6.1 Jobs

Map showing proposed locations and amounts of employment floorspace in the Area Action Plan.

Figure 30: Map graphic showing broad locations and quantum of employment space envisaged for North East Cambridge

North East Cambridge already plays a significant economic role locally and nationally. With its easy access to a skilled workforce and its transport links via walking, cycling, public transport, road and air, the area is an attractive business location, and we would like this to continue. Industry is a key component of Greater Cambridge's economy and North East Cambridge is also a strategic site in this regard given its proximity to the city centre as well as the strategic highway and railway network.

We are planning for a range of spaces supporting jobs across all forms of business and industry, and our studies show that this could create up to 20,000 new jobs in the area. We believe there is space to intensify existing business parks, which are low-density and car-dominated, as well as creating new workspace on the east side of Milton Road. We also want the current amount of industrial floorspace to be consolidated within Cowley Road Industrial Estate, through using land more efficiently, reducing vehicle movements and providing better quality, more flexible buildings.

Location of business uses

  • We asked whether offices and R&D premises should be located across North East Cambridge in order to intensify the existing employment sites and create a mixed-use city district across the wider Area Action Plan area. Generally, there was support for this approach in order to enable people to live close to jobs.

How your comments have been taken into account

  • Reflecting your comments, the draft Area Action Plan distributes employment uses across the area. This will enable the delivery of a mixed-use city district where homes, jobs and facilities are easily accessible and motorised transport is minimised. In terms of an economic model, it also maximises opportunity for collaboration which is an important ingredient for innovation.
  • The proposed policy provides clarity in respect of existing employment sites that wish to intensify. The adopted 2018 Local Plans promote good economic growth and this policy enables opportunities to increase the number of jobs in a plan led approach.

Types of business we should be planning for

  • We also asked you about the specific types of employment in this area and whether we should be planning for a particular business type. Whilst there was some support for solely focussing on science and technology, you mainly supported the need to ensure that there are opportunities within North East Cambridge for start up companies and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to establish themselves and then grow within the area through the provision of 'move on spaces'.
  • There was also broad support for the Area Action Plan to be flexible in its approach to new development, so that development is able to respond to future economic conditions and changing business needs.

How your comments and options have been taken into account

  • Reflecting your comments, the proposed policy does not seek to promote or restrict a particular type of employment space but does set out a broad level of support where these types of spaces contribute towards delivering the overarching vision and objectives for North East Cambridge.

Amount of new businesses we should be planning for

  • Some comments felt that there is an imbalance in North East Cambridge between the number of jobs and homes. In order to rebalance the existing situation, some comments stated that there should be no further employment growth in this area and the Area Action Plan should solely focus on creating new homes.

How your comments have been taken into account

  • Whilst one alternative option was to cap employment at existing levels, this could undermine the potential for good economic growth, which could have significant implications locally and across Greater Cambridge as well as leading to fewer possibilities for new employment development where a need is demonstrated. Enabling a range of new business development to take place at North East Cambridge creates the opportunity for a diverse range of employment types to come forward which has the potential to improve social mobility and serve the needs of not only Greater Cambridge and beyond, but importantly new residents to this area.

Industrial uses

  • Several concerns were raised regarding the displacement of industrial uses around Nuffield Road, and that the retention of associated jobs and services was important for the diversity of the local and Greater Cambridge economy. Comments mentioned that relocation should only be explored when appropriate and viable alternatives were identified. It was mentioned that proximity to Cambridge city centre would be key for any industrial uses re-located off-site.
  • There was a general view that all relocations of existing industrial land would need to ensure that environmental health concerns, including contaminated land, odour, noise and air pollution, need to be clearly identified and mitigated.
  • Many comments agreed low density industrial uses could be re-provided in more efficient and denser sites. Several comments indicated that re-provision would need to ensure a variety of different opportunities for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and creative industrial uses.
  • One comment mentioned that the diversity of units would provide long-term flexibility for the future. Some comments caveated that any intensification of industrial uses would have to ensure there is no negative impact on the local townscape.
  • There were several comments relating to the impact of industrial uses on vehicle trip generation. Some of these mentioned how consolidation of industrial uses would provide an opportunity to reduce overall trips. Others mentioned how consolidation away from Nuffield Road could provide an opportunity to reroute HGV trips away from adjacent residential areas and improve the pedestrian environment along the southern part of Nuffield Road.
  • There was an objection to the redevelopment of Trinity Hall Industrial Estate as a residential led mixed-use scheme.

