Cambridge Independent: “River Cam supporters urge rethink by partners of Anglian Water during protest in Cambridge”

As reported by the Cambridge Independent during one of the days in the recent Hearings by the Planning Inspectorate Friends of the Cam and others made their voices heard outside the Hilton Hotel where the hearings were taking place.

In the article a spokesperson for the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service is quoted. Part of their statement refers to “8,350” homes coming from moving the sewage works.

“A North East Cambridge area action plan is being prepared by the councils for a significant new city district on this wider area that has identified potential for 8,350 homes and 15,000 jobs as well as supporting facilities.

This figure of 8,000 homes has been used across many newspaper articles recently but this is very misleading. The truth is, the emerging Local Plan which takes us to 2041, shows that the councils are only expecting to be able to build around 50% of that number1. We know, thanks to the Planning Inspectorate’s hearings, that around 1,500 of those 4,000 can be built now without moving the sewage works at all. Save Honey Hill argues that the balance of 2,500 is just not a big enough benefit to the public to justify the move of the sewage works – it is not good value for money coming from the public purse and is not the exceptional circumstance needed to permit building on Green Belt.

Post 2041, housing is already planned in other areas that will accommodate the shortfall.

Save Honey Hill argues that the balance of 2,500 homes is just not a big enough benefit to the public to justify the move of the sewage works

Save Honey Hill
  1. Greater Cambridge Shared Planning – Local Plan First Proposals []

DCO Hearings Live streams now available

The Planning Inspectors

The latest stage on Development Consent Order (DCO) application examination by the Planning Inspectorate was three days of hearings (9th-11th January 2023) at the Hilton in Cambridge. The Compulsory Acquisition hearing and two days of Specific Issue Hearings.

As can be seen from the sheer number of recordings below the three days were long and detailed. Well done to all who attended.

The hearings were reported on by the Cambridge Independent, Cambridge News and beyond including the BBC.

Day One – Compulsory Acquisition Orders (CAH1)

As a group, Save Honey Hill is not affected by compulsory acquistion but nonetheless we were able to raise some very important questions as to why Compulsory Purchase Orders are needed when there is no compelling case to relocate the current Waste Water Treatment plant.

Day two- Issue Specific Hearing 3 on Environmental Matters (ISH3)

On day two, the Inspectors concentrated in great detail on Traffic and Transport both for construction and operational traffic and the impact on Junction 34 and the associated roads, and on Waterbeach in relation to the Waterbeach pipeline. Yet again, there were discrepancies and omissions in the Applicant’s (Anglian Water) documents which have to be corrected or questions answered by the next deadline (D4) on 22 January. This subsequently means more work for Save Honey Hill, reading the answers and commenting where necessary. The Inspector emphasised that Anglian Water and National Highways, and in some instances, Cambridgeshire County Council Highways, must talk to each other.

Carbon was also discussed and again the Inspector had searching questions with further questions raised by Save Honey Hill.

Day three – Issue Specific Hearing 3 on Environmental Matters (ISH3)

On the third day, which lasted a marathon 10 hours, Save Honey Hill raised important issues around Ecology, Water Resources, including Flood Risk, Historic Environment, Landscape, visual and design, and Green Belt.  Save Honey Hill was able to refute some of the points made by the council officer, although these were not accepted by the Applicant’s KC.

Recordings and Transcripts of the hearings

The final session of the long Day three on the Greenbelt

The hearings were all streamed live and these recordings are now available on the Planning Inspectorate’s website and YouTube:

You can view these and livestreams of all past hearings on the Planning Inspectorate’s Examination Library.

“Joint statement from local leaders and the Combined Authority Mayor on Cambridge 2040 announcement”

The Mayor and other local leaders issued a statement on the 19th December 2023 about Rt Hon Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, updated plans for the Government’s ‘Cambridge 2040’ vision.

The Government’s vision for Cambridge includes proposals for “northwards” of 150,000 new homes around Cambridge as part of a major new expansion of the city.

“Joint statement from local leaders and the Combined Authority Mayor on Cambridge 2040 announcement”

Once again Anglian Water graces the pages of Private Eye..

Private Eye report again on the debacle that is Anglian Water’s Development Consent Order (DCO) to relocate the Cambridge sewage works to unspoilt greenbelt between the villages of Horningsea and Fen Ditton.

We’ve written previously about about the DCO process and the hearings. Also about the “ticking off” referred to in the article and other criticisms that the Planning Inspectorate have made in response to Anglian Water’s application. At every stage, including representations and hearings, Save Honey Hill have responded to the Planning Inspectorate and we will continue to do so until the end. It is reassuring that we are seeing signs that the Planning Inspectors are taking note.

