Our Green Belt Policy states that:
• The purposes of the Cambridge Green Belt include the full suite of purposes set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). These include:
– To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
– To prevent neighbouring towns from merging into each other;
– To prevent neighbouring villages from becoming assimilated within a larger buit-up area;
– To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
– To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
– To assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.
• The Green Belt continues to play a vital role in maintaining Cambridge as a compact city and in protecting the green setting and special character of the historic city.
• Whilst the Green Belt cannot be regarded as sacrosanct, its boundaries should be changed only under exceptional circumstances.
• Changes to the Green Belt boundaries must be made only at the time of revision of the Local Plan in accordance with the NPPF.
• Such ‘exceptional circumstances’ will prevail only when it can be demonstrated that the social or economic benefit to the people of Cambridge arising from the development outweighs the harm that the development will have on the purposes of the Green Belt.
• Pressure for more housing and employment does not per se constitute the required ‘exceptional circumstances’ as pressure for development land represents the ‘normal circumstances’ for the Greater Cambridge Area within which more enlightened spatial planning is required.
• For the foreseeable future, adequate provision of land for housing and employment can be provided in the Cambridge sub-region without the need to change the current boundaries of the Green Belt.
• It is recognised that at the time of revision of the Local Plan, circumstances might be forthcoming that could be regarded as exceptional and where the release of Green Belt for development can be justified in terms of the overall benefit to the wider community. However, such proposals should constitute the option of last resort in the preferred development sequence: Green Belt land should be released only when it can be unambiguously demonstrated that all other options, including beyond the Green Belt in South Cambridgeshire, have been exhausted or shown to be impractical.
• The repeated release of Green Belt land around the inner boundary to accommodate the development pressures of the city negates the purpose of the Green Belt so that its value as a planning tool becomes degraded: preventing urban sprawl so as to protect the setting of the historic city is irreconcilable with continued city fringe development.
• Opportunities for the infilling, and even the modest expansion, of villages in the Green Belt should be subject to rigorous scrutiny to ensure such development incorporates affordable housing for use by the local community and helps safeguard essential services and facilities such as the village shop, pub, or bus route.
• The wider social and environmental benefits of the Green Belt, such as access to the countryside and healthy walking, should be encouraged by local authorities, landowners, and stakeholders, including the allocation of S106 and CIL funding: CambridgePPF should show the way through its management of Wandlebury Country Park and Coton Countryside Reserve for the benefit of all the people of Cambridge.
• A comprehensive assessment of the Green Belt should be undertaken by both the City Council and SCDC to inform the next revision of the Local Plan. It should incorporate a wide range of existing information (land character, conservation value, agricultural value, flood risk, etc) with a view to identifying areas of varying public benefit and opportunity as the basis for a programme of enhancement within the Green Belt.