Northstowe is a recently developed town located in Cambridgeshire, England, UK. With a projected population of 24,400, the town is expected to have around 10,000 homes. On April 1, 2021, Northstowe was officially designated as a civil parish, which was created by merging the parishes of Longstanton and Oakington and Westwick. 

The first town council was elected on May 6 of the same year. The development of Northstowe has been ongoing for approximately 15 years, spanning different political administrations. Originally intended to showcase sustainable practices such as utilizing renewable energy sources and reducing carbon emissions, Northstowe will still incorporate exemplary features such as a Sustainable Urban Drainage Scheme (SUDS) and transportation options limited to buses, bicycles, and pedestrians. The town is situated five miles (8 km) northwest of Cambridge, between the neighboring villages of Oakington and Longstanton. Homes England, the successor to the Homes and Communities Agency, and Gallagher Estates (a division of L&Q) are leading the development of Northstowe.


Yvette Cooper, who served as Minister for Housing and Planning at the Department for Communities and Local Government in January 2008, stated in Parliament that Northstowe was not chosen as an eco-town due to its planning application being submitted before the eco-towns program and its failure to meet zero-carbon standards. The town is connected to Cambridge and St Ives through the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway, which was opened in 2011. In 2012, Gallagher was given preliminary approval to proceed with the first phase of development, which includes 1500 homes, a primary school, road improvements, and a local center. The Pathfinder Church of England School, the primary school in the town, welcomed its first students in September 2017 and primarily served students from Longstanton for a year to allow for the redevelopment of Hatton Park Primary School. In 2015, initial approval was also granted to construct an additional 3,500 homes, a town center, three more schools (including a secondary education campus), a link road to the A14, and a road connecting the town to the Guided Busway. However, the homes in the second phase cannot be occupied until a major upgrade to the A14, which began in 2016 and was completed in early 2020, is finished. The first new homes in Northstowe were occupied in April 2017. In May 2020, outline planning applications were submitted for the third and final phase, which includes 5,000 homes, with 4,000 in phase 3a and 1,000 in phase 3b.


The former RAF Oakington, now known as Oakington Barracks, was an airfield used for Short Stirling bomber forces and other units during World War II. It continued to be used for flight training until the 1970s. From 2000 to 2010, the site was leased to the Home Office as the Oakington Immigration Reception Centre. In February 2006, the phase one Local Management Study suggested the formation of a community-based energy company that would own assets such as wind turbines or combined heat and power plants for the benefit of the town. This idea was modeled after the Vauban district in Freiburg, Germany, as well as cooperative energy companies in Denmark and Sweden. The plan also included the promotion of car clubs, cycling, and walking. 

In March 2006, the site was acquired by English Partnerships, which later became the Homes and Communities Agency and now Homes England . Planning inspectors recommended in March 2007 that the Northstowe development should consist of 10,000 homes instead of the original plan for 8,000, and that a country park was not necessary. This news was met with concern by many in the area who feared future expansion. Around the same time, Yvette Cooper, Minister for Housing and Planning at the Department for Communities and Local Government, announced that Northstowe would be built with energy and water efficiency standards up to 50% higher than conventional buildings. On May 13, 2007, Gordon Brown went even further and stated that the housing in the development would be built to zero-carbon building standards if he was elected to succeed Tony Blair as leader of the Labour Party. In response, local Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, David Howarth, urged the Chancellor to allow local authorities to impose zero-carbon standards on other developments and to invest in public transport for the new eco-towns .


On 19 December 2007, a planning application was submitted to South Cambridgeshire District Council for the proposed new town. The plans included building approximately 9,500 homes, a town center, schools, and employment areas. However, in January 2008, it was revealed that Northstowe would not be considered as an eco-town due to the fact that the planning application was submitted before the eco-towns program began, and it would not meet the zero-carbon requirement. The project was then delayed by at least a year in November 2008 due to the Financial crisis of 2007-2010. In March 2008, the Cambridge Cycling Campaign raised concerns about the inadequate provision for cycling and walking in the Northstowe planning application. In June 2009, the project was not included in the first round of approved schemes for not meeting sustainability standards, with only one scheme, Rackheath eco-town, being approved. 

However, in December 2009, it was announced that Northstowe was back on the government’s eco-town list after some redesigns were made to meet even higher sustainability standards. In February 2012, the planning authority adopted a Development Framework Document to progress the town, which included a phased approach to building a maximum of 10,000 homes over the course of 25 years, with the first phase being built to the north near the existing Longstanton park-and-ride site owned by Gallagher. In October 2012, the first phase of Northstowe was approved by South Cambridgeshire District Council, with the completion of the entire project expected to take about 25 years. In December 2014, the government announced that the Government-owned land at Northstowe could potentially be used as a test location for a new government initiative that would directly commission homes overseen by the Homes and Communities Agency.


The 2015 budget for the United Kingdom, announced by George Osborne on March 18, 2015, included plans to form a partnership with a private company to develop the Government-owned area of the town. However, this idea was ultimately abandoned.Construction began in April 2015 on the first building, a primary school, and the first homes were occupied in 2017. In 2015, permission was also granted to build 3,500 additional homes, a town center, 3 more schools (including a secondary school education campus), a link road to the A14, and a road connecting the town to the Guided Busway. The project received planning permission in January 2017. However, the homes in phase two could not be occupied until the A14 upgrade was completed.[citation needed] In April 2016, Bloor Homes was selected as the first housebuilder for the site, with plans to build 92 new homes of various sizes (up to five bedrooms).

In March 2016, Northstowe was announced as an NHS Healthy New Town, and in 2018, the town’s Healthy Living Strategy received recognition at the Landscape Institute awards.In the spring of 2018, Homes England invested £55 million to build a new road connecting the town to the upgraded A14 and other necessary infrastructure to allow for more homes to be built. Construction on the first phase of the secondary school began in November 2018 and was completed in time for the 2019-2020 academic year. The school, known as Northstowe Secondary College, is managed by the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust. In the spring of 2019, Homes England constructed their new regional office in Northstowe, using Modern Methods of Construction to promote innovation in the construction industry. In February 2020, a planning application was submitted for a new heritage center to showcase historical artifacts found on site, particularly during the construction of the upgraded A14.


As of May 2020, approximately 550 homes were occupied in Northstowe, with the Bloor Homes site completed and 5 active housebuilding sites: Bovis Homes (some marketed and sold by Domovo Homes, a subsidiary of bpha), Linden Homes, Taylor Wimpey, and Barratt Homes (under both the Barratt and David Wilson Homes brands). Development of playing fields, allotments, and public spaces was also underway. In 2020, Urban Splash and the Japanese construction company Sekesui began building the first of 406 homes in phase 2 using modular construction techniques. However, in May 2022, House by Urban Splash went into administration, leaving a few homes in the project unfinished.In the same year, Homes England submitted a Town Centre Strategy outlining plans for a new town center, with a focus on creative industries, leisure, education, high-quality food, and small-scale manufacturing

 As of July 2023, Northstowe still did not have a single open shop, GP facility, café, or sports facility. A survey of Northstowe residents showed that 76% were dissatisfied with the local services. A temporary combined community center and NHS facility, made up of nine portacabins, was opened in 2022. The town’s sports pavilion was completed in October 2023, but no opening date has been set.