Press release from Save Honey Hill on Michael Gove’s speech

Long term Plan for Housing – Cambridge

"It has recently been reported in the national press that Michael Gove who has aspirations for our City along the lines of Silicon Valley and Boston, America, is seeking to supercharge development in our area. 

He said the city compared unfavourably with Boston - the US city and region that is home to a science cluster and some of the country's leading universities, such as Harvard and MIT.

It has been suggested development could include up to 250,000 new homes prompting Anthony Browne, MP for South Cambridgeshire, to call the plans 'nonsense'.

To put it in context: this would be five times the current number of dwellings in Cambridge City, twice the number currently in the City and South Cambs combined, the equivalent to 30 NECAAPS and 25 Waterbeach New Towns. At current building rates, 250,000 new homes would take 100 years to deliver.

It will be very interesting to hear what the local councils make of these aspirations and where will the water will come from?

In a government statement published yesterday, it talks about accelerating the sewage works relocation to unlock an entire new City quarter ie. NECAAP, but this is dependent on the success of the sewage works DCO application to relocate the works to Green Belt.

Michael Gove's Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has stated that brownfield should be used for housing before Green Belt is taken and yet the irony of NECAAP is that a major piece of infrastructure is destined for Green Belt in order to serve up the required brownfield.

NECAAP has yet to go to public consultation and there is certainly no guarantee it will see the light of day in its current form of high rise, high density housing. We are extremely concerned that if this DCO is granted, we could face the prospect of the sewage works being relocated to Green Belt only to find further down the road that the NECAAP development doesn't go ahead or changes in such a way that the move wasn't necessary."

June 3rd Town and U+I – wolves in sheep’s clothing at Strawberry Fair

It would appear that the core site at NECAAP has undergone a rebranding.  Town and U+I had a stall at Strawberry Fair today where they were proudly showcasing the plans for ‘Hartree’.

Here are some of the visuals on display:

For me what really stuck in the gullet was the one titled ‘A Day at Hartree’ which looks at possible future resident profiles.  It talks about key workers alongside couples who have moved from London alongside ‘global citizens’ from other countries.  I wonder if key workers really will be able to afford these apartments, and if it is attracting couples from London and further afield, how can the development be addressing the housing shortage that locals are experiencing.

I spoke to one of the people manning the stall who said that the sewage works relocation and Hartree are two completely separate projects while in the same breath saying that without the sewage works moving the development wouldn’t be able to go ahead.  He refused to accept they are linked and we had to agree to disagree in the end but it was all relatively good humoured debate. 

I also pointed out that they were stretching it to describe the development as good for the planet, “an exemplar for development fit for the challenges for the 21st Century, enabling sustainable lifestyles, enhancing nature and accelerating the transition to a net zero carbon world.”  I pointed out that they were being, at best, disingenuous and that in no way can this development be described as exemplary development fit for the blah! blah! if it depends on moving a fully functioning sewage works (one that was ‘future-proofed’ a few years back to the tune of over £20m) to Green Belt, arable farmland and pouring millions of tonnes of concrete onto a principal chalk aquifer into the bargain.

Anyways, if you have the opportunity to put anyone straight on the development and what the consequences are, I hope some of this helps with your argument.

Catherine Morris

Last Stand on Honey Hill – A review

Last Stand on Honey Hill by Liz Cotton at The Junction on 19th November 2022

Following on from her very successful stint at the Edinburgh Fringe earlier this year,  Save Honey Hill’s very own comedy songstress, Liz Cotton, finally brought her show, Last Stand on Honey Hill, to the Cambridge Junction on Saturday night.

With her marriage on the rocks and her children flying the nest, Liz has used a well-honed skill of writing comic songs to help her cope with all life can throw at her, including a billion pound private water company wanting to plonk its new sewage works on her doorstep.

Fortunately for the Save Honey Hill campaign, Liz took umbrage with these plans and decided to hang her new show around her escapades with some of the Save Honey Hill campaigners who she came to know during the course of writing campaign songs and putting together a campaign choir (The Crap Community Choir).

Saturday night’s show was a sell out and for good reason.  Liz’s reputation obviously preceded her and she did not disappoint – people had come from as far away as London.  I must confess, I didn’t really know what to expect.  Liz had warned us that her show was most definitely for adults only as it included very adult language.  But I could not have foreseen how clever and accomplished her writing skills are that her saucy and yes, at times very adult themes and language, were simply hysterically funny and not the slightest bit offensive.  Certainly for me, there was more than a hint of recognition in her song titled “Why Don’t You Know What To Do?” as she reeled off a myriad of examples of how her husband, Phil, ‘annoys’ her.

