Planning & Heritage

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  • Joint news release with South Cambridgeshire District Council

Plans for 44,000 new jobs and 33,500 new homes in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire have moved a step forward after Government inspectors did not raise any objections to the strategy of focusing growth in new towns and a new village. Inspectors reviewing the two Local Plans completed hearings in July, and South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council have now published correspondence with Government inspectors up to this point to update local people on the stage the plans have reached.

The documents cover some of the changes the inspectors have suggested they believe may be needed for the two Plans to be agreed and signed off, and have asked the Councils to draft the modifications needed. A complete final list from the inspectors is expected in the next few weeks. Councillors have said they plan to launch a public consultation as soon as they have the final information from the inspectors and will give extra time for people to have their say to allow for Christmas.

The Local Plans submitted to Government focussed growth for the Greater Cambridge area in a new town north of Waterbeach, a new village at Bourn Airfield, and an extension to Cambourne. Around 300 homes are also proposed for Worts Causeway on the edge of Cambridge. The independent inspectors reviewing the plans to make sure they are ‘sound’ have not objected to this overall approach. 

The main modifications the inspectors have raised so far include:

  • Information about suitable land that is readily available in the next 5 years to meet the number of homes that need to be built
  • Changing policies so affordable housing is sought on sites of more than 10 homes. The Government intends this to encourage more smaller housing developments
  • Modest changes to site boundaries and policies at the new town north of Waterbeach and new village at Bourn Airfield
  • Allocation of additional employment land at the Addenbrooke’s Campus

Councillors have welcomed the Government inspectors’ draft recommendation that the two councils review their plans in 2019 and begin to draw up a single Local Plan for the Greater Cambridge area. This recommendation matches up with the commitment the two councils made as part of the City Deal agreement, now the Greater Cambridge Partnership, with Government in 2014.

The plans are in addition to the current extensions being built or planned for on the edge of Cambridge and at the new town of Northstowe. These will be carried forward into the new Local Plans.



  • We are aware of that our adjacent neighbour Uttlesford District Council has closed the consultation on their draft local plan. Please find the link to all of the documents here Included here are the proposals for up to 5000 at Great Chesterford, which is near to Hinxton, Ickeleton, Great Abington, A11 and A1303. Reading the proposals, they are planning on 1900 houses to be completed by 2033. The remaining of the 5000 has not been outlined. We share concerns about the implications into South Cambs from added traffic, noise, pollution and water runoff- especially to our mill at Hinxton. However, it is still early and the plan process could be another few years.


  • PRESS RELEASE: CambridgePPF published an article in the Cambridge Independent 12th July on Green Belt developments being proposed. Have a read of our press release here- CambridgePPF Homes in Green Belt PR



  • Follow our new CambridgePPF planning and built heritage conservation work Twitter page – CambPPF P&C See what we’re doing, who we’re working with and what we’re commenting on – for Cambridge and its surrounding area.

Transport and the Greater Cambridge City Deal

Read and follow the latest news and responses to the City Deal and Transport matters at our page on Transport and the City Deal

Examination of Local Plans

Read and follow the latest news and responses to the Examination of the Local Plans at our page on CambridgePPF EIP

Responses to Planning Applications

Read our responses to planning applications at our page on CambridgePPF submissions

CambridgePPF Projects & Campaigns

See what projects and campaigns the charity is currently working on as well as previously at our page on Projects and Campaigns

The growth of Cambridge 

CambridgePPF will use its influence to create a City that is a dynamic, vibrant, and exciting place in which to live or to visit; that extends its world-leading role in education, research, and the knowledge-based economy;  that provides a high quality of life for its residents; but which remains a compact city with the green landscape setting of its historic environment protected by its tightly drawn Green Belt.

To deliver this vision, CambridgePPF will strive to:

  • Promote the continued growth of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire but on a scale and at a speed that the physical and social infrastructure of the area can assimilate without compromising the character and ambience that make Cambridge and the surrounding area so special;
  • Promote the identification of land both within the City and in South Cambridgeshire, especially brownfield land and areas suitable for re-development and higher density use, sufficient to allow the continued expansion of the Cambridge Cluster that underpins the City’s economic and social prosperity;
  • Protect the Green Belt, particularly around its inner boundary, against inappropriate development including the creation of more urban extensions once the current fringe sites have been completed, unless all other development alternatives have been exhausted;
  • Prioritise the use of development land within and around the City for employment purposes through the expansion of existing clusters with the demand for residential development met largely through new settlements in South Cambridgeshire outside the Green Belt;
  • Promote the creation of high quality public transport, including both bus and rail as well as a comprehensive network of cycle-ways, linking the new residential settlements and the centres of employment;
  • Seek a significant reduction in traffic congestion in and around the City through a broad-based package that includes fiscal demand management measures so that those who chose to drive subsidise a high quality public transport alternative throughout the Greater Cambridge area;
  • Promote the importance of the City’s historic environment not just for its intrinsic heritage value but as part of the City’s attraction for inward investment, and to ensure that its conservation is given the priority it warrants in planning Cambridge’s future;
  • In keeping with its reputation for design excellence, encourage the creation of innovative, high quality architecture in the design of its new buildings that promotes the development of vibrant, exciting new communities where people want to live, including a high proportion of affordable housing;
  • Encourage the transition to a more environmentally sustainable city based around a low carbon economy with the use of non-polluting modes of public transport in the city centre to improve the air quality;
  • To encourage the beneficial use of the Green Belt through the provision of opportunities for enhanced landscape, biodiversity, and public recreation and enjoyment, managing our green open spaces at Wandlebury and Coton as models of enlightened Green Belt use; and
  • Above all, strive to create a vibrant, buzzing City that offers a wide range of high quality facilities and services providing exciting opportunities for retail, catering, sporting, and recreational activities that contribute to the quality of life of visitors and residents and make Cambridge an attractive place to live and work.


