Residents will be encouraged to comment on the First Proposals for the new Local Plan, after councillors at Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils completed their formal scrutiny of the draft documents.
The public consultation, which will start on 1 November, will help to shape the final plan – which will eventually set out how Greater Cambridge will develop over the next twenty years. The proposals at this stage include 19 new sites for homes and business space, with the majority of extra development proposed for North East Cambridge and the Cambridge Airport site.
Councillors praised the proposals for their ambitious approach to meeting the environmental challenges facing the area – including tackling carbon emissions and increasing biodiversity. Planners were also commended for clearly highlighting that a lack of water supply could prevent development fully meeting the needs of the area.
37,198 homes are already planned for Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire between now and 2041. This is through existing Local Plans for the District and City Councils which were adopted back in 2018, existing planning permissions and ‘windfall’ sites expected to come forward. Proposals for the new joint Greater Cambridge Local Plan suggest the following additional housing sites for the period up to 2041:
- 6,750 new homes at North East Cambridge and Cambridge East (the airport site);
- An additional 1,950 new homes at Cambourne;
- Bringing forward development at Waterbeach new town and Northstowe at a faster rate, so these become thriving communities more quickly;
- An additional 1,000 new homes at Eddington, on the land already allocated for development;
- Six additional village sites, totalling 384 homes;
- One additional site in central Cambridge, for 20 homes.
These additions are needed, in the view of the Councils, due to the continuing strength of the Greater Cambridge economy as one of the most important research and innovation employment hubs in the UK. Planners say that making plans for fewer homes, when the number of jobs locally is expected to continue increasing, could mean more long-distance commuting and housing becoming more costly. However, the strategy is entirely dependent on water supply, and the number of new homes would need to be reduced without urgent action on new sources of water supply, such as new reservoirs, by the water industry and central government.
Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins, Lead Cabinet member for Planning at South Cambridgeshire District Council, said “These proposals protect our rural areas from unsustainable and inappropriate development, placing strict limits on village development between now and 2041. Around 37,000 homes across Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire are already in the pipeline via our current Local Plans or planning permissions that have been determined in the past few years; this is about what comes next in the decades ahead. We want to plan for good quality, affordable housing in the future, in places where residents can easily access the fantastic jobs being created locally. This means building as close to jobs and public transport as we can, and most of these sites cross the boundary between the two Councils – showing that a joint Plan is absolutely the right thing for our area. We hope that everyone will get involved in looking at the proposals and telling us what they think.”
Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transport, Cambridge City Council, 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. We cannot simply ignore the evidence that the strength of the Greater Cambridge economy means that we will need more homes in the decades ahead. We must do our utmost to ensure that these new homes are built in the right places while keeping the environment at the centre of our thinking. The proposals have been shaped by what residents told us during our First Conversation consultation last year – we hope that we’ll hear from all parts of our community about whether we’ve got the balance right.”
Consultation will start on 1 November and run for six weeks until 13 December. Visit www.greatercambridgeplanning.org/localplan for more details. An hour-long webinar that gives further details about the First Proposals, and the thinking behind them, is available via the Councils’ YouTube channels.