Would you like the population to have increased by 70%? Should new development sprawl over the greenbelt or be in new towns or along transport corridors? Would you like to see more tree planting and a significant increase in nature-rich habitats, if so where should they be? Should there be more affordable housing and who should it be for? Would you like communities to be well designed, healthy and inclusive? How should heritage be protected from new development?

These are some of the 50 questions that the City and South Cambs Councils are asking you to reply to by 24 February 2020, as part of their Greater Cambridge Local Plan: The First Conversation, also known as an Issues & Options Consultation.

People often feel that the development of their area is imposed upon them by local authorities, developers and agencies and that local people don’t have a say. That is often because by the time people find out what is planned, it is already too late – decisions HAVE been made. Those decisions stem from the Local Plan, a legalistic document which sets out the scale, location and types of development that can take place. So, if you want to influence the future of your countryside, village, neighbourhood or city then the Local Plan is how to do it.

Developers and landowners know this, and they have already offered up significant amounts of land around Cambridge for future development. They will be lobbying hard for as much development as possible, and to ensure their land gets into the Local Plan. If that’s what you want, then you can sit back and do nothing.

If it’s not, then now is your chance to say what you would like to happen. It is really important that individual residents, community groups, parish councils and anyone who cares about the future of our area puts forward their views to the Councils.

You don’t have to answer all 50 questions. Indeed, you don’t have to answer any at all, if you prefer you can email or post the Councils your vision for 2040 – or attend one of the consultation events and speak to someone.

If your New Year’s resolution is to make a positive difference in the world then I would encourage you to speak up for the future you want, and encourage people you know to do the same.

Click here to visit the Greater Cambridge Local Plan website and have your say.