The Cambridge 2030 Vision, an initiative launched by CambridgePPF in 2014, can be read here: 2030_Vision_report

What we do

CambridgePPF supports the growth of the Greater Cambridge area (Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire) but seeks to ensure that the scale and speed of this growth is genuinely sustainable in terms of the supporting infrastructure and that it does not materially harm the quality of life of current residents. We do not support a dash for growth that will generate long-term harm to character and ambience of the area.

We seek to influence the planning of new developments to ensure that future growth can be assimilated by the physical and social infrastructure of the area. We work with developers and planners to influence the design of new communities in and around Cambridge, so that they are of the highest possible quality in terms of urban planning, architectural and landscape design so as to produce vibrant communities where people want to live.

We want places for people to live and work that respect the compact nature of the City and the integrity of its Green Belt; that enhance the quality of the city’s historic core and its conservation areas; and that offer green spaces for people to explore and enjoy. We believe in high quality design and common sense. We do not believe in growth at any cost.

Since 1928, CambridgePPF has worked alongside the planning committees of successive local councils, landowners, and developers, discussing future developments and how best to shape them before they get to planning application stage. Over recent years we have engaged with many Local Authority and independent organisations engaged in the City’s future to influence planning policies and to seek collaboration for joint initiatives including the Greater Cambridge City Deal, the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership, the University of Cambridge, the City’s Design and Conservation Panel, Cambridge Ahead, the Green Infrastructure Forum, the Federation of Cambridge Residents Associations, and many others.

Currently, CambridgePPF has been playing a key role in the Examination in Public of the Local Plans up to 2031 for both Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council. Submissions and responses to all Matters raised by the Inspectors and the presentation of verbal evidence at the public Hearings is a great example of the status our Planning Committee has gained over the years. Indeed CambridgePPF has frequently been the lone voice representing the people of Cambridge against the pressures from the developers for an even greater, and in our opinion unsustainable, rate of growth.

CambridgePPF is also playing a lead role with the Greater Cambridge City Deal whose infrastructure proposals are intended to provide the essential transport improvements in support of the Councils’ Local Plans.  We have consistently pressed the City Deal Board to adopt a more transparent and open approach to its decision making as a means of restoring some of the public credibility that its actions have forfeited.  We have become particularly involved where CambridgePPF itself owns land, or holds covenants on land, acquired by our predecessors to prevent urban spread, which could now be subject to City Deal developments.

Through the creation of its Heritage Watch group, CambridgePPF is actively engaged with the Local authorities and with local communities in protecting the historic environment, whether formally designated or not. This includes assessments of Conservation Areas, reviews of Buildings of Local Interest, identification of neighbourhood heritage assets, and responding to planning applications involving heritage sites. With the generous time of our volunteers, CambridgePPF has undertaken a number of heritage projects, such as the Landbeach Tithe Barn, Hodson’s Folly, and the enhanced use of the Market Square as part of the public realm. CambridgePPF also chairs the East of England Civic and Amenity Societies (EECAS) – an informal regional cluster of active civic and amenity groups.

Guiding Principles for Planning and Development

Cambridge Past, Present & Future has prepared a set of 11 Development Principles that provide a framework for determining our approach to the future development of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire. The purpose of these Principles is to publish a clear statement of the charity’s position in the debate about the future growth of the Cambridge area. They also provide a policy-base against which CambridgePPF will assess local development plans and planning applications, and to ensure consistency in the position taken by the charity.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 is developing a separate position paper relating to transport (available here when ready).

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.

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.

The Cambridgeshire Combined Authority Devolution Deal

The Chancellor announced proposals in the Spring 2016 Budget for regional devolution, including for the East of England. Following several false starts and a public consultation, it has finally been agreed with the Government that a new Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority should be created, led by an elected Mayor.

The new Authority will include all seven Local Authorities – Peterborough City, Cambridgeshire County, Cambridge City, East Cambridgeshire, South Cambridgeshire, Fenland, and Huntingdon, as well the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership. This new Authority will be formally established in 2017 with the Mayoral elections scheduled for 4th May 2017.

