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Local Plan reaction: South Cambridgeshire residents must be heard, says Tory opposition leader



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Residents’ voices must be listened to, the Conservative opposition leader on South Cambridgeshire District Council has said, after locations for tens of thousands of homes were put forward by developers.

Cllr Heather Williams was talking after a list of 656 sites, covering 16,103 hectares, was unveiled.

The sites suggested for development by landowners and developres in Greater Cambridge as part of the Local Plan process, released in September 2020 (42290752)
The sites suggested for development by landowners and developres in Greater Cambridge as part of the Local Plan process, released in September 2020 (42290752)

It follows a call for sites from the district council and Cambridge City Council , working together on the Local Plan for Greater Cambridge to 2040.

The process enables landowners and developers to suggest where homes could be built and commercial space provided.

The suggestions include some huge developments in South Cambridgeshire - as we have detailed separately - including proposals for 10,000 homes for agricultural land around Elsworth, Boxworth, Knapwell, 8,000 on land to the west of Scotland Road at Dry Drayton and 7,000 at Linton.

The proposals are bound to raise serious concerns about the character of the district.

However, most of them will not be required. While the proposals cover enough for a couple of hundred thousand homes, the next Local Plan is expected to identify room for between 5,000 and 30,000 new homes. This is in addition to the 36,400 for which there are plans in place.

In total, this means the Greater Cambridge area, which had 121,000 homes in 2017, is expected to need between 40,900 and 66,700 homes by 2040.

The sites will be examined and whittled down over the coming year, with a public consultation on preferred options due to launch next autumn.

Cllr Williams said: “I am acutely aware of the anxieties that many residents will have due to the quantity of sites put forward given it is enough for 220,000 houses, though it is important to remember that the actual amount required will be significantly lower.

“I think it is important that residents realise this is a long process as an opportunity to officially comment will not be until the summer/autumn of 2021.

“I very much hope and will push for the council to open for comments as soon as possible, residents’ voices need to be heard and listened to through this process.”

Where should new developments be built? The Local Plan process is designed to determine the answers
Where should new developments be built? The Local Plan process is designed to determine the answers

Meanwhile, Cllr Nigel Cathcart of the Labour group on South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “The number of houses in the existing local plan is already sufficient for local purposes and it is difficult to justify a significant increase without damaging the character of the south Cambridgeshire villages.

“If there are any additional allocations it must ensure that houses and jobs are closely related for sustainability reasons and to avoid unnecessary travelling. What is paramount is to ensure that the diversity and character of our villages is maintained which is what other local plans have, by and large, managed to do.”

Also among developers’ ideas for South Cambridgeshire are:

  • 4,200 homes on land to the west of the M11 and north of Madingley Road, Madingley
  • 4,000 homes on land north and south of the A428 at Croxton
  • 3,596 homes on land north east of Bourn
  • 2,300 homes on land south of School Lane and east of A1198, at Cambourne
  • 1,820 homes on land west of Broadway and south of Beaufort Road in Cambourne
  • 1,148 homes and 15,300 square metres of commercial space on land at Robinson Farm, Cambridge Road, Sawston, plus 1,123 homes on agricultural land east of Cambridge Road, 225 homes on land to the north of Mill Lane and 238 east of Huddleston Way
  • 987 homes on land to the east of Haverhill Road, Stapleford
  • 880 homes on arable land south of Babraham Road at Shelford Bottom
  • 500 homes on agricultural land and a playing field at Hinton Road, Stapleford
  • and many more.

The biggest suggested development for the region is for 12,000 homes at Cambridge Airport , which is expected once Marshall has vacated the site by the end of the decade.

Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins, lead cabinet member for planning for the ruling Liberal Democrats at South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “We know some of our residents may worry about sites in their villages that have been put forward through the Call for Sites process; please be reassured that no suggested sites have any planning status at this point in time.

“There is far, far more land submitted than will possibly be needed to meet the numbers of new homes we may need to plan for, and we won’t be choosing any sites that don’t meet strict tests for their suitability and sustainability.”

The councils have employed specialists to examine how the Local Plan can respond to the challenges of climate change and water requirements.

Green sites put forward for protection from development - covering a total of 28,875 hectares between them - are also being examined.

You can find out more at greatercambridgeplanning.org/localplan where you can also find an interactive map of all the sites proposed.

Additional reporting: Ben Hatton, Local Democracy Reporter

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