Local Plan – less is more

10th Nov 2015

CambridgePPF welcomes the announcement by the City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council of the amendments to the submitted Local Plans in response to the request from the Planning Inspectors for further evidence to substantiate their growth strategy. The charity is encouraged by the limited extent of proposed changes, and is particularly pleased to see that the Councils now have the independent evidence to support their strategy of keeping Cambridge a compact city with the setting of its historic core protected by its Green Belt.

“This is good news for those who wish to maintain the special character and ambience of Cambridge and do not want to see the city expand into a large suburban metropolis,” said CambridgePPF Chairman, Robin Pellew.

He went on to say, “We have argued in front of the Inspectors that further releases of Green Belt land around the city fringe should be allowed only under the most exceptional circumstances and not just as a consequence of the pressure for more housing. It is encouraging that the new evidence supports this position.”

“Cambridge and South Cambs clearly have a housing crisis, but the independent evidence shows that the 33,500 new homes proposed by the Councils will meet the growth needs of the City and South Cambs. We support the Councils’ strategy of locating these new homes in large settlements outside the Green Belt in South Cambs, particularly where there are good public transport links, and this new evidence will substantiate the claims that these settlements are sustainable compared with urban extensions.”

“The developers have accused the Councils at previous hearings of not doing enough to tackle the problem of the affordability of Cambridge homes, one of the key elements of the housing crisis. However, the developers should direct such criticism towards themselves. It is the Councils’ responsibility to ensure that there is a steady supply of land coming forward with planning permission, and at the moment this supply amounts to more than two years’ worth of house building. The rate of building and the number of new homes coming onto the market is determined entirely by the developers in response to market forces. And it is in their commercial self-interest to keep this rate slow, and thus prices high, so as to maximise their bottom-line. It is encouraging that the new evidence recognises the limited control the Councils can exercise over affordability.”

“It is difficult to oppose the expansion of the Addenbrookes Bio-Medical Campus because of the human benefits of its research, so an expansion amounting to a additional 10% of its total area would seem acceptable, despite it being in the Green Belt. However, CambridgePPF would like to see a rigorous set of criteria applied to screen potential incoming enterprises to ensure they have a genuine necessity to be located on the campus rather than just seeking the kudos of the association.”

CambridgePPF will support the proposed amendments in the public consultation, and then looks forward to continuing its role with the resumption of the Public Examination of the revised plans. The charity urges that the re-submission is made as rapidly as possible so that the Local Plans can be approved in time to thwart the rash of speculative planning applications that we are currently seeing.

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