Projects & Campaigns – Heritage & Planning

We carry out projects and campaigns to protect, improve and celebrate local heritage and the green setting of Cambridge and the surrounding area.

Cambridge Blue Plaque Scheme

In 2001, Cambridge launched its Blue Plaque Scheme to celebrate the millennium. The goal is to commemorate people and events that have made a significant impact on Cambridge, the UK or, indeed, the world.

The Blue Plaque Scheme is part of local charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future.

A separate Cambridge Blue Plaque website has details of all the plaques that have been put up, their locations and information about the people and events that are celebrated. Click here.

How to nominate a person or event for a blue plaque

If you would like to nominate a person or an event, please email:

For the nomination, you will need to:

– Tell us their name or details of the event

– Tell us the property or site on which the plaque should be placed, including the address and ideally also the name of the owner

– Tell us why you think that the person or the event made a significant impact on life in the city, the UK or the world

People to be commemorated should:

  • have been dead for at least ten years
  • have been born or educated in Cambridge, or lived here
  • be eminent through their profession or calling
  • have made a significant contribution to the life of the city and its residents
  • merit recognition because of an outstanding or notorious act

Events to be commemorated should:

  • have occurred at least ten years ago
  • be instantly recognisable to the majority of the general public
  • have significance in the history of the city, county, UK or world

Who decides who should get a blue plaque?

A group of dedicated volunteers makes up the Cambridge Blue Plaque Committee. They include local historians and representatives from Cambridge City Council and Cambridge Past, Present & Future. They consider requests for blue plaques and decide whether or not one should be put up. They have a set of criteria they use to help them make this decision.

One of the biggest challenges is finding a relevant building where the plaque is visible and the property owner is willing to have the plaque. There are several people that we would like to commemorate but we are unable to put the plaque on the relevant building.

We also have to raise funds to pay for each plaque and have it installed. This is easier if the person/event is connected in some way to an organisation or family that would be willing to fund the cost of the plaque and a celebratory event.

How to help the Cambridge Blue Plaque Scheme

You can help by donating towards the costs of creating, installing and maintaining Cambridge Blue Plaques by clicking here.

You can help by giving your time. The Cambridge Blue Plaque Scheme is run by volunteers. We need help with administration, fundraising, organising events or, if you are a local historian or researcher. If you would like to help us then please email

You can help by telling others about the Cambridge Blue Plaques

History of the Cambridge Blue Plaque Association 

In 2001, Cambridge launched its Blue Plaque Scheme to celebrate the millennium. The goal is to commemorate people and events that have made a significant impact on Cambridge, the UK or, indeed, the world.

A voluntary Cambridge Blue Plaque Association was set up to run the scheme which included representatives from Cambridge City Council, Cambridge University and local business.

So far, the scheme has placed over 29 plaques around the city, celebrating subjects as diverse as racing drivers and botanists to refugees from the Spanish Civil War.

At the start of 2018 the Cambridge Blue Plaque Association became part of local charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future.

Keeping Cambridge Special Workshops

Keeping Cambridge Special is an initiative started by members of Cambridge Past Present & Future and other interested parties. It aims to get key players from all sectors of the community together to discuss some of the major challenges facing Cambridge and its surroundings. With speakers and participants from all walks of life, the format is designed to engage people, discuss topics, explore new ideas, influence and give people a chance to be heard. The first event was held in October 2016 and the most recent in January 2018. To stay up to date with planning related events please visit our dedicated Twitter feed


2018 Workshop

This workshop bought together over 100 local residents, councillors, officers and planners to discuss how Cambridge could address the challenge of having more people moving around the city in ways that would enhance quality of life and preserve the city’s heritage.

Robert Myers (landscape architect); Joel Carré (Cambridge City Council); Charlene Rohr (RAND Europe) and Kieran Perkins (5th Studio) led the discussion of ‘movement and spaces’.

The audience debated further in 10 break-out groups.  Out of this came a number of ideas – such as co–design, challenging the brief, sharing spaces, Community Forest in the greenbelt and ideas for making sustainable travel the norm.

