Balancing major growth with quality of life in South Cambs
Council pushes through major transformation plan
South Cambridgeshire is frequently named as one of the best rural places to live in the UK but over the next few years it is destined for even greater things under a new corporate plan for the region.
Covering 350 square miles of countryside around Cambridge and with a population of 156,500, South Cambridgeshire is set for further transformation under a bold new four-point plan aimed at balancing growth and sustaining its current success.
The first residents have already moved into the area’s first town, Northstowe, which will eventually boast 10,000 homes, and the district council is working hard to ensure residents can afford to live in the area, irrespective of whether they were born and grew up in South Cambridgeshire, or move to the area to work.
Further growth is planned at West Cambourne, where outline permission is in place for 2,350 new homes and £45million of community and sporting facilities, including a swimming pool, athletics track, BMX track and sports pavilion.
The council has identified four key themes for its ‘Your Place, Our Plan’ scheme, which was given approval at a full council meeting on Thursday (February 22).
■ Living well: Supporting
communities to remain
in good health
■ Homes for the future: Delivery of a wide range of housing for existing and future communities
■ Connected communities: Working with partners to ensure new transport and digital infrastructure
■ Innovative and Dynamic: Adopting a more commercial
and business-like approach to get the best services at the lowest cost.
Cllr Peter Topping, the Conservative leader of the council, is excited by the prospect of further growth in the region and is determined to ensure the good work is carried on after the local elections in May.
He told the Cambridge Independent: “We’ve always had a corporate plan but in the past district councils have seen it as an internal document. I think we needed to get out there and communicate with businesses and the residents of South Cambridgeshire to show them with is what is going to happen and this is what we are going to do.
“The important thing this year is that we did do some listening and talking to residents to try and get a sense of what their concerns were and try and reflect that into this plan.
“All the things we are planning to do will come from the budget that the district council has and will come from the rates and the precepts.
“Northstowe, for example, will eventually have 10,000 houses but that will be well into the 2020s. It is important though to set out what we are planning to do next year and for the next three years. I was at Northstowe last week and there are things happening there – not just houses. We are starting to do work with the developers at Waterbeach and particularly there is a rail station there that has to be relocated.
“These are big things because South Cambridgeshire’s economy is growing more than seven per cent a year and we have to, as a district council, make sure the infrastructure is built to keep up with all that. If you are a young scientist and you have a family, we want to make sure that they are thinking that there is plenty of stuff they can do, like cycle routes and sports.
“We want the government and the Combined Authority to push ahead with Cambridge South station, because that will make it easier for people to live in a village in South Cambridgeshire and get a train into the Addenbrooke’s site, for example. All you need at Cambridge South station is the tracks and the platforms and it doesn’t have to be much more than that. Cambridge North is quite something but it took longer than it should. These are exciting times. The important thing is that we are going to get new people coming to live in the district and one of reasons they want to do that is because of green space and connectivity. We need to hang on to that and get the balance right.
“We have elections in May and my priority is to ensure that the work the Conservatives have done is continued and that is my focus.”