After briefly covering personal and family trials and tribulations, Liz proceeded to bring the audience up to speed with the ridiculous plans Anglian Water have for Honey Hill, ramming home with the use of video and photos, the beauty of the Fens landscape with resident wildlife, that’s being targeted by Anglian Water as the new location for its industrial plant.  Through the power of laughter, comedy and Liz’s adorable cat, Purdy, we were all reminded of why we have spent the last couple of years fighting this heinous plan and I for one am incredibly grateful to Liz for the injection of fun in what could otherwise have been a thoroughly miserable time fighting for our Green Belt.

At the end of the show, members of the It’s Crap Community Choir were on hand to join Liz on stage to debut a new number, Honey Hill Honey. They were greeted with rapturous applause and I even spied some younger members of the audience clapping and nodding approvingly with more than a hint of respect for these oldies getting down and strutting their stuff in the name of protest.

Finally, it did not go unnoticed that aforementioned, Phil (Liz’s long suffering [??] husband), was standing proudly at the back of the venue as we all headed to the bar at the end of the show.  Clearly their marriage has had a happy ending and hopefully so too will the Save Honey Hill Campaign!

The High Dyke

Dr Erik Grigg
Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln

The High Dyke in Cambridgeshire is an example of a little understood type of feature, an early medieval dyke. By dyke I don’t mean a drainage ditch (though it is in an area that understandably has quite a few), but a long linear bank constructed from material dug from an adjoining ditch dating from what used to be called the Dark Ages, that is, the centuries after the end of Roman rule. It is often considered to be part of Fleam Dyke, another better-known earthwork that also faces south (that is the bank is on the north side of the ditch) a few miles to the east (Malim et al 1996). There is a large gap between the two and Fleam is slightly curved while the High Dyke is dead straight, even if they were built for similar reasons and during the same broad period of history, the High Dyke is surely worthy of consideration on its own.

The dykes of Cambridgeshire


Such features are hard to put a date on as we have no documents recording them being built and unlike graves or settlements, a hole in the ground and a bank of earth rarely have any finds buried in them (though they often bury older features). High Dyke is unusual as a series of early medieval artefacts have been found in the monument, but these were not properly recorded using modern archaeological methods. In 1947 a shield boss was dug up, ten years later a group of skeletons with classic ‘Anglo-Saxon’ grave goods (a sword, a pommel, various spearheads, a knife and some brooches) were found and in 1963 another shield boss discovered (R.C.H.M.E. 1972 pp. 144-47). Late Roman coins found under the bank of Fleam Dyke and radiocarbon dating of organic material from the ditch fill confirms it also was built around or just after the end of Roman rule.

Late Roman coins found under the bank of Fleam Dyke and radiocarbon dating of organic material from the ditch fill confirms it also was built around or just after the end of Roman rule


Such earthworks have fascinated me since being a teenager when I discovered similar enigmatic dykes in Dorset, so much so that when I did a PhD at the University of Manchester a decade or more ago, I spent seven years visiting, surveying and writing about them (Grigg 2018). Although there slightly similar earthworks dating from the prehistoric and some later medieval dykes, the hundred I studied all seemed to be similar in location and size (up to two miles long with banks one to two metres high and six to ten metres wide) with archaeological finds or records of medieval charters (these often mention them as landmarks) seeming to confirm that the period 400 CE to 850 CE saw a lot of digging in this country.


The items found at High Dyke are unusual but not unique. Bodies and weapons have been found at other early medieval earthworks including Bran’s Ditch, the Devil’s Ditch, a linear earthwork at Heronbridge in Cheshire and various other such dykes. In the centuries after the end of Roman rule and before Christianity became the dominant religion, people were often buried with weapons so these finds could just be disturbed graves. Though not everyone buried with a sword and a shield was necessarily a warrior, the fact that it was common to bury people with weapons does suggest a society that valued being able to handle such things. The finds from the High Dyke could mean that the ditch was used as a convenient place to bury somebody who the mourners thought should be placed at rest with a sword and shield. However, at some sites the bodies are in unusually large numbers or there is evidence of cut marks to the bones or they have been buried in pieces (just a skull or the skeleton being incomplete) which suggests that we may be looking at people who died violently. They may have been executed or died in a fight. This does not prove that these earthworks had a warlike function (they may have had more than one), but with no domestic objects coming from any of these earthworks (unless they are residual Roman finds from under the banks or the odd brooch found with a body) we cannot rule out people who first used the dykes had some interest in death and violence.

