The conversation to help create “the most important document most people have never heard of” has begun after a report was published setting out questions on how people live, work and play in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire.
What’s next for homes, jobs and the environment in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire?
The Local Plan for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire will look at how the Greater Cambridge area will develop up until 2040 and beyond – including where homes will be built, new jobs located, what education facilities are needed and how people can get around.
Councillors from both Councils have said they expect the process to develop the Local Plan to take around four years and they want to make sure local people help “kick the tyres” all the way through, so it is tested as it is developed.
The report published yesterday (Monday) will shape the conversation with communities across the Greater Cambridge area about what the big issues are that need to be addressed and how people can get involved.
Councillors will be debating the report at meetings over the next month and, subject to agreement, an Issues and Options consultation on the Local Plan will launch on Monday 25 November.
To make sure the local community helps to develop the new Local Plan from the start, the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service – a strategic partnership between the two councils – has held some early engagement workshops with Parish Councils, residents’ associations, businesses, developers and interest groups.
The two councils’ current Local Plans set out how the two areas will be developed up until 2031, with 33,500 new homes to be built and 44,000 new jobs to be created.
Some of the key themes already emerging for the new joint Local Plan, to 2040 and beyond, include:
- Responding to climate change
- Increasing biodiversity and green spaces
- Promoting wellbeing and equality
- Delivering quality places
- Jobs and employment
- Infrastructure – including transport links, schools, health and utilities
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Planning, Cllr Tumi Hawkins, said: “The Local Plan is the most important document most people have never heard of. It touches everyone’s lives as it sets out how Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire will change over the coming decades. The current Local Plans set out a vision up to 2031 but, on climate change alone, the world is moving so quickly that we already know we need to think bigger and bolder in the next Plan.
“We are right at the start of the four-year process which will define our shared vision for the future; we are therefore keen to hear from as many people as possible what they feel the issues facing the area are – and what the potential options might be.
"It does not matter if you are looking to put an extension on the side of your home or business, or developing a new town such as Northstowe, the Local Plan will set out the local planning policies your application will be judged against.”
Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces for Cambridge City Council, said: “The Local Plan is a vitally important document for all of us living in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, and we will make sure everyone has a chance to shape it. We have already run a series of workshops with Parish Councils, residents’ associations, councillors, businesses and other groups which have helped us put this document together by talking about the issues we face. Now it is important for everyone to get involved and help us develop our ideas further so that we have a Local Plan that works for all and deals with the current high levels of inequality in the area.
“Both councils have declared a climate emergency, and we will put the environment at the centre of the new plan to make sure we protect what makes our area special, putting policies in place to improve the environment in line with the two councils’ zero carbon ambitions and concerns about species loss. Considering what this should look like is part of the process and could include things such as higher environmental standards on new homes or lower water consumption, going beyond national targets where we can.
“Subject to Councillors’ agreement, we will begin consulting on the issues, and looking at options to tackle them, in November, and we will be publicising the ways that local residents can contribute.”
The shared Greater Cambridge Planning Service is already working on gathering data to help work out what is needed to meet the needs of the area. This includes the number of homes we need to support the jobs economic growth will create and the land that might be available for development. The data forms a large part of the evidence needed to show the Local Plan can be delivered. Local residents and businesses will consider this further in future consultations over the Local Plan process.
South Cambridgeshire is the second largest district in Cambridgeshire.