The Combined Authority will have significant independent powers over the growth and development of the Greater Cambridge area through the creation of a Joint Spatial Planning & Transport Committee that will be responsible for producing a new Local Plan for the area. It is not unlikely that we will start preparing a new plan before the examination of the 2014 draft plans has been completed!

The proposals for the Combined Authority include:

  • A new £20million Annual Fund for the next 30 years (£600million in total) to support economic growth, development of local infrastructure and jobs.
  • £170 million for affordable housing, including £100 million for affordable, rent and shared ownership – particularly in response to housing issues in South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City. There is a proposed specific £70 million fund to meet housing needs in Cambridge which Cambridge City Council have indicated would be spent on new Council housing.
  • Supporting the delivery of the Wisbech Garden Town and the Wisbech-Cambridge rail connection.
  • Providing new homes across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough including affordable homes in Greater Cambridge.
  • Transport infrastructure improvements such as A14/A142 junction and upgrades to the A10 and the A47 as well as Ely North Junction. Also it would support development at Wyton and St Neots.
  • Rail improvements, including a new station at Soham, (new rolling stock, improved King’s Lynn, Cambridge, London rail)
  • Investment in a Peterborough University with degree-awarding powers.
  • Devolved skills and apprenticeship budget – to give more opportunities to our young people.
  • Creation of a Peterborough Enterprise Zone – attracting investment from business leading to more and better quality jobs for residents.
  • Working with Government on the continued regeneration of Peterborough City Centre.


Despite being part of this new Combined Authority, the constituent Local Councils will continue their current responsibilities to their constituents, including the local delivery of matters decided by the Combined Authority.  Exactly how the overlapping responsibilities of the Combined Authority, the County Council, and the District Councils, will work in practice has yet to be determined but CambridgePPF will be arguing that yet another layer of bureaucracy is a misuse of scarce resources at a time of budget cuts unless the whole structure of Local Government is overhauled.

CambridgePPF Planning & Heritage Achievements

Historically, CambridgePPF has a proud record of delivering planning successes, as shown on the list below. Our more recent focus has been to influence the major development schemes in and around Cambridge so as to mitigate some of the worst extremes of the developers whilst promoting the best. Through meetings with developers and planners early in the process, we strive to inject a more human element into large-scale residential schemes in the form of green open spaces, children play areas, local shops, public art, and all the other little things that make a community. Rather than sterile housing estates, we encourage the creation of attractive environments in which people really enjoy living.

Monitoring our success in delivering such lofty ambitions is difficult as so much of our input is qualitative. We can however point to cases where, largely as a result of our influence, vital community elements have been built into schemes that would be bleaker without our involvement. Some developers are more willing to engage with us than others, but little by little we are building our influence by demonstrating that we are a realistic and pragmatic, but still very determined, organisation to work with.

For more on our Heritage Watch group, please click here: Heritage Watch group

Support our work

There are lots of ways you can support our planning work.

Volunteer: If you have a planning background and are passionate about the future of Cambridge, why not join one of our volunteer committees. Our planning work is divided between two groups:

  • Our core planning committee is staffed by volunteers with professional experience of town planning, policy making and architecture. The committee meets every two months to discuss national planning policy; Cambridge specific issues; and individual planning applications.
  • Our Heritage Working Group is a sub-group of our Planning Committee which has responsibility for determining the society’s position on planning policies and proposals that affect the city’s conservation areas, listed buildings and green spaces.

Become a member: With more members we can amplify our voice on local planning matters .and galvanise our work so we can keep pace with the pace of development in Cambridge, which is set to accelerate over the years ahead.

Chris Blencowe

Chris is an Emeritus Fellow of Pembroke College. Prior to coming to Cambridge in 2005, he spent a full career in the Royal Air Force. He was the Bursar of Pembroke College until his retirement in 2013. During this time he gained a strong interest in Cambridge Planning issues and chaired the Cambridge Colleges Environment and Planning Committee.

Terry Gilbert

Terry Gilbert has had a distinguished career in local government at chief officer level with several Metropolitan Councils. He has extensive experience in economic development and urban regeneration and has provided advice on development and town planning in the East of England.

Dr Robin Pellew OBE

Robin established the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge in 1987, one of only two United Nations agencies in the UK. He is the ex-CEO of the National Trust for Scotland (2001-06); Animal Health Trust, Newmarket (1998-2001); and World Wildlife Fund-UK (1993-98). Currently he is a non-executive Director of the National Forest Company and serving Chair of its committees for Conservation; Access & Recreation and Land Acquisition. He is also an independent consultant in the conservation, heritage and visitor attraction sector.

Stacey Weiser

Head of Planning & Conservation

Stacey has over twenty years’ experience in Interior Architecture and Design, Local Authority Conservation, Design and Planning and work with a national charity managing a grant project. Her role includes planning and heritage input, providing professional advice and support to the charity’s Planning Committee and Heritage Working Group, coordinating city-wide partnership projects of importance to the Charity, including our properties.

Cambridge Past, Present & Future are pleased to be working with Cambridge web designers ibe, who kindly donated the design of this site.

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