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Government sets out development plans in ‘Case for Cambridge’ report





Plans for massive growth in the area have been laid out in a 38-page document published by the government today.

The government released the ‘Case for Cambridge’ document, which confirms plans for a major urban quarter, following today’s Budget.

A 38-page ‘Case for Cambridge’ document has been published by the government
A 38-page ‘Case for Cambridge’ document has been published by the government

The government announced plans last year to see more laboratory space and 150,000 new homes built in the Greater Cambridge area, as part of its ‘Cambridge 2040’ ambitions to make the city the “Silicon Valley of Europe”.

While the initial ambition date was reported to be 2040, this latest document discusses what Cambridge could look like by 2050.

In the new report Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said Cambridge was the “most unequal city in the UK” and faced “significant challenges” that prevented it from reaching its “full economic potential”.

The report said housing in the city was less affordable than most other major cities and also said it was experiencing an “acute shortage” of laboratory space.

The government said it wanted to see more homes and laboratories built, but also claimed the public services and infrastructure needed for this development could be paid for through economic growth.

In one section of the report discussing potential “illustrative scenarios” for Cambridge in 2050, it said building 150,000 new homes will add approximately £6.5billion to the economy.

The report said this had the potential to translate into an annual increase of approximately £2billion from “taxes and other sources” that it said could be spent on public services.

It said: “In Cambridge there is a unique opportunity to harness future economic growth to pay for the new infrastructure needed to grow the city and increase the quality of life for residents.

“The development corporation for Cambridge, once established, will receive a long-term funding settlement at the next Spending Review.

“This will allow the corporation to start delivering on the government’s plan to unleash the economic potential of the city.

“Building on historical precedent, such as the development of the garden cities and Milton Keynes, there is huge potential to capture, for the public benefit, any increase in land value that will arise from development decisions taken in Cambridge by central and local government.”

The report also states there will be “extensive engagement and consultation” with people in the area when developing the plans for the area.

The government has made reference before to its aim of creating a new urban quarter for Cambridge.

This plan has been confirmed in the latest report where it says the government is “examining major new urban quarter opportunities”.

However, the papers provided no further information as to where the new urban quarter could be built, stating that no decisions on the location had been made.

The report said: “Any new quarter must embody the commitment to design and gentle density, built in a way that is in keeping with the historic centre and that maintains proximity to the countryside.

“A sustainable transport network will also be key – including for example, streets, bike paths and mass transit options – that connects new areas to existing ones and improves traffic flow.”

The issue of water scarcity and being able to supply new developments with water sustainably, is already present in the area.

The Environment Agency has recently objected to some new developments going ahead, until the water supply concerns are addressed.

In the Case for Cambridge the government said water scarcity is its “first priority”, recognising it is “holding back development and risks causing environmental harm”.

At the same time as publishing its report, a joint statement on addressing water scarcity in Greater Cambridge was also issued by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency, and the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service.

In this statement it said all of the bodies are committed to supporting growth in the area, but said it had to be in a way that is “sustainable, supports the economic potential of the area, protects and enhances the quality of life for residents, habitats and the environment”.

The government has also said it plans to deliver “unique offsetting intervention” to save water now by improving efficiency.

It also announced it will be appointing Dr Paul Leinster to chair the Water Scarcity Group to advise the government on future water resource options.

The report sets out that the government wants people to be able to “move freely” and highlights the importance of making sure any new developments connect to the city.

The report said: “Movement around the city should be a joy – something that is undertaken with pleasure and with ease.

“It should be natural to walk and cycle for shorter trips, with a public transport system that sets the benchmark for efficient urban mobility.

“To deliver the step-change in capacity and connectivity this ambition requires, the government envisages a transport system made up of several elements, which may range from improved walking and cycling routes to mass transit system options, such as trams and light rail.”

The report also commits the government to delivering East West Rail, which it said will improve connectivity to “other innovation and economic centres”.

The government has said the Cambridge Delivery Group, headed by Peter Freeman, is currently “reaching out and listening” to authorities in the area, as well as communities and stakeholders.

The report said the group will be setting up an advisory council in order to “build local representation into its governance framework”.

It added that the government will be moving forward with its plans to establish a development corporation, which it said will oversee the long-term works and coordination to “realise Cambridge’s full potential”.



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