This ideas and issues raised in this workshop will feed into a Cambridge City ‘Spaces & Movement’ planning document which gets underway in 2018.

2016 Workshop


CambridgePPF wishes to thank all of those who helped make these days run smoothly, as well as the speakers, videographer, volunteers and attendees.

2030 Vision

In 2011, a group of individuals – including representatives from CambridgePPF – came together to launch 2030 Vision for the Cambridge sub-region, a major initiative designed to complement the activities of local authorities and the local enterprise partnership (LEP). With Cambridge growing fast the ambition was to try to find solutions to the challenges posed by the city’s continuing growth without compromising the quality of life experienced by local residents and visitors to the area.

Twenty independent workshops were held from 2011-2012, on ten different Cambridge-focused topics. More than 600 people stepped forward to take part including businessmen and women, academics, councillors, representatives from local residents associations, key workers and sixth form students.

Download a copy of the 2030_Vision_report, watch a video that was created to support the launch of the report or visit the 2030 Vision website.

Cambridgeshire Green Belt

In 1955, the founding members of CambridgePPF were heavily involved in establishing the Cambridge Green Belt – a ring of land that surrounds the city and is designed to prevent urban sprawl. Today, the protection of the Green Belt remains one of our main objectives.

With Cambridge facing huge development pressure, several sites within the Green Belt have been earmarked for housing development in the CambridgePPF Examination of Local Plan page that are being prepared for the area by Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.

We believe this move is unnecessary – particularly when alternative brownfield sites exist. While we realise that the Green Belt cannot be treated as sacrosanct for all time, we do believe that it plays a key role in keeping Cambridge an attractive place to live and in maintaining the historic fabric of the city, and that it should therefore be maintained.

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.

Protecting the Green Belt

We’re extremely vocal when it comes to protecting the Green Belt. Since 2011 we’ve been trying to convince planning officials working on the new local plan that green field areas surrounding the city are not the best place for new housing developments.

Search our planning submission database for documents relating to the Green Belt – you’ll find letters and detailed responses submissions which we have sent to local authority contacts.

You can also read our press releases on Green Belt matters:

20 July 2012: Keep off the green belt says local charity

3 September 2013: CambridgePPF submits final call for City to reverse Green Belt development plans

27 September 2013: Griff Rhys Jones lends support to local Green Belt campaign

Save the Green Belt campaign

Save the Cambridge Green Belt campaign

In 2013 local residents from across Cambridge joined forces to launch the Save the Cambridge Green Belt campaign and fight Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council’s decision to target pockets of Green Belt land for housing development as part of the local planning process.

Together the residents lobbied local decision makers and created a petition opposing development at Wort’s Causeway (south of Cambridge); off Fulbourn Road (south east of Cambridge); and in Comberton, Sawston and Impington.

We endorsed the general aims of the campaign and were in contact with local residents leading the campaign throughout Autumn 2013, offering assistance where appropriate. We also promoted the petition to our members.

Origins of the Green Belt

CambridgePPF was founded in 1928 with the support of local authorities, the University, and the government’s Chief Planning Inspector. At the time, there was a concern that Cambridge would suffer the same fate as Oxford, where the large Morris motor works had been established on the city’s outskirts.

There was also alarm in some quarters that Cambridgeshire countryside would become cluttered with unsightly and indiscriminate housing and that the roads leading into the town would be lined with “ribbon” development.

One of the charity’s original aims was to put pressure on local authorities to adopt a plan to regulate local development. When it became obvious that this would take too long and probably be ineffective, the society – with assistance from the Pilgrim Trust and local benefactors including Professor G.M.Trevelyan – embarked on a programme of acquiring land to the west of Cambridge, mainly around the village of Coton.

Money was also raised to enable the charity to enter into deeds of covenant with local landowners to prevent development. Grantchester Meadows were protected in this way. In parallel, our forefathers campaigned actively to ensure that the local town planning scheme – when it was drawn up in the late 1930s – restricted the growth of the town, a policy that was carried into post-war plans and laid the foundations of the city’s green belt.

