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New North East Cambridge district of 8,000 homes to offer ‘low carbon lifestyles’




It will feature 8,000 homes and over the next 20 years is expected to provide space for 20,000 jobs.

North East Cambridge represents an entirely new district of the city – and consultation to seek the community’s views on it has begun this week.

An impression of the development
An impression of the development

The vision is for a development “fully integrated with surrounding neighbourhoods” that enables people to live “low-carbon lifestyles”.

The site lies between the A14, the guided busway and Cambridge North station and will be available once Anglian Water’s waste water treatment plant is relocated into the surrounding countryside. Consultation on this move is under way, as the Cambridge Independent has reported.

The local authorities working on North East Cambridge say they want a “lively mix of homes, workplaces, services and social spaces” with a 10-hectare “network of new green spaces” linking Milton Country Park to Chesterton Fen, and down to Nuffield Road.

There will be three schools, four centres for shops, restaurants and community facilities, 10 new walking and cycling crossings and a new guided busway stop.

But there have been questions already about whether enough open space is included in the plans for the 18,000-strong population who will eventually call the district home.

Green spaces within North East Cambridge
Green spaces within North East Cambridge

Announcing the consultation on the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan, Liberal Democrat Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins, lead cabinet member for planning South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “One of the most exciting parts is that we can create a community where everyone can get what they need on their doorstep.

“We know from lockdown that people have been doing more local trips on foot, and this district will enable a way of life where residents can get to shops, schools, different types of work, beautiful green spaces, cultural and community facilities, and public transport in just a short walk or bike ride.”

Estimate cycle times from the North East Cambridge district
Estimate cycle times from the North East Cambridge district

And Labour’s Cllr Katie Thornburrow, executive councillor for planning policy and open spaces at Cambridge City Council, added: “Our vision is for a neighbourhood that mixes homes,business space, and community services with lots of green space, so that people can spend time enjoying being outdoors.

We want a place where a strong community can grow, one with the facilities people need at hand, where everyone can easily get to the new jobs that will come into the area without having to battle traffic and where children can safely play near their home because of the way the district will be designed to encourage active travel, with streets that slow down motor vehicles.

“This new district in the north east of the city can be a model for the rest of Cambridge, as we look for ways to reduce congestion and its environmental impacts and make housing more affordable. It gives us an excellent opportunity to show how a low-carbon, sustainable neighbourhood can be a great place to live and work.”

She added: “Now we want as much feedback on the plans from residents and businesses as possible, to ensure we’re on the right track before we embark on a project that will run for over 20 years. Please let us know what you think by answering our 10 big questions online.”

The plans from the Greater Cambridge Planning Service – a partnership between the district and city councils – are built on case studies of low-carbon, low-car-use districts from around the world.

Cllr Hawkins added: “This is a really exciting opportunity for us to lead the way and show how we can create new places that prioritise community cohesion and enable a zero carbon way of life.

Estimated walking times from the new development
Estimated walking times from the new development

If we want to make systemic change we need to set our sights high, and we’re working incredibly hard to enable development that brings much-needed homes but also responds to the climate and biodiversity emergencies.

“We can only do this by building the right kind of development in the right place. With existing transport links, such as Cambridge North station, this 180-hectare brownfield site is the right place.

“It gives us a unique chance to provide the homes that people desperately need in a place where they won’t need to rely on a car to get to their jobs. And building the right kind of development means reducing the emissions resulting from construction, the energy used to heat, light and maintain buildings, and encouraging the people who will live and work here to lead low-carbon lifestyles.

“This new plan sets out our groundbreaking plans to achieve this.”

New centres within North East Cambridge
New centres within North East Cambridge

She noted: “The new network of walking and cycling routes will also make it much easier for people to travel from South Cambridgeshire villages into the new district and into the city centre without needing to rely on a car, which is essential if we are to achieve our net zero carbon ambition by 2050.”

The draft area action plan builds on consultations carried out in 2014 and 2019 and follows detailed studies on everything from biodiversity to noise and transport.

Leaflets are being delivered to 20,000 homes to gainfeedback, while the council will run online Q&A sessions.

To view the draft plan or comment, visit greatercambridgeplanning.org/nec during the consultation, which is open now and runs until 5pm on October 5.

Anglian Water’s waste water treatment works will be moved from north Cambridge
Anglian Water’s waste water treatment works will be moved from north Cambridge

The 20-year vision for the new district

  • To be inclusive, with a lively mix of homes, workplaces, services, and social spaces that are fully integrated with surrounding neighbourhoods
  • Meeting robust targets for energy use, water conservation and discouraging car use, with developers having to prove they can increase biodiversity
  • To feature a 10-hectare network of new green spaces linking Milton Country Park to Chesterton Fen, and down to Nuffield Road, to encourage active and healthy lifestyles
  • For people to be able to easily walk and cycle to work, school or college, local shops and leisure activities – a place where the car is not king, reducing car use and air pollution
  • To include 8,000 new homes, with a target of 40 per cent affordable rented and shared ownership homes
  • To have space for around 20,000 jobs
  • Four new centres within the district for shops, restaurants, community and cultural facilities
  • To include three new primary schools
  • With 10 new and improved walking/cycling crossings to reduce current barriers to people getting around safely and quickly, such as the A14 and the railway line
  • To be an innovative and forward-looking neighbourhood
Pedestrian and traffic plans
Pedestrian and traffic plans
Biodiversity objectives for North East Cambridge
Biodiversity objectives for North East Cambridge
Environmental plans for the new district
Environmental plans for the new district
Pedestrians and traffic plans for North East Cambridge
Pedestrians and traffic plans for North East Cambridge
Strategic objectives from the councils developing the district
Strategic objectives from the councils developing the district

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