The greater Cambridge area has been growing rapidly and this rate of growth is predicted to continue. Change can be both good and bad. Our aim is to influence the type, location and quality of new development so that it is sustainable and does not materially harm the environment, heritage and the quality of life. We do not support a dash for growth that will generate long-term harm. 

Cambridge Past, Present & Future has 11 Development Principles that provide a framework for determining our approach to the future development of the Greater Cambridgeshire area. The purpose of these Principles is to publish a clear statement of our position in the debate about future development, which also provides a policy-base against which we will assess local development plans and planning applications, and to ensure consistency in the position taken by the charity. Our 11 Development Principles are as follows:

1. Keeping Cambridge Special
Maintaining the attractiveness of Cambridge is essential for the City’s future prosperity and the quality of life of its residents. Allowing the City to expand into a large urban metropolis through uncoordinated urban extensions will harm both its character and competitiveness. Cambridge’s attraction is largely a consequence of its relatively small size and compact nature so that its rural surrounds contribute directly to its ambience. The further development of the City should be predicated on protecting its green landscape setting and keeping its special charm and character.

2. Integrated Sub-Regional Planning
Cambridge’s future must be set in its wider geographical context. This means replacing piecemeal planning and assessment of individual sites with a strategic approach which recognises cumulative effects across a wider region. Spatial planning must be undertaken at a scale that reflects the mobility of people within the area. This requires joint projections for the City, South Cambridgeshire and neighbouring districts and the creation of plans for the integrated development of employment, housing, and transport for the whole Greater Cambridge area and beyond. Such an approach will need strong leadership.

3. New Settlements and Transport
The location of new settlements must be determined primarily by their potential to provide high quality public transport. New settlements beyond the Green Belt must be linked to main employment centres by cycle routes or rapid mass transport systems in ways which do not damage important local landscapes, nor disconnect people or wildlife. Cambridge is well served by rail links and these, together with possible new rail links, should provide future development opportunities. New settlements must be of a substantial size, large enough to promote education, employment, retail, and leisure opportunities and to reduce travel and dependence on Cambridge.

4. Employment
Employment growth needs to be more widely distributed across the Greater Cambridge area. Wherever possible, employment development should be concentrated in discrete clusters, including science and business parks, where high quality public transport links are available or can be provided. With development land so scarce within the city, priority should be given to knowledge-based industries that contribute to the city’s technology clusters. The growth of science and business parks outside the city should be encouraged for companies with no compelling need to be located within the city. 

5. Affordability of Housing
Cambridge has the highest ratio of average house price to average income of any city outside central London. The cost of housing is beyond the means of younger workers and even middle managers. The issue is becoming a major impediment to recruitment and to the continued prosperity of Cambridge. All new residential schemes must include up to 40% affordable housing in accordance with the Councils’ policies, and Councils must exercise measures to ensure that developers do not backslide on their commitments. Councils must apply the strongest possible pressures to force developers to accelerate their rates of completion. We believe the current planning and development system cannot deliver sufficient affordable housing for our region and, where we are able, we will lobby for planning reforms that can deliver this.

6. Green Belt
The benefits of the Green Belt, including its greater use for public access and recreation, should be promoted through urgent public debate. The Green Belt serves an invaluable purpose in protecting the landscape setting of Cambridge. It should be retained intact and only considered for development as an exceptional measure of last resort.

7. Brownfield
Pressure must be maintained to make maximum use of brown-field sites for development providing this can be done without a net loss of biodiversity. The City’s airport and current water treatment works offer substantial long-term potential capacity for such development.

8. Environment and Green Infrastructure
The capacity of the sub-region to take further development must be closely monitored, including the need for resilience against the effects of climate change, including risk of flooding and the maintenance of an adequate water supply. The City’s high levels of atmospheric pollution from vehicle emissions pose not just a public health risk but also threaten the fabric of Cambridge’s old buildings, and practical measures must be taken to address this problem. The overall impact of development should be to increase the quantity and quality of green infrastructure which should result in higher quality of life and greater biodiversity. 

9. Congestion Relief
The City’s problem of traffic congestion is having a detrimental effect on heritage, the environment, health and quality of life and threatens to undermine future prosperity. Effective measures must be introduced to encourage a modal shift away from private vehicle use. CambridgePPF has an additional position paper relating to transport, which you can read by clicking here.

10. Quality of Place
New development must be designed to the highest standards to produce vibrant communities where people want to live, including the provision of adequate, well landscaped and accessible open space for recreation, amenity and biodiversity. A revised Quality Charter of Greater Cambridge should be produced and actively promoted as the quality standard. Quality issues should not be relegated to Reserved Matters in planning applications.

11. Historic Environment                                                                                                                          With the rapid growth in the Sub-Region and the greater pressures on the city centre, the risks to the historic environment and associated mitigation measures must be identified through a Cambridge Historic Environment Strategy. Sustainable development in the Cambridge context must include protection of the City’s historic heritage and public realm, including its parks, gardens and commons, against the cumulative effects of both large and small-scale development projects.


As a civic society we would encourage local groups to engage in the planning system and ensure that their views are heard. CambridgePPF is keen to hear the views of local groups on developments proposed for their area in order to help us better understand local issues.