Draft North East Cambridge Area Action Plan

Representation ID: 56019

Received: 05/10/2020

Respondent: Endurance Estates

Agent: Barton Willmore

Representation Summary:

The Draft Policy states that “development densities and building heights should not exceed those identified on Figure 21 and Figure 23”. Figure 21 (Building Heights) shows development across the site ranging from building heights of between 4-5 and 13 storeys. Figure 23 (Residential Densities) provides the corresponding residential densities map, showing densities of between 75 and 385 dwellings per hectare (Figure 21/23 see submission attachment)
Draft Policy 9 clearly indicates that the heights and densities shown on the maps represent upper limits for development across NEC. Whilst we welcome the identification of these figures as maximums, we are of the view that the building heights and densities remain too great when considering the location of NEC Action Area within the historic city of Cambridge; the existing site constraints; and the proposed mix of uses.

This said, we recognise that the heights and densities proposed are necessitated by the high quantum of development that Draft Policy 1 seeks to allocate to the Action Area (see separate comments to Policy 1, above). Our representation to Draft Policy 9 therefore corresponds closely with our representation to Draft Policy 1.

Compared with strategic sites such as Cambourne, Northstowe and Waterbeach, the scale of residential development proposed in NEC involves building at residential densities that are unprecedented in the Cambridge area.

The NEC Typologies Study and Development Capacity Assessment (January 2020) provides a range of example developments at high density. However, we note that none of these include developments of circa 8,000 dwellings except for Hammarby Sjostad in Stockholm (9,000 units at 145 dph). Whilst there are examples in Cambridge and London of high-quality, high-density development, it typically comprises a smaller total quantum of development, e.g. CB1 Ceres in Cambridge (150 units at 300dph), S3 in Eddington, Cambridge (186 units at 261 dph) and Aylesbury Estate in London (260 units at 244dph). We are concerned that the high-density residential development proposed at NEC will not be in keeping with the site and surrounding area, including landscape and visual impacts on the local and wider cityscape.

Table 5 of the NEC Retail Evidence Statement (February 2020) sets out the proposed residential mix for the NEC Area (see below). This indicates a total 8,400 dwellings, of which 92% will be flats and 8% will be 3 and 4-bedroom houses. Of all dwellings, 70% comprises of 1 and 2-bed flats. This housing mix will generate an estimated total population of around 19,400 people (Retail Evidence Statement, paragraph 54).
(Table 5 See submission attachment)
We would question whether the proposed dwelling mix has been determined by a comprehensive analysis of population projections and housing need for the area – or whether the high proportion of small flats is necessary in order to achieve the high numbers and densities that are proposed.

With the anticipated permanent changes to our day to day living as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, we believe that there should be a reconsideration of the policy approach in relation to residential mix. In terms of preference, there has been a clear move towards people seeking more space within their homes, both internally to facilitate home-working and externally in terms of private garden space. We are concerned that the housing market in Cambridge may not support the level of apartment development that is currently proposed within the Draft AAP. Whilst this impacts the parameters set out in Draft Policy 9, this also has a knock-on effect on Draft Policy 1. We consider that a reassessment of this policy approach is required to ensure the long term viability of the project.

Again, the above raises the of question whether the quantum of 8,000+ units and other proposed employment, commercial and community uses and associated policy objectives is too much for the NEC Action Area.