The six-week consultation on 49,000 homes that will shape Greater Cambridge for 20 years
A critical six-week consultation on the planning blueprint that will guide the development of nearly 49,000 homes in the Greater Cambridge region is to begin on November 1.
The public will be asked its views on the first proposals for the area’s Local Plan, which sets out the locations for future housing and commercial space.
Drawn up by Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, the proposals have already prompted fierce debate over how the region should develop over the next 20 years.
Most of the homes proposed in the latest document have already been earmarked for development in the existing plan for sites such as Waterbeach, Bourn Airfield, Northstowe, Darwin Green, West Cambourne and Eddington.
But the councils have also listed 19 new sites for homes and business space, including thousands of homes at North East Cambridge and the Cambridge Airport site, which Marshall is due to leave by 2030.
Conservatives in South Cambridgeshire, including MP Anthony Browne, have argued the councils have gone too far in finding room for 48,794 homes – thousands more than the government’s basic framework might suggest.
Stephen Kelly, joint director of planning and economic development for the councils, addressed this when talking to city councillors as they discussed the plans.
“There have been suggestions that what we should be doing is working to a minimum baseline,” he told the planning and transport scrutiny committee. The reasons why we have rejected that is because we can’t control the rate at which
jobs are formed by and large. Cambridge is an extraordinarily successful place and we benefit from that but there are disbenefits.”
He cited the unaffordability of housing in the city due to the high demand for property.
In order to reverse the “trend for long-term commuting”, the Local Plan proposals demand “homes are more appropriately located for those jobs”.
“I know it is convenient sometimes to suggest those jobs should go somewhere else, but the reality is that they don’t. In our case, it will be the creation of jobs that impacts the desire of people to come to Cambridge. We want to house all of those people in appropriate accommodation close to where the jobs are and we want to reduce commuting to meet the climate change objectives that everybody has signed up to, quite rightly, and address some of those quality of life and wellbeing issues.”
Independent councillor Sam Davies, who represents Queen Edith’s, questioned the idea that the councils could not influence employment growth, given that the Local Plan also considers commercial space.
Officers pointed to the growth of certain sectors in Cambridge and said the plan also needed to respond to the needs of the economy here, which is of national importance.
Cllr Tim Bick, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, argued the housing numbers were appropriate.Urban extensions, he suggested, would aid the drive towards achieving 40 per cent affordable housing.
“There are strong arguments that if we do not have a plan proposition like we’ve got that jobs growth will increase commuting into the area, which won’t be helping us with climate change, it won’t be helping us with our air quality, it won’t be helping us with our congestion.
“I think it will also be bad news for social inclusivity in Cambridge as Cambridge would become a vastly more elitist place,” he said.
Councillors on both councils have agreed to progress consultation on the plans, which also details how carbon emissions will be tackled and biodiversity increased. The documents stress that a lack of water supply could prevent the developments being realised, and calls for investment from the government and water companies.
The two existing Local Plans for the areas earmark 37,198 by 2041. Under the new joint plan, there would be:
- 6,750 new homes at North East Cambridge and at the airport site known as Cambridge East,
- 1,950 further homes at Cambourne,
- Swifter development at Waterbeach new town and Northstowe,
- An additional 1,000 new homes at Eddington, on the land already allocated for development,
- Six village sites, totalling 384 homes,
- One additional site in central Cambridge, for 20 homes.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins, lead cabinet member for planning at the district council, said: “These proposals protect our rural areas from unsustainable and inappropriate development, placing strict limits on village development between now and 2041.”
Labour’s Cllr Katie Thornburrow, executive city councillor for planning policy and transport, said: “These proposals set out a clear ambition to ensure development and regeneration works for our communities. It’s not just a plan for jobs and homes, but also puts forward bold proposals for new green spaces and better design standards.”
The consultation will run from November 1 to December 13.
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