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‘Build new homes near jobs - or only the rich will be able to afford Cambridge’ says city councillor as 57,000 homes plan debated





New homes must be provided near jobs to prevent more traffic problems, a councillor has stressed.

Cllr Katie Porrer (Lib Dem, Market) was talking at a city council meeting discussing the Greater Cambridge Local Plan.

Cllr Katie Porrer, a Lib Dem city councillor
Cllr Katie Porrer, a Lib Dem city councillor

In the first proposals for it, it was expected that 58,400 new jobs would be created between 2020 and 2041, but new forecasts suggests the figure will be as high as 66,600 jobs.

This means the latest version of the emerging Local Plan, which will guide development, suggests the number of new homes to be built in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire should rise from 44,400 to 51,800, with a 10 per cent ‘buffer’ taking this figure to 57,000.

Planning officers at the city council’s planning and transport scrutiny committee said the sustainability and deliverability of this would need to be examined before the figures were agreed.

Cllr Porrer (Lib Dem, Market) said this was not about “growth or no growth”, but how growth was managed.

She added that the Local Plan - being jointly developed by the city council with South Cambridgeshire District Council - made it clear that water supply issues were “deal breakers”.

She said: “If we do not provide houses near jobs then we have more traffic and just dump the problems on other areas, dump the water problems on other areas.”

Cllr Porrer added that she did not want a “two-tier system” where “only the rich can afford” to live in Cambridge.

Cllr Tim Bick, leader of the Lib Dem opposition on Cambridge City Council
Cllr Tim Bick, leader of the Lib Dem opposition on Cambridge City Council

Cllr Tim Bick (Lib Dem, Market) said he did not start from the position of considering the increased need for homes and jobs as “something toxic”.

He said the new data showed that the Greater Cambridge economy continued to grow and said they “should be proud of our local workforce achievements”.

However, he said he was aware that accommodating new homes and jobs “did not come without its own problems”, but said with the Local Plan strategy it would be for the city council as a planning authority to address them.

Cllr Sam Davies (Ind, Queen Edith’s) said there was debate in the city about “the growth agenda” and asked officers where the “middle case” was for predicted jobs.

Cllr Sam Davies, an independent city councillor for Queen Edith’s. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Sam Davies, an independent city councillor for Queen Edith’s. Picture: Keith Heppell

Officers said the Greater Cambridge area was in a “strong growth” period but said while it may feel like it is “going on and on”, consultants had advised that it would peak and slow down, based on looking at other “small strong economies” around the world.

Cllr Dave Baigent (Lab, Romsey) said he “welcomed the growth Cambridge enjoys”, but said he would like to see jobs, homes and infrastructure better linked to each other.

He said the problem of having the jobs come first, meant there were not enough homes, which he said pushed up house prices.

Cllr Baigent suggested a policy could be looked at where if an employer said they would be creating a certain number of jobs, that they could then work with a developer to bring an application for those homes.

Cllr Dave Baigent, a Labour city councillor. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Dave Baigent, a Labour city councillor. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cllr Simon Smith (Lab, Castle) said a policy where commercial property developers contributed to the housing need was an issue the authority needed to explore.

The councillors also agreed to confirm three of the proposed new development sites as part of the local plan – North East Cambridge, Cambridge East, and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Officers said they believed it was “reasonable” at this point to confirm the three strategic sites as plans for a new reservoir would enable them to support more homes beyond the 2018 plans.

As a joint Local Plan, South Cambridgeshire District Council will also need to agree the strategy update and the three sites.

A draft version of the joint local plan is expected to be published in autumn of this year, with the proposed submission plan expected to be published in autumn next year.

The authorities expect to then submit the plans to the government around summer or autumn time in 2025.



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