Read more about The_origins_of_the_Green_Belt in a paper written by Anthony Cooper, a core member of our planning committee.

Cam Catchment Partnership

Together with the Cam Valley Forum we have gathered together a number of key local organisations to develop a comprehensive strategy for the River Cam, its tributaries and riverside land. Representatives from local authorities, the Environment Agency, the Wildlife Trust and the Cam Conservancy have joined forces with the charities to create an overarching vision for the world-famous waterway and an action plan that will help to protect its valuable features and unlock funding for future projects and improvements.

Learn more about this fascinating project or take a look at our press release about its launch:

CambridgePPF helps get debate flowing about River Cam corridor

Market Square Placecheck

In November 2013, ten of our planning volunteers met outside Cambridge Guildhall to identify what they liked, disliked and thought could be improved about the Market Square. Taking a scientific approach to documenting their thoughts the group used Placecheck English Heritage, a web-based tool developed by English Heritage, designed to enable communities to articulate what it is about their local area they want preserved or changed.

The process reminded the team what they love about the square – a vibrant and rewarding place to linger. But participants were also struck by how much better it could become in terms of its contribution to the daytime and night-time economies, and in its aesthetic appeal. The team working on this project have begun to formulate a vision for the area, which would allow for uninterrupted use of the Square by market traders, and allow stalls to be folded away – opening up the space to music, theatre, more cafes, restaurants and street performances. Market traders, city councillors, professional conservation and landscape architects have now joined the discussion.

It is now 2017 and the desire for an improved market square seems to be heating up. We have been in discussions and working with the Judge Business School, Freeland Rees Roberts Architects and the City Council, amongst others, to increase awareness and garner support for the project. A lot of work has been done so far and we would like to thank our volunteers Helen Bradbury and Peter Landshoff in particular.

Hodson’s Folly

As you cross the foot and cycle bridge to Coe Fen from Sheep’s Green you may have noticed a small walled riverside area containing an old boathouse and a roofless folly. This is known as ‘Hodson’s Folly’ – after the Mr. Hodson who apparently built it in the 19th century as a private area where his daughters could bathe in the river. Our heritage working group is considering ways to rescue this walled area from neglect and would be extremely interested in any information regarding its history. We would especially appreciate old photographs of the site. Contact us if you have information or images to share.


Consultation to improve Hodson’s Folly
This unusual feature at the edge of the River Cam is falling into disrepair. CambridgePPF has worked with Cambridge City Council to seek your views on possible options for the folly and its surrounds. To date, CambridgePPF have secured Section 106 Funding to start the project. Fortunately, Carter Jonas has since taken up the charge and is now fundraising to restore the folly. Support this worthy project by visiting

Landbeach Tithe Barn

The Tithe Barn now has a strong group of people working to support and restore the building. If you would like more information about the latest news, please visit their website at

CambridgePPF was previously involved with the Landbeach Society to help find a future for this wonderful Tudor Tithe Barn. For forty years the barn has been leased to the Landbeach Society by South Cambridgeshire District Council. Repairs are urgently required so action was needed to secure its future and identify a long-term purpose. CambridgePPF worked with key stakeholders to organise open days and workshops in order to discuss options, raise awareness and identify possible funding routes.

Protecting pubs

In Cambridge nearly a quarter of the city’s pubs have been lost since the start of the millennium. From 2010 to 2013, CambridgePPF has lobbied and campaigned alongside Cambridge CAMRA and others to try and halt the closure and redevelopment of community pubs across the city.

While various reasons were been cited for the decline of local public houses, including cheap supermarket deals on alcohol and the smoking ban, in Cambridge there is another reason; the high short-term profit to be made from the redevelopment of pubs and any associated land, into housing.

Along the way there were some successes but there were also a number of disappointments. We continue to keep a close eye on the pubs that remain, which we believe are valuable community assets.

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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