Does the Cambridge Bio Boom Justify Green Belt Loss?

Cambridge News

Cambridge’s “bio-boom” is a justification for building on green belt land, developers have argued.

Property magnates have called for restrictions to be lifted in the south of the city in order to continue the biotech industry’s growth.

Speaking at a meeting to examine Cambridge and South Cambridgeshires’ local plans, Michael Carpenter, of developers Pigeon Land, said: “We hear from the city council that they wish to continue the ‘Cambridge phenomenon”’.

“Of course, without land in the right place, we will not be able to continue it.

“In the two areas of ‘biotech-clusters, there are only now 3.5 acres for the market place.”

He added: “It’s important to emphasise the huge exceptional economic circumstances of this, which is even more important to Cambridge than the housing.”

The city is home to more than 1,500 IT and biotech firms and will soon include the global headquarters for AstraZeneca, which will employ 2,000 staff.

Many of these concentrate near Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Biomedical Campus.

The Green Belt includes parts of Great Shelford and extends as far south as