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66,700 homes could be built in Greater Cambridge by 2040, under new Local Plan




More than 30,000 extra homes – above those already in the pipeline – could be built in the Greater Cambridge area by 2040, according to early calculations.

A six-week consultation as part of the first steps to create the Greater Cambridge Local Plan has begun.

Waterbeach new town (27585069)
Waterbeach new town (27585069)

It will be build on the existing plan, which already features major developments at Waterbeach, Bourn Airfield, Cambourne West, Northstowe and Eddington.

Economic growth means the authorities predict 66,700 homes may be required for the period from 2017, when the data starts, to 2040 – only 36,400 of which are already earmarked.

Residents are being urged to get involved and have their say on the plan dubbed “the most important document most people have never heard of” by the councils involved.

Questions are being posed around the key themes of climate change, biodiversity and green spaces, wellbeing and social inclusion, and great places – all underpinned by homes, jobs and infrastructure.

Local Plan facts and figures. Graphic: Cambridge Independent
Local Plan facts and figures. Graphic: Cambridge Independent

For the first time, Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council are working together to create a joint local plan for the two areas.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s lead cabinet member for planning, Cllr Tumi Hawkins, said: “This is a very exciting few weeks – it’s not often we all have the chance to get involved in shaping such an important document that touches so many areas of our lives.”

She continued: “We’re calling the Local Plan ‘the most important document most people have never heard of’ because it impacts on so much, whether it’s what kind of new homes get built and where, where businesses can grow and how buildings and spaces should be designed. Protecting and enhancing the environment of course is vital alongside all these considerations.

“There are choices to be made and we’re absolutely determined to reach as many people as we can – especially those who don’t normally have their voices heard in the planning process.”

When finalised, the Local Plan, which it is hoped will be adopted in 2023, will set out where development will take place, and identify land for new housing, community facilities, shops and employment while meeting the climate change challenge, helping to create great places where people can lead happy and healthy lives up to 2040.

The current 2018-adopted Local Plans for the two areas cover the period from 2011 to 2031, although a number of large-scale developments, like the new settlements of Northstowe, the new town north of Waterbeach and new village at Bourn Airfield will take longer to be completed.

Previous plans for the Greater Cambridge area prioritised development firstly within Cambridge, then on the edge of Cambridge, at new settlements close to the city, and at better-served villages.

It is likely that the most suitable strategy for the next Local Plan will again involve a balance of these strategies.

A map of how Greater Cambridge will develop, based on developments approved in the 2018 Local Plan (27588521)
A map of how Greater Cambridge will develop, based on developments approved in the 2018 Local Plan (27588521)

Key sites already identified for development include:

  • the area around Cambridge North station, and the Anglian Water site, which while identified in the 2018-adopted plan were not used to meet the area’s growth targets; and
  • Cambridge Airport, which Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group intends to vacate by 2030.

The councils’ current calculations using the government’s standard method indicate a need for 1,800 homes per year, or 40,900 homes for the suggested plan period of 2017-2040, with 36,400 homes already in the pipeline to be built over that period.

However, the recent Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Review (CPIER) showed that jobs growth has been faster than expected, and that growth is likely to continue.

Anglian Water treatment works in north Cambridge
Anglian Water treatment works in north Cambridge

“As a result, demand for new housing in this area has been exceptionally high and housebuilding has not kept up,” the consultation explains, adding: “While there is much more work to do on this, a rough indicative calculation based on CPIER suggests that if the jobs growth is achieved, around 2,900 homes a year would need to be built in Greater Cambridge – an indicative total of 66,700 homes over 2017-2040.”

This figure is not, however, legally binding.

The consultation adds: “Making the additional provision that would provide flexibility to support our potential economic growth suggests identifying sites for around an additional 30,000 homes in the next Local Plan.”

Anthony Browne. Picture: Keith Heppell. (27585204)
Anthony Browne. Picture: Keith Heppell. (27585204)

South Cambridgeshire’s Tory MP Anthony Browne warned this risked turning the area from a rural to an urban area.

He said: “Already the roads are gridlocked with public services that are struggling to cope, and it will get far worse. It will ruin the quality of life here and seriously damage the environment. It has to stop. We need less development, not more.”

He warned the targets would mean “simply concreting over South Cambridgeshire”.

Both councils said they were determined to ensure as many people as possible have their say.

In the coming weeks, videos on social media are set to play a key role in spreading the word about this consultation among groups who don’t usually get involved in planning issues.

An accessible, plain English website with a glossary of planning terms has also been created at greatercambridgeplanning.org.

Runway Park development at Bourn Airfield
Runway Park development at Bourn Airfield

A roadshow will be taken to locations around Greater Cambridge including shopping centres, schools, community centres and other places where the councils can reach out to as many people as possible, making it easy for them to spend a few minutes finding out more and sharing views.

The consultation, officially titled ‘Issues and Options’, runs until 5pm on Monday, February 24.

It is expected to take around four years to create the next Local Plan and this first conversation is the first step to help local people get involved the whole way through.

Both councils are committed to growing our economy and planning for new homes and a range of jobs which meet the needs of the community. Both have declared a climate emergency and so the Local Plan is an important tool to help both authorities as they work towards becoming a net zero carbon society and towards the target of doubling biodiversity.

At a new development in Anstey Way, Cambridge, are, from left, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Cllr Richard Johnson, Cllr Richard Robertson and Tom Hill from Hill. Picture: Keith Heppell
At a new development in Anstey Way, Cambridge, are, from left, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Cllr Richard Johnson, Cllr Richard Robertson and Tom Hill from Hill. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge City Council’s executive councillor for planning policy and open spaces, Katie Thornburrow, said: “It’s so important to us that we reach people who don’t usually comment on big issues like this and we’re working incredibly hard to reach everybody, especially those who can find it difficult to get involved for different reasons.

“We have the chance to make sure we have the right homes, jobs, transport, services and facilities in the right places in the decades ahead – while ensuring we preserve and enhance the environment at the same time.This is no easy task and will mean balancing many competing priorities and issues – and this is why we are determined to make it easier than ever before for people connected to Greater Cambridge to have their say. Please do give us your ideas because this really is our future.”

Have your say at greatercambridgeplanning.org.

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