc-shaped corridor along the valley of Gransden Brook (shown on Map 5.4) has been identified as an area to target protection and habitat enhancements.

2.7 Great Gransden Community

Great Gransden benefits from a strong sense of community. In NP consultations, community spirit was identified as the most important aspect of village life.

The village has many clubs, societies and organisations covering sport, music, the arts, education and general social activities. These serve all age groups, from playgroup and nursery for pre-school children to the Evergreens for our older residents. The drama group “The Revellers” stages several performances each year. A list of clubs and societies is provided in Appendix 6.

There are five main social hubs within the village: the Crown and Cushion public house, the Reading Room (which is our village hall), the Lighthouse café, the school hall and St Bartholomew's Church. The village shop and Post Office is also a highly valued village facility. The Reading Room, the village shop and Post Office and the Crown and Cushion village pub are all designated as Assets of Community Value.

The residents of Great Gransden have access to a range of sports and leisure facilities, supporting health and wellbeing. Centrally situated within the village is the Playing Field, with the Bowls Club, a recently opened Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) and a children's playground. There is a second playground situated in Mandene Gardens (designated an Asset of Community Value) but it is currently unsafe and cannot be used. It is due to be revamped when the two developments in that area are complete. The Sportsfield, on the outskirts of the village is managed through the Gransden Sports and Recreation Association (GSRA), a trust established by the Parish Council. It is used by Gransden Football Club and Gransdens Tennis Club. The pavilion is used by the local nursery. There is also a car park which has space for circa 25 cars. The car park is also used during the day by the pre-school playgroup.

The Great Gransden allotments are situated about one mile from the village centre. There are 29 full size plots and a children’s area of smaller plots plus a community orchard, pond and wildflower meadow.

There are regular charitable events, contributing to both local and national charities, including: Blues and Soul music festival; “Later with” music event; charity tennis tournaments; the Summer Ball; Gransden Agricultural Show; Gransden Muddy Run; Traidcraft Big Brew.

2.8 Transport

Road Links

The village of Great Gransden is not on any A road, the nearest being the A428 (2.5 miles to the North). Nearby is the A1 (6 miles West) and the A1198 (3 miles East), and within easy reach via these roads are the M11, the A14 and the A505, all about 12 miles away (see Figure 2, above). The B1040 runs along the western boundary of the parish, and the B1046 runs roughly E-W through the village,

Overall, the connectivity by car is quite good, with access to the local employment and shopping centres and local rail stations (see Figure 5, below). However, this does result in a high level of traffic through the village at peak hours, especially if there are problems on the A14 and/or the A428. There is a proposal to put a new, limited-access dual carriageway between the Caxton Gibbet roundabout (the A428/A1198 junction) and the Black Cat roundabout (the A421/A1 junction), with the existing A428 section between the Caxton Gibbet and the A1 being downgraded. (See https://highwaysengland.co.uk/a428-black-cat-to-caxton-gibbet-home/.) Work is due to start on this in 2022, with the route running close to St Neots and then north of the existing A428, as sketched on Figure 5.

Major and minor roads around Great Gransden, including the planned A428 Expressway

Figure 5: Roads and communities around Great Gransden

Public transport

The nearest railway stations are at Sandy and St Neots, both on the East Coast Main Line; St Neots has fast services to Huntingdon and Peterborough in one direction, and London, Gatwick airport and Horsham in the other. Other nearby stations include Royston (on the Cambridge Line), Huntingdon (East Coast Main Line) and Cambridge.

The chosen route of the planned east – west rail link will run through the parish. (eastwestrail.co.uk) Public consultation is underway to identify the preferred detailed route. This new line would include a new station between Caxton and Cambourne, around four miles from the village of Great Gransden. The implications for the Parish of the route and the new station are unclear at this stage.

There is a very limited bus service, with one service each weekday morning to Cambridge from Great Gransden, and two return services.

There is a dial-a-bus and dial-a-car service called HACT serving Huntingdonshire, for people who cannot access local bus routes. The dial-a-bus service has a different destination each day of the week.