How your comments and options have been taken into account

  • In line with your comments, the proposed policy aims to maintain the current level of industrial floor space. Intensification is being proposed as an opportunity to take advantage of existing land inefficiencies and provide potential for the modernisation of retained units to meet modern business needs. A range of units are envisioned to be delivered to enable existing industrial businesses to adapt to future needs and to provide space for new start-up companies to make a contribution towards good growth for the area.

The separation of industrial traffic from residential streets is a priority for the Area Action Plan to ensure that North East Cambridge can deliver on its placemaking and good growth objectives. This is set out in Policy 21: Street hierarchy and Policy 20: Last mile deliveries, which outlines how delivery vehicles should be managed to consolidate deliveries.

(16) Policy 12a: Business

Applications which create new employment floorspace and promote increased jobs and job densities in the Area Action Plan area will be supported where they are consistent with the other policies of the Area Action Plan and adopted Local Development Plan.

Development proposals will be required to demonstrate how they will support:

  • Intensification of business (B1a office, B1b research and development, B1c light industrial) floorspace (gross internal area) on site and the introduction of higher density development that increases employment opportunities;
  • Opportunities for start-up and small and medium enterprises;
  • A mix of new high quality and flexible workspace to facilitate new business formation and growth of existing businesses seeking 'move on' space;
  • Flexible and adaptable buildings that can respond to future business needs;
  • Innovation and collaboration through the provision of co-working spaces;
  • Affordable rental space where feasible;
  • Quality public realm and physical environment;
  • The increased use of sustainable modes of travel and reduction in private car use in accordance with the Trip Budget (see Policy 16: Sustainable Connectivity and Policy 22: Managing motorised vehicles); 
  • A mix of uses including housing, retail and/or community and cultural uses, unless such a mix would demonstrably conflict with the other policies of this plan (including Policy 25: Environmental Protection).

Specifically, by land parcel:

  1. Anglian Water/Cambridge City Council site: This area will be transformed into a residential led mixed-use area which will include an element of new business floorspace primarily located within and in close proximity to the District Centre and Cowley Road Neighbourhood Centre.
  2. Cambridge Business Park: This area will undergo significant change through the introduction of new land uses. An employment led mixed-use development will be achieved through the intensification of business floorspace brought forward alongside retail and community uses and new homes.
  3. Cambridge Science Park: The principle source of business space development in North East Cambridge will be the intensification of employment floorspace within this area. This will include the redevelopment of existing under-utilised premises including associated car parks and the introduction of other supporting uses.
  4. Chesterton Sidings: New business space will be created in this area alongside homes and other employment, retail and community floorspace to create a mixed-use area, based around Cambridge North Station and the Station Approach Local Centre. This area will be a key gateway to both the site and wider area.
  5. Cowley Road Industrial Estate: There is the opportunity to introduce additional business floorspace in this area to complement the adjacent residential and light industrial uses. Business space in this location should also form part of the long-term relocation of employment floorspace from Nuffield Road Industrial Estate. Redevelopment in this area should not result in the net loss of B1 floorspace.
  6. Nuffield Road Industrial Estate: In order to minimise the number of commuter and commercial delivery trips along Nuffield Road, this area is identified for residential uses only (see Policy 13a: Housing). Therefore, proposals for new business floorspace within this area will not be supported. Proposals for the loss of employment accommodation in this area will need to firstly demonstrate that it will be re-provided within Cowley Road Industrial Estate in the first instance and secondly within the wider Area Action Plan area if this is not feasible.
  7. St John's Innovation Park: This area will be redeveloped to support existing and future business needs. This will include the redevelopment of existing under-utilised premises, including associated car parks, and the introduction of other supporting uses.
  8. Trinity Hall Farm Industrial Estate: There are opportunities in this area for a small uplift in business floorspace through the comprehensive redevelopment of the site. This will need to consider how the site sits in relation to the Area Action Plan Spatial Framework as well as existing and future adjacent land uses.
  9. All other areas: Additional business floorspace in all other areas will generally not be supported unless the site can be brought forward as part of a mixed-use residential led scheme and will not have an adverse impact on the trip budget (see Policy 16: Sustainable Connectivity and Policy 22: Managing motorised vehicles).