However, at some sites the bodies are in unusually large numbers or there is evidence of cut marks to the bones or they have been buried in pieces which suggests that we may be looking at people who died violently.


There are famous early medieval dykes like Offa’s Dyke and Wansdyke that meander across the landscape for long distances, but they are not typical, High Dyke is in being just over a mile long. Most seem to cut across roads, they bisect ridgeways or causeway or slice valleys that carried trackways. Archaeologists have debated for years if they ever had gateways, but I have yet to see any convincing evidence of one. My theory is that they were designed to block routeways, they are rarely aligned with county or parish boundaries (High Dyke is ignored by both) so rather than being borders, they were probably set back from them and were places where the locals could gather if they got warning of a hostile raiding party to bar their access. Some have suggested that they had wooden palisades on the banks, but there is no evidence of postholes found in any of them. The bank at High Dyke has been severely damaged by having a later road running along it, perhaps this sort of destruction is why the postholes are gone? Well, if we look other structures with earth banks like prehistoric hillforts, Roman marching camps or medieval ringworks (castles with just donut-shaped earthworks) or Anglo-Saxon burhs (forts or fortified towns), we can always find the postholes somewhere; if these dykes had a palisade, then if is incredibly unlikely that no excavation has ever found a posthole.


The High Dyke is unlike the other nearby Cambridgeshire Dykes like Fleam Dyke that seem to block access along the Icknield Way to anyone wishing to enter East Anglia from the Midlands. Unlike most early medieval dykes that usually cut a road, High Dyke seals off the entrance to what would have been a peninsula of high(-ish) ground surrounded by fens (now it is the River Cam on the west, the Bottisham Lode to the north and Quy Water to the east). Does that mean that this peninsula (which is covered by the northern half of Fen Ditton and the village of Horningsea) was a special place, say with ritual or religious significance or perhaps the headquarters of the local elite? Not necessarily. There is evidence of some Romano-British settlement in this area but nothing special, no feature that suggested that it was unusual (though who knows what lies awaiting discovery). The earthwork itself probably required the shifting of ten thousand cubic metres of earth, my calculations suggest that with early medieval tools between 40 and 70 people could have built it over a Summer (the soil would have been too damp in other seasons). It was quite an easy job to do for the inhabitants of a couple of villages, a few hamlets or half a dozen farms to build this unusual feature.

Unlike most early medieval dykes that usually cut a road, High Dyke seals off the entrance to what would have been a peninsula of high(-ish) ground surrounded by fens


There are other earthworks that might date from this period that cut off peninsulas that like the High Dyke do not seem to contain any known sites of important archaeological significance. Park Pale near Topcliffe in Yorkshire, various dykes in Cornwall (like Bolster Bank though they are undated), Dane’s Dyke cutting off Flamborough Head (though that might be prehistoric) and Horning Dyke in Norfolk are all examples of dykes that cut peninsulas. Perhaps they just made a defensible small area where the locals could retreat to. Early medieval warfare probably involved a lot of intimidation, shouting, burning down of farms and chasing unarmed peasants, but when faced with a determined group of people on a large bank across an equally deep ditch, most raiders would probably go to where pickings were easier. The trouble is with this period is we can let our imagination run away with us, though I believe my theory about it being a period of frequent small-scale raids and dykes being “stop lines” dug by local farmers (and as other historians have said, moving earth is very much a peasant’s solution to a problem) is based on a sound analysis of all the evidence.

….my calculations suggest that with early medieval tools between 40 and 70 people could have built it over a Summer


High Dyke has suffered much in the past, not least through roadworks. I hope it is preserved and appreciated for future generations who will probably ask new questions, use different techniques and come to slightly different conclusions. Increasingly we are looking at features and asking how they fit into the wider landscape, just what was behind the High Dyke is likely to become a more important question to future researchers. Never forget that we never know what is under our feet and when we dig it must be done with care and carefully recorded for future generations, we can only excavate things once and who knows what new scientific techniques will be added to the archaeologist’s arsenal in the future.

Bibliography

  • Malim, T., K. Penn, et al. (1996) “New Evidence on the Cambridgeshire Dykes and Worsted R.C.H.M.E. (1972). An Inventory of the historical monuments in the County of Cambridge, Volume 2 North-East Cambridgeshire. Published by Trinity Press. [Pages 144 to 147 give a good account of the dyke]