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Newnham bids for Cambridge's first neighbourhood plan

By Ben Comber

South Newnham Neighbouhood Forum Workshop 2
South Newnham Neighbouhood Forum Workshop 2

A city neighbourhood could be the first in Cambridge to set out its official stance on where development should take place and what needs to be protected.

Residents in the south of Newnham are putting together a Neighbourhood Plan designed to give the community a chance to decide the future of the places where they live and work.

The acting chair of the new forum, Lynn Hieatt, told the Cambridge Independent: “It’s been an opportunity for our community to get together and describe what we love about the place we live in.

“We’ve held a series of workshops looking at our neighbourhood objectively. It’s about gathering views and information from people who live and work in our area, piece by piece, so that a picture begins to emerge.”

Once established, the plan acts as a hyper-local addition to the Local Plan, influencing requirements for developers who have their eye on the area.

“This is not ‘anti-development’, or about putting our neighbourhoods in aspic, or about Nimbyism,” Lynn added. “Development is already happening all around us and at a tremendous pace.

“In fact, this is about welcoming good development, describing what it might look like, what people want.

“They want beauty, they want a connection to the natural environment, they want places where people can interact.

“We weren’t surprised to find that at the top of the list of what people love about this place was our local shops, which really make this a community.

“One thing we hadn’t realised was how much people value the informal places where people post notices; those spots where people run into each other and meet new people over conversations. These are the things that make a place liveable and enjoyable.

“Of course, we still have a long way to go on actually drafting the plan, but we’re getting there.

“Now that we have started, and the planning officers have a template for the process, we expect other neighbourhoods might be interested in the process and we are keen to support them.”

The current consultation will determine the area that the South Newnham Neighbourhood Forum speaks for. People who live, work or carry out business in the area can contribute until March 6.

For more, contact Lynn Hieatt at southnewnhamnp@gmail.com.


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