The Area Action Plan makes provision for up to 234,500m2 net additional B1 floorspace in accordance with the distribution set out in the table below. These will need to be considered alongside the other policies of the Area Action Plan, Spatial Framework and other supporting diagrams as well as the adopted local development plans. Particular reference is drawn to Policy 22: Managing motorised vehicles, to ensure that future B1 development does not compromise the trip budget for the area and Policy 25: Environmental Protection.

Development parcel

Additional B1 floorspace

Anglian Water / Cambridge City Council site

Up to 23,500m2

Cambridge Business Park

Up to 68,000m2

Cambridge Science Park

Up to 70,000m2

Chesterton Sidings

Up to 36,500m2

Cowley Road Industrial Estate

No let loss of existing plus the re-provision of floorspace from Nuffield Road Industrial Estate

Nuffield Road Industrial Estate

No net loss through the re-provision of existing floorspace to (i) Cowley Road Industrial Estate, or (ii) the wider Area Action Plan area

St John's Innovation Park

Up to 35,000m2

Trinity Hall Farm Industrial Estate

Up to 1,500m2


Up to 234,500m2

Proposals which exceed these figures will need to be justified in terms of the impact on the trip budget and Area Action Plan wide infrastructure and where the character, role and function of an area will not be compromised.

(6) Policy 12b: Industry, storage and distribution

Development should ensure there is no net loss of B2 (general industrial) and B8 (storage or distribution) floorspace in North East Cambridge. The redevelopment of existing premises and the provision of new industrial floorspace should consolidate current activities and promote a mix of uses that includes light industrial, offices, storage and distribution. Residential uses should also be considered where a suitable solution can be achieved to protect residential amenity and the operational requirements of the industrial uses.

Development proposals should:

  1. As a minimum, retain the existing amount of industrial (B2 and B8) floorspace within Cowley Road Industrial Estate;
  2. Re-provide the existing industrial (B2 and B8) floorspace on Nuffield Road Industrial Estate (Gross floor area) to Cowley Road Industrial Estate through the redevelopment of existing plots and / or through new development at land at the northern end of Chesterton Sidings adjacent to the Cambridge North East Aggregates Railheads (as shown in Figure 11);
  3. Seek to accommodate existing Nuffield Road and Cowley Road businesses in newly consolidated industrial sites;
  4. Ensure that industrial floorspace is flexible and adaptable to meet current and future business needs;
  5. Ensure that industrial development proposals design out Environmental Health concerns in line with the relevant Cambridge Local Plan Policies;;
  6. Where over 1,000 m2 net additional floorspace, provide 10% of the new floorspace to be affordable industrial workspace, subject to scheme viability.. This should be secured for a minimum of 30 years at rents that are appropriate to the viability of the business.

Industrial Development Areas

The following development areas identified on the Area Action Plan Spatial Framework will be acceptable for industrial uses:

B2 – General Industrial (minimum floorspace)

  • Cowley Road Industrial Estate (4,500 m2)
  • Chesterton Sidings (4,800 m2)

B8 – Storage and distribution (minimum floorspace)

  • Cowley Road Industrial Estate (13,000 m2)
  • Chesterton Sidings (4,000 m2)
  • Cambridge Science Park (1,150 m2)

Small logistics and last mile delivery hubs that are under 1000 m2, will be supported outside of the identified industrial areas provided they are in accordance with Policy 20: Last mile deliveries and Policy 25: Environmental Protection.


Developments should proactively intensify B2 and B8 uses through more efficient use of land than the existing industrial premises within North East Cambridge. This should be delivered by:

  • achieving higher plot ratios;
  • the development of mezzanines;
  • the introduction of flexible units;
  • multi-storey proposals for mixed-use development schemes through vertical stacking that include other uses including employment and residential uses.

Mixed use

New mixed-use developments that can intensify industrial floorspace will be encouraged, particularly where they can deliver residential apartments. These developments should be of high-quality design, ensuring that a suitable design solution can be found to protect both industrial business operations and residential amenity (see Policy 25: Environmental Protection).

