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'Focus on creative industries' in Cambridge Northern Fringe East, says councillor

By Josh Thomas, Local Democracy Reporter

Employment land near Cambridge North should be given over to 'less affluent' creative industries rather than focusing on knowledge-economy businesses, a city councillor has suggested.

A map of the proposed Cambridge Northern Fringe East development (6615181)
A map of the proposed Cambridge Northern Fringe East development (6615181)

Romsey's Labour councillor Dave Baigent was talking at Cambridge City Council’s planning and transport scrutiny committee, where a consultation on the proposed Cambridge Northern Fringe East (CNFE) project was approved.

The area around the new railway station would be transformed by new homes, business and community spaces under the plans.

Cambridge City Council has agreed to work with land owner Anglian Water to relocate its sewage works in a joint venture to create the new city quarter.

Cambridge will find out within months whether a bid for £193million from the national Housing Infrastructure Fund to help move the works has been successful.

If it is, the relocation of the plant and the building of houses could be under way by 2024.

Early estimates say the new quarter could provide more than 5,000 residential units, and create about 7,000 new jobs.

There is high demand for commercial property for Cambridge's burgeoning science and technology industries, but Cllr Baigent suggested there was a need for more diversity.

He said: “In Cambridge, we have all our eggs in one basket with the knowledge industries. We need something that encourages other types of employment. I wonder whether we could seek out some of the things people would like to see.”

He asked whether there should be a scheme providing cheaper premises among premium business land, specifically to allow less affluent but more creative industries to set up in Cambridge.

“I understand that land will be at a premium and big companies will come in with fat wallets,” Cllr Baigent said. “But is it possible to have something like affordable housing but for businesses and have areas where those kind of industries can set up?”

Cllr Martin Smart said he did not like the idea of the new city district becoming associated solely with “knowledge industries”.

Cllr Smart said: “I can’t think of an example of a development that has been built for the creative industries from the ground up. But this sector can add to cultural vibrancy and the intellectual health of the area. This is an opportunity.”

The committee agreed to rename the scheme the 'north east area action plan', and approved it for public consultation for six weeks jointly with South Cambridgeshire District Council, which has also backed the consultation.


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