Road Safety

Except for the village environment, all roads have national speed limit. The approaches to the village have 40mph limits, and the village itself 30mph. Middle Street by the primary school has a speed limit of 20mph. There are two Mobile Speed Indicators but no other traffic calming measures.

There is limited provision of pavements, no designated cyclepaths, nor dual-use foot/cycle paths in or around the village. This poses a significant hazard for pedestrians, especially with the speed of traffic, the narrowness of roads, and limited street lighting. The roads around the centre of the village are generally narrow. There is extensive on-road parking that further narrows the roads and causes congestion, especially at peak times.

A number of the road junctions have very limited visibility for vehicles and pedestrians. A number of properties on the edge of the village have driveways that emerge on or close to blind corners or blind humps.

2.9 Employment

Great Gransden is well placed for access to employment opportunities across the region being located close to major roads (A1/A14/A428) and having St Neots train station within a 15 minute drive. The initial commute from the village is almost entirely by private transport.

Home based working has become more common, particularly with recent restrictions due to COVID-19. Many residents work from home full-time, and many more split their time between home and office, reducing the number of cars on the roads and increasing the sustainability of local village services.

In the HDC Local Plan Great Gransden has two designated industrial sites, the Sand Road Industrial Estate and Hardwick Road Industrial Estate. Together these house around 25 SMEs. Kingspan is a significant local employer, however they are planning to relocate and propose to develop their site for housing. There are agricultural employers such as Collings Brothers and farms surrounding the village.

These employers provide an estimated [xx] jobs, however only a minority of the workforce live in Great Gransden, the majority commute to work into the village, mainly by car.

2.10 Communication infrastructure

Great Gransden is provided with a number of mobile and fixed line broadband services. All broadband services are provided via British Telecommunications plc (BT) and its subsidiaries, whilst mobile services are provided via the big four mobile companies, Vodafone, O2, EE and Three. There are currently no Ultrafast services available within the Great Gransden area, and mobile services, both voice and data, can often be patchy.

As well as standard services, facilities exist within the local area, to utilise mobile internet services (data) via mobile operators, or to use satellite-based data networks.

2.11 Education

Easy access to a good school is essential for families with children under 16. Great Gransden is fortunate to have its own primary school, so many children can travel on foot. There is much family-sized housing in the village already and this generates a good number of school-aged children in each age group 5-18.

Primary Education and Early Years

Barnabas Oley Primary School, located in the very centre of Great Gransden, is one of the prized facilities of the village. It is a C of E Foundation School rated as Outstanding by Ofsted and Excellent by SIAMS (the Inspectorate for Anglian and Methodist schools). It enrolled 141 pupils in 2019/20 and has a pupil admission number (PAN) of 147. It serves the catchment area of Great and Little Gransden, Waresley and Abbotsley and admits some children from outside the catchment area when there are available places.

Of additional importance to families with children is access to pre-school and after-school provision. There is currently excellent provision in the village of a playgroup, a nursery, both rated Outstanding by OFSTED, and an after-school/school holiday club. All these are managed as businesses or not-for-profit enterprises.

Secondary Education

The village is in the catchment area of two secondary schools – Longsands Academy in St Neots and Comberton Village College. Most secondary-age children attend Comberton Village College but some attend church or private schools in Cambridge and Kimbolton. Post-16 education is provided in school sixth forms, two sixth form colleges in Cambridge and Cambridge Regional College (FE) in Cambridge.

Adult Learning

Of value to all residents are the opportunities for adult learning in the village. This is provided through specialist clubs and societies and through Carry on Learning. The Reading Room is a valuable venue for these activities.

2.12 Health Services

There are GP services in Bourn and Gamlingay. Bourn Surgery had provided a weekly clinic service in the village for many years but this was withdrawn from September 2019. There are NHS hospitals in Cambridge (Addenbrooke’s General Hospital, Royal Papworth Hospital (Specialist Heart and Lung Hospital) and the Rosie Maternity Hospital), Huntingdon (Hinchingbrooke General Hospital) and specialist NHS clinics in Cambridge and Buckden. There are also private hospitals in Cambridge.
N Day,
8 Feb 2021, 06:06