Greater Cambridge Local Plan Preferred Options

Representation ID: 60137

Received: 14/12/2021

Respondent: Christopher Blakeley

Representation Summary:

I am concerned about the scale of economic growth in the area and its use to drive large amounts of housing growth well about what would be required in other planning areas.
However, I support the life science sector and its national importance and the appropriate development in science parks including their expansion using Green Belt land

Full text:

Vision and aims
I support the vision and aims of the Local Plan and the general direction of the development strategy, but am concerned about the overall scale of development and the continuing high levels of growth which are driven by technical economic growth forecasts.

How much development, and where – general comments
I recognise that Greater Cambridge has a strong and nationally important economy, but I do not support the continuing pace and scale of high levels of growth that has increasing cumulative impacts on the environment, water supply, heritage and carbon emissions.
I would argue that the growth of the Cambridge and the impacts of that level of growth on South Cambridgeshire are disproportionately high (a third higher than the government targets) compared with other Local Plans, because the scale of growth is driven by technical economic forecasts studies and the desire to continue to stoke the engine of growth yet again.
The area over the last 30 years has absorbed major levels of development which has brought many benefits and disbenefits.
But the time has come with this Plan, in a new era having to seriously address the causes and impacts of climate change and net zero carbon goals to set t Cambridge on a different course.
The development strategy should with this Plan start to reduce the scale of growth to more manageable levels, perhaps towards the Low option so as to set the direction of travel for the next planning round in the era of climate change .

S/JH: New jobs and homes
The level of new homes proposed in the Plan is driven by the need to enhance economic growth, so much so that it is 37% higher than the Government targets for the area.
This proposes larger amounts of housing growth in the surrounding South Cambridgeshire District to serve Cambridge and the surrounding area.
A large amount of new development proposed in the housing pipeline is already allocated to known sites. A moderated target would lessen the uncertainty of deliverability, ease of the identified water supply issue and give time to for water companies to decide and implement sound options, and reduce climate impacts.
Even a moderate reduction in the housing target, which goes so far beyond what the Government requires, could provide more reserve housing sites, providing flexibility to maintain a five year housing supply, reduce pressure on villages and start to slow the pace of change in an area, which has seen so much cumulative change over the recent decades.

S/DS: Development strategy
I generally support the Development Strategy that supports sustainable development and proposes compact active neighbourhoods in Cambridge, development and /or expansion of new towns connected by good public and active transport and the proposals for very limited new development in the rest of the rural area.

S/SH: Settlement hierarchy
I support the proposed Settlement hierarchy policy area as a means of planning and directing new development towards the most suitable and sustainable locations.
In my comment on the rest of rural area, I am concerned about the impact of unallocated housing windfalls being used by possible speculative planning applications contrary to the development strategy to direct development to the most sustainable locations.
I would suggest that the word indictive in the proposed policy SS/SH is omitted to strengthen and add clarity to the proposed policy in the light of the revised annual windfall target.
Support the reclassification of Cottenham and Babraham villages to provide locations for development and new jobs on good public transport routes.

S/SB: Settlement boundaries
I support the work on the development of Settlement boundaries, especially to protect the open countryside from gradual encroachment around villages and on high quality agricultural land.
The work on settlement boundaries should include the involvement of Parish Councils at an appropriate stage in the development of the Policy because of their local data and knowledge of past development.

Cambridge urban area - general comments
Support in Cambridge urban area for good designed, active compact new developments, reuse of brownfield land and continued development of larger neighbourhoods where possible.

S/NEC: North East Cambridge
Support the development of NE Cambridge as a sustainable neighbourhood with good public transport and active transport into Cambridge

Edge of Cambridge - general comments
Support edge of Cambridge planned new neighbourhoods and new sustainable developments and settlements of sufficient size to cater for daily needs and with good access to public and active transport

New settlements - general comments
Support for new settlements of substantial size to cater for more than local needs. I particularly support the growth of Cambourne which can provide good rail access into Cambridge and to the West in the mid-term from new East West rail infrastructure.

S/BRC: Babraham Research Campus
Support the release of land from the Green Belt to support nationally important R and D and life science jobs located near to public transport routes and active transport.

S/RSC: Village allocations in the rural southern cluster
NB, Policy has different name on map page.
In accordance with reducing carbon emissions, and supporting access to the existing rail network the villages of Shelford and Whittlesford could be locations for more sustainable development, despite Green Belt locations

S/SCP: Policy areas in the rural southern cluster
Support existing site allocations to be carried forward including the expansion of Babraham research campus using Green Belt land

Rest of the rural area - general comments
I support the development strategy approach which directs new development to a limited number of sites in the most sustainable development locations supporting the sustainability of villages.
There is still the matter of the unallocated housing windfall development identified in the strategy Topic Paper of 5345 homes for 2021-2041 which is not included in the additional allocated land target of the 11596.
The anticipated dwellings per year for SCDC is between 240 and 255 dwellings a year. Notwithstanding the proposed policy SS/SH, there is a risk that developers will seek speculative permission in the open countryside greenfield sites contrary to the development strategy using the windfalls allocation and I have made a comment on this on Policy SS/SH.