Illustration showing examples of industrial mixed use building typologies

Figure 31: [Insert: Industrial mixed use typologies – Axonometric/isometric diagrams]

Relevant objectives: 3, 5

North East Cambridge already plays a significant economic role locally and nationally. The city's future economic prosperity, and its contribution to the economic growth of Greater Cambridge, will be dependent on how successfully it can take advantage of its international reputation as a high technology and innovation cluster. Nevertheless, it is crucial that this is done in a careful and sensitive way, so that short term economic growth does not undermine the quality and character of the city and the wider area, and the quality of life for its citizens.

The amount of employment floorspace identified for North East Cambridge has the potential to provide a significant increase in the quantity of B1 accommodation in the area to meet future business needs. The adopted 2018 Local Plans support economic development in this location. This approach will be continued in the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan, supported by the necessary district wide social, cultural and physical infrastructure including high quality communications via the latest generation of high-speed broadband.

Whilst it is important to bring forward large amounts of employment space across the North East Cambridge site, evidence demonstrates that office development currently draws more traffic into the North East Cambridge area than any other form of development. Therefore the amount of employment space and its distribution across the site, set out in this policy, has been carefully considered against the need to create a more balanced mix of uses and wider community at North East Cambridge, as well as the requirements set out in Policy 22: Managing motorised vehicles .

Business space (B1 use class)

The area currently contains several employment parks, including Cambridge Science Park, St Johns Innovation Park and Cambridge Business Park. These sites contain high quality office (B1a) and Research and Development (R&D) (B1b) premises which include a combination of successful businesses and start up companies. There are a number of smaller business premises located within Trinity Hall Farm, Cowley Road and Nuffield Road Industrial Estates. Planning permission has also been granted for a new business development adjacent to Cambridge North Station.

Cambridge Science Park and St Johns Innovation Park benefit from an excellent location adjacent to strategic transport infrastructure and close links to the University of Cambridge and associated Colleges. However, there are opportunities to maximise their potential, including increasing the scale and range of activities within them. In particular, the area has further potential to support business start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to capitalise on the high-quality research undertaken by the university and colleges, as well as the established businesses already in this area. There are also opportunities to build the relationship between these employment parks and Cambridge Regional College. This would support the underlying principles of innovation districts and the interrelationship between education, industry and innovation.

Cambridge Business Park is a successful and economically thriving business location. It is a key location within the Area Action Plan area, and currently forms a barrier between the existing communities in East Chesterton and the proposed District Centre. In order to respond to business needs over the plan period, there are landowner and Council aspirations to redevelop the site as an employment led mixed-use area that will also form part of the District Centre.

Within areas to the north of Cowley Road, new employment floorspace will support the continued growth of North East Cambridge, and strengthen other key sectors such as business, financial and professional services. There is also evidence that SMEs in this area are planning for growth, but most cite space availability and/or affordability as a key constraint in achieving this aspiration. Therefore in these areas, new B1 floorspace should provide a diverse range of jobs and business opportunities including spaces to support SMEs which are vital to both this new city district and the wider local economy. These include co-working, start-up and grow-on spaces as well as serviced offices located within existing office buildings or new mixed-use developments. The uses will range from B1a to B1c. Due to affordability issues for SMEs within this area and wider Greater Cambridge, an element of affordable rental space may be required to support the incubation of SMEs. New space, including grow on spaces, will also support business growth in this area whilst new jobs created in this area are retained locally.


Industrial uses in North East Cambridge are currently clustered at Cowley Road and Nuffield Road Industrial Estates. There is around 16,000m2 of storage and distribution (B8) across these two sites and 5,750m2 of general industrial (B2) uses. The unit sizes are typically smaller compared to more suburban sites in South Cambridgeshire, with 71% of units being smaller than 500m2, around 12% being between 500-1,000m2, and 17% between 1,000-5,000m2. There is a very low industrial vacancy in North East Cambridge, highlighting the demand for industrial use in this area.

The emerging Greater Cambridge Economic Land Review identifies that Cambridge has lost around 35% of its industrial floorspace over the past 20 years. Given the importance of industrial uses to both the needs of Greater Cambridge's economy and local jobs, the Area Action Plan seeks to protect industrial floorspace. Consolidation of industrial uses provides opportunities to increase the number of new homes within North East Cambridge without losing the industrial capacity currently on site.

Of the two industrial estates (Nuffield Road and Cowley Road) Cowley Road has been identified as the most appropriate location to consolidate industrial uses. Expanding the current Nuffield Road industrial estate would not complement North East Cambridge's aims for good growth as there is increased potential for conflict between industrial uses and the neighbouring existing residential areas, in particular the mixing of residential and industrial traffic on Nuffield Road. The location of Cowley Road Industrial Estate means that new development in this area can minimise conflict between industrial traffic and residential areas (see Policy 21: Street hierarchy) and provide a suitable industrial buffer to the Aggregates Railheads and also serve neighbouring residential areas through the enhanced pedestrian and cycle routes identified on the Spatial Framework.

The Mixed Use Development Paper (2020) highlights that industrial development at North East Cambridge is both feasible and deliverable using a higher plot ratio, potentially up to 65% (the ratio of a building's total floor area, as a proportion of the total plot upon which it is built). This will be further informed by the emerging Greater Cambridge Employment Land Review. In order to accommodate the amount of industrial floorspace identified in the policy, development proposals significantly lower than a 65% plot ratio will need to demonstrate that they will not compromise the delivery of the overall floorspace identified in the policy. Intensification also seeks to increase servicing efficiency to minimise trips and the impact on the transport network. All developments must demonstrate how their operational impacts will comply with the trip budget (see Policy 22: Managing motorised vehicles).

Mixed use development is intended to maximise the potential for North East Cambridge to deliver housing and industrial floorspace simultaneously. Developers should therefore consider the potential to relocate businesses in creative, space-efficient development forms which could include vertical stacking and include residential dwellings above. Some occupiers may be better suited to consolidation depending on their requirements, for example, a group of businesses all operating as trade counters, could be better suited to sharing certain services compared to others. This should include an assessment of affordability, size, quality and location.

Industrial development proposals will be required to ensure they do not have an adverse impact on adjacent uses and the wider area. Proposals should address Policy 33, Policy 34, Policy 35 and Policy 36 of the Cambridge Local Plan.

A key consideration for the introduction of mixed-use is that it meets high design quality by contributing to the public realm and minimising impact on residential and public amenity. Developments will also be required to demonstrate that vibration, noise, air quality, odour and emissions do not affect neighbouring uses, as set out in Policy 25: Environmental Protection.

Whilst affordability in Greater Cambridge is most acute for residential uses, it also affects other uses including industrial floorspace. Following the continued decrease of industrial premises within Cambridge over the past 20 years, vacancy levels are very low and there is continued strong demand for industrial sites in close proximity to the city. This has continued to push industrial rents up and is a constraint for companies seeking to establish, grow or remain in this area. The policy requires 10% of new industrial floorspace in schemes over 1,000 m2 to be at an affordable rate (subject to on-going whole plan viability work). The cost per square foot/metre or per workstation that would be considered affordable will vary according to a range of factors such as location, type, quality etc.

Where workspace has been specified as affordable, the Council's Economic Development Team will work with developers to agree appropriate terms of affordability on a case by case basis. If on-site provision is not possible, financial contributions for equivalent off-site provision will be sought. Affordable industrial workspace and / or a financial contribution will be secured through a legal agreement between the developer and the local planning authority.

  • Availability of industrial land measured through no overall net loss of industrial and warehouse floorspace (B2 and B8)
  • Amount of new employment floorspace permitted and delivered (gross and net)
  • Number of new businesses registered

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 2: Spatial strategy for the location of employment development
  • Policy 15: Cambridge Northern Fringe East and new railway Station Area of Major Change
  • Policy 33: Contaminated land
  • Policy 34: Light pollution control
  • Policy 35: Protection of human health and quality of life from noise and vibration
  • Policy 36: Air quality, odour and dust
  • Policy 37: Cambridge Airport Public Safety Zone and Air Safeguarding Zones
  • Policy 40: Development and expansion of business space
  • Policy 41: Protection of business space
  • Policy 42: Connecting new developments to digital infrastructure

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy E/9: Promotion of Clusters Policy
  • Policy E/11: Large Scale Warehousing and Distribution Centres Policy
  • Policy E/12: New Employment Development in Villages New Employment Development on the Edges of Villages Policy
  • E/14: Loss of Employment Land to Non-Employment Uses Policy
  • E/15: Established Employment Areas
  • S/5: Provision of New Jobs and Homes
  • SS/4: Cambridge Northern Fringe East and Cambridge North railway station
  • E/1: New Employment Provision near Cambridge – Cambridge Science Park
  • E/9: Promotion of Cluster
  • E/10: Shared Social Spaces in Employment Areas
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