Decision on 256 homes for Cambourne business park deferred due to concern it would ‘permanently harm’ ZEISS
A decision over plans for 256 new homes on land beside Cambourne business park has been deferred after microscope manufacturer ZEISS warned the development could “permanently harm” its operations.
The application from South Cambridgeshire Investment Partnership (SCIP), a joint venture set up by the district council and housebuilder Hill, proposed a range of low carbon homes, from one-bedroom flats to five-bedroom houses, with 72 of them (40 per cent) deemed ‘affordable’, some via social rent and others via shared ownership.
The development would include 808 cycle parking spaces, 492 car parking spaces at homes and 20 visitor spaces, while the existing marketing suite on the business park – now called Cambourne Park Science & Technology Campus – would be converted into a cafe.
The developer said it offered a “significant opportunity” for Cambourne, and district council officers had recommended the plans for approval, saying they were “generally compliant” with Local Plan policy and would provide a “high quality environment” for residents.
However, at a planning committee last Wednesday (October 11), they asked councillors to defer the decision after information arrives about noise and vibration after the meeting report had been prepared.
Following the meeting, Daniel Aldridge, managing director of Carl Zeiss Microscopy, part of the ZEISS Group, said he was “grateful” for the deferral.
He explained: “ZEISS fully supports the planned residential development and the provision of affordable housing in Cambourne and all that it will offer to the local community.
“ZEISS relocated to ZEISS House on Cambourne Business Park in 2019 as part of the group’s expansion plans and commitment to Cambridge and the UK. ZEISS House is directly adjacent to the eastern boundary of the application site and, at the time of relocation, early plans for the development indicated adequate space between the site and ZEISS House which is critical for ZEISS’ business operations, which are highly sensitive to environmental conditions particularly electromagnetic fields, noise and vibration.
“Following the company’s relocation, the development plans were revised to omit the adequate space between the site and ZEISS House. Based on technical assessments, the identified impact of the proposed development would immediately and permanently harm the existing operation, with a resulting critical impact on all operations and future investment at the site.
“We welcome the planning officer’s recommendation to defer the application until the South Cambridgeshire District Council planning committee has fully considered the impact that this proposed development could have on ZEISS.
“We will continue to proactively collaborate with SCIP to ensure our investment in Cambridge can co-exist comfortably alongside the development.”
There were also 97 objections from members of the public to the plan, raising concerns over the lack of jobs created on the land next to the business park if the homes are built, as well as concerns about there being “insufficient facilities” in the town to support the new homes.
Cambourne Town Council objected, saying: “The town council is concerned that even though this will be a flagship development on the doorstep of the district council office, it is not being used to set a high standard in design and place making.
“The applications amended/additional supporting documents and drawings are seeking to avoid the provision of key infrastructure including transport.
“This will set a poor precedent when the district council is trying to get other developers to put the correct infrastructure in place to build new communities.”
The committee unanimously agreed to defer the application after officers said they needed time to “fully review” the new technical information.
Additional reporting: Hannah Brown, Local Democracy Reporter