Climate change - general comments
All new development will have impacts relating to increasing carbon emissions and require adaptation responses. A Local Plan can only seek to mitigate these impacts and by far the most impacts are from the existing development, their use and getting around using carbon fuelled transport.
The rate of change in and around Cambridge over the past 30 years has been significantly greater than for just local needs, mainly to develop nationally important economic development. This Plan continues this approach despite the issue of climate change and water supply and large amounts on new development still to be implemented from current Local Plans.
I would argue that the time has now come to step back from this direction of travel and begin to reduce the scale of growth around Cambridge using the Low option as a first step.
I was hoping, given the aims of the Plan and the input of the Net Zero Carbon study for a more radical Plan which addressed climate change and zero carbon targets through aiming to reduce the total amount of new development to meet local needs need and move to a position which is in line with Government targets in the next planning round.

CC/NZ: Net zero carbon new buildings
Support in general
Although I have concerns about how for example heat pump technology can be installed and used at reasonable cost in new development.

CC/WE: Water efficiency in new developments
Support, important given the water supply issues coming forward up to 2041

CC/DC: Designing for a changing climate
Support especially with regards balancing insulation and overheating with increasing hot to very hot summers risk brought about through a changing climate.
Site wide approaches should include appropriate lower densities through good design which allow for beyond minimum garden space and space for Suds and open space and greening.

CC/FM: Flooding and integrated water management
Especially permeable surfaces and integration of water management with enhancements to biodiversity and greening.

CC/CS: Supporting land-based carbon sequestration
Support the creation of land for use as carbon sinks through the development process. Perhaps a suitable use of land in the Green Belt or on lower grade agricultural land.

Biodiversity and green spaces - general comments
Support the identification of 14 strategic GI initiatives and enhancing the linkages between GI and open spaces to provide corridors for wildlife.

BG/BG: Biodiversity and geodiversity
Support delivery of a minimum 20% biodiversity net gain.
I would comment that funding for long term management of biodiversity assets is key for the long-term benefits from such a policy.
I could also emphasis the creation of winter wet areas, water space and Suds designed to benefit enhanced biodiversity should be planned in to developments at an early stage

BG/GI: Green infrastructure
Support the use of a GI standard, particularly on larger developments.
In particular early identification of GI and biodiversity assets and potential gains as an early part of the design process and /or planning brief

BG/TC: Improving Tree canopy cover and the tree population
Support increasing tree and woodland cover, ensuring right tree(s) in right places and species futureproofed for lifetime changing climate adaptation.
A particular opportunity is the rural field margins of agricultural land to help increase the linkages and biodiversity gains and in specific places the creation of woodland belts in the open countryside, green belt land and around villages.
In Cambridge urban areas, where there are existing trees there is a need to plan their replacement with adaptation species to gradually adapt to a changing climate.
Also, to provide sufficient future tree cover to mitigate the urban heat island effect, provide shade and mitigate microclimatic effects.

BG/RC: River corridors
Support the protection and enhancement of river corridors and restoration of natural features and use of GI to support the alleviation of flooding risk.
Support the delivery of the continuous Cam Valley Trail.

BG/PO: Protecting open spaces
Support the protection of the wide variety of open spaces and use of Local Green Space designation in appropriate locations

BG/EO: Providing and enhancing open spaces
Support the provision of open space and recreation provision, including appropriate play space.

WS/HD: Creating healthy new developments
Support the use of health impact assessments in proposals.
I would comment that with the increase in ride on electric vehicles and increasing older communities there are opportunities to coordinate with transport professional the delivery of smooth pathways with minimal dropped kerbs which gives smoother access to local centres and bus stops linked to older persons housing and also can prevent falls.

GP/PP: People and place responsive design
Support the requirement of inclusion of a comprehensive design and access statement and recognise the importance of good design tailored to the local area and involving local communities and Parish Councils particularly in villages.

GP/LC: Protection and enhancement of landscape character
Support the use of landscape character assessment to enhance the setting of Cambridge and protect and enhance the setting of villages.

GP/GB: Protection and enhancement of the Cambridge Green Belt
National guidance places great importance on Green Belt policy and sets out how planning proposals should be considered.
I support the use of GI and other opportunities to provide access and increase tree and woodlands where appropriate in the Green Belt.
But I think where there are locations where there is good public transport especially rail access or future rail access there is a good case to consider the special circumstances judgment.
I think it is time to question if this national policy is still relevant to the situation Greater Cambridge in the period up to the middle of the century. Further Green Belt assessments may be better served by considering sustainable development and the extension of the Green Belt to prevent coalescence around villages beyond the current Green Belt boundary which was made before most of the new development (over 70%) is beyond the current outside boundary or further modification of this policy to enable growth to be planned for the 21st century rather than the conditions which related to the last century.

Jobs – general comments
I am concerned about the scale of economic growth in the area and its use to drive large amounts of housing growth well about what would be required in other planning areas.
However, I support the life science sector and its national importance and the appropriate development in science parks including their expansion using Green Belt land

J/AL: Protecting the best agricultural land
Support the restriction of development on the best agricultural land as supported in the Sustainability Appraisal.

Homes – general comments
Support the objective for planning enough housing to meet our needs, including affordable housing to rent or buy.
I object to needs being directly driven by future economic assessments, the direction of travel of the plan should be as much balanced by the climate change as future economic demand.

H/HD: Housing density
Support design led approach to determine optimum capacity of sites and appropriate density to respond to local character, especially in villages.

H/GL: Garden land and subdivision of existing plots
Support for controlling the use of gardens for new development.