8.3 Environmental Protection

Development must be planned and designed in consideration of environmental constraints including land contamination, noise / vibration, artificial lighting and air quality including odours. This policy describes how we expect proposals to improve and mitigate the environmental impacts of development as well as improving overall health and wellbeing considerations for future and existing communities alike.

  • You raised several concerns regarding environmental health impacts from existing business activity on the site and what this could mean to health and wellbeing in terms of noise, air quality and odour. Further concerns relating to business activity were expressed by Veolia as it was highlighted that their operations are incompatible with the indicative Concept Plan due to noise and air quality considerations, unless an appropriate relocation site is found, and suggested that the Concept Plan should reflect this.
  • You suggested that commercial and business development should be located in close proximity to Cambridge North Station to negate the need to locate residential there as this would have a detrimental impact on noise.
  • Most of the concerns you raised were related to impacts from traffic, including the A14, on air quality and noise levels and the lack of information about the broader composition of site areas and environmental constraints, including the intensification of employment space and numbers, car parking, mixes of uses and open space including noise and air quality contributors. Along with this there was a request to look at noise barrier mitigation.
  • You substantially supported the redevelopment of the area around Nuffield Road to mixed uses, to reduce heavy industrial traffic uses including HGV traffic in the area which will improve the environment in existing communities, including Shirley School.
  • You raised concerns that development was not fronting walking and cycling networks which would ensure low car use and minimise noise, and suggested that Milton Road could be redesigned to accommodate this.
  • You made comments in relation to odour and its impact from the Waste Transfer Recycling Centre as well as the relocation of the Waste Water Treatment Plant. There was acknowledgement that further analysis should be undertaken to identify the potential risk of odour from the Waste Water Treatment Plant and the acceptability of different types of development.
  • A few comments were made in relation to water contamination. The Environment Agency placed great importance on addressing contamination at the implementation stage. It was also pointed out that the Waste Transfer Recycling Station relocation has yet to be identified and that contamination needs to be considered as part of any relocation.

How your comments and options have been taken into account

  • The proposed policy places great emphasis on development proposals addressing cumulative Environmental Health impacts to ensure amenity, health and quality of life for new residents and business are not compromised.
  • The second paragraph of the policy addresses the requirements that sensitive development, such as residential area need to be appropriate for its location. The policy also identifies that conditions or obligations will be used to require appropriate design elements to the proposal in order to mitigate noise and pollutants from the site.
  • The policy obligates development proposals to be accompanied by appropriate environmental impact assessments to ensure environmental health considerations are either considered in isolation or cumulatively, and appropriate mitigation identified.
  • The policy supports the delivery of a noise barrier as the most effective way of mitigating noise from the A14.
  • The preferred option also requires the safeguarding of existing facilities within North East Cambridge to ensure they are not undermined by new development and to support proposals that make them publicly available.
  • The policy emphasis that new sensitive development should be located in areas where it can coexist with existing uses and not prejudice their operation. This policy will ensure that any existing business within the Area Action Plan area that is to be relocated in the later phases of the plan will not be compromised by new development.
  • Finally the policy highlights the importance of early pre-application discussion with the Councils to determine the individual impact assessments required as part of the development proposals.

(11)Policy 25: Environmental Protection

Development at North East Cambridge will be required to fully consider all environmental impacts to ensure that the future health, quality of life, amenity and the natural environment are fully considered. Effective mitigation and remediation plans will be required to consider individual and cumulative impacts, timing and phasing, and current and future uses.

As a minimum, prior to commencement of development, a comprehensive site wide Contaminated Land Phase 1 - Desk Top Study / Preliminary Risk Assessment of the entire area shall be undertaken and completed.

Development will be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:

  1. It is appropriate for its location and shall contribute to creating healthy internal and external living environments through preventing unacceptable risks and adverse / negative impacts on health and quality of life / amenity and the wider environment from matters such as land contamination, noise and vibration, artificial lighting and air quality (including odours), from the local road and rail network and existing and future industrial, commercial and business type uses;
  2. Opportunities are taken, where possible, to enhance and improve local environmental conditions such as noise pollution and air quality;
  3. Noise (including industrial and transport sources), air quality (such as particulate matter, nitrous oxides, dust and odour) and land contamination constraints have been comprehensively and cumulatively addressed as part of the design and layout of the site masterplan;
  4. New sensitive uses shall be integrated effectively with existing and future businesses to ensure they do not prejudice their operation;
  5. Unreasonable restrictions are not placed on existing businesses, operations, and facilities, even on a temporary basis, as a result of new development;
  6. Mixed uses are located to complement rather than conflict with neighbouring uses, in terms of environmental protection impacts;
  7. Areas of public open space and recreational / play spaces are suitable for their intended use and are not located in areas where the risk to health or amenity from contaminated land, environmental noise or air quality is unacceptable;
  8. The noise barrier along the A14 is effectively assessed and integrated into the overall masterplan and resolves landscape, heritage, ecology and visual impacts.

A construction environmental management plan should also be prepared to avoid, minimise and mitigate environmental pollution during the construction phase of the development. Furthermore, developers should be encouraged to register with the Considerate Constructors Scheme which includes guidelines for considering the impact on neighbours, and for protecting and enhancing the environment.

Relevant objectives: 1, 4, 5

Applicants should engage in pre-application discussions with the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service, to determine the individual submission requirements for impact assessments as required. The Councils will consider the use of planning conditions or obligations to require the provision of appropriate design measures and controls to mitigate and reduce to a minimum adverse environmental impacts. Planning obligations may assist in mitigating the impact of unacceptable levels of risk from pollutants and development to make it acceptable in planning terms.

Environmental requirements should be considered alongside the other relevant polices of the Area Action Plan to ensure effective integration including climate change.

Developers are encouraged to register with the Considerate Constructors Scheme which identifies guidelines on minimising the impact of construction on neighbours and protects and enhances the environment.

Land Contamination

Due to a long history of industrial uses, activities and processes on the site, and given the sensitive nature of future proposed residential development, including external amenity / recreational spaces, as a minimum, prior to commencement of development a comprehensive site wide Contaminated Land Phase 1 - Desk Top Study / Preliminary Risk Assessment of the entire area shall be undertaken and completed. The study shall include coverage of soil and controlled water contamination and consideration of relevant environmental, geological, hydrogeological site history information specific to the site, a review of previous contaminated land reports, GIS information and a preliminary Qualitative Contaminated Land Risk Assessment with Conceptual Site Models and Source-Pathway-Receptor analyses in accordance with British Standards. Landowners across the area should agree the approach to how this can be done effectively and equitably to support wider development.

The Phase 1 study shall inform the scope and phasing, as appropriate, of future Contaminated Land Phase 2 - intrusive site investigations and the understanding of the need for future site remediation requirements for development, following detailed options appraisals as part of a Phase 3 Remediation Strategy / Scheme following appropriate quantitative risk assessment (QRA) and options appraisal (OA).

Given the dated contamination testing results and uncertain / poor site coverage of past investigations, an intrusive ground investigation is likely to be required to reduce uncertainty and to inform future remediation options to current remediation standards.


The A14 traffic noise has widespread prevalent adverse impacts across a significant proportion of the Area Action Plan area. It is likely that a strategic site environmental noise barrier close to the A14 will be the most effective option to mitigate and reduce to a minimum adverse noise both internally and externally.

Site specific noise sources that will require assessment and consideration include transport (the A14 and Milton Road traffic noise, the Cambridge to Ely / King's Lynn railway line and the Cambridge Guided Busway, Cambridge North Station and future internal streets / and haul roads) and industrial uses (existing industrial uses that may remain and coexist including safeguarded minerals and waste uses such as the minerals railheads, Veolia Waste Transfer Station, and the Waste Water Treatment Plant (until decommissioned)).

As part of future development proposals there will be a need for detailed noise impact assessments of all relevant noise sources as appropriate, and consideration of inherent good acoustic design to ensure noise does not give rise to unacceptable adverse impacts on health and quality of life / amenity and ensure satisfactory internal and external residential living conditions are achievable.

Air Quality

The A14 and Milton Road are both subject to high traffic volumes which have an impact on local air quality. North East Cambridge is not located within an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).

Redevelopment of North East Cambridge will introduce new relevant sensitive receptors such as residential uses into the area and therefore create new areas where national air quality objectives would be relevant / applicable and therefore air quality assessments will be required.

The construction of new higher density mixed use development also has the potential to generate and release additional emissions into the air that may affect receptors located in the surrounding areas outside of the Area Action Plan area and subsequently may have an impact on local AQMAs. This could include on-site energy facilities. This could lead to deterioration in air quality for these receptors. Nevertheless, the nature of development proposed could also help to address these issues due to the strategic objective to reduce the need to travel by car and locate a wide range of uses such as homes and jobs in close proximity to each other.

Further assessment should be carried out at the detailed planning application stage. It is also recommended that detailed air quality atmospheric dispersion modelling is undertaken at the detailed planning application stage, to quantify air quality concentrations at proposed receptor locations and at relevant existing receptors off site.

The combination of monitoring and modelling would determine the minimum distance at which new receptors could be located relative to the road sources of air pollution.

Odour and Dust

Any new development which may coexist with existing sources of odour and dust, such as the Waste Water Treatment Plant, safeguarded minerals / waste sites and other industrial, commercial or business uses in the area will require odour and dust impact assessments to ensure no unacceptable adverse impacts arise on health and quality of life / amenity both internally and externally.

Any odour impact assessment must consider existing odour emissions from odour sources at different times of the year and in a range of different weather conditions and detailed odour dispersal modelling may be required. Planning permission will only be granted when it has been demonstrated that the proposed development would not be adversely affected by the continued operation of existing sources of odour and dust that may coexist.

Artificial Light Pollution

Any development that has the potential to be adversely affected by existing artificial lighting levels, for example associated with Cambridge North Station, street lighting and other existing premises, will require a lighting impact assessment and consideration of mitigation to limit the impact on local quality of life / amenity and biodiversity.

  • Site wide and landowner parcel Biodiversity Net Gain from the 2020 baseline
  • Biodiversity Net Gain and habitat improvements to Chesterton Fen from the 2020 baseline
  • Biodiversity enhancements to City and County Wildlife Sites

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 59: Designing landscape and the public realm
  • Policy 69: Protection of sites of biodiversity and geodiversity importance
  • Policy 70: Protection of priority species and habitats

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy NH/4: Biodiversity
  • Policy NH/6: Green Infrastructure
  • Biodiversity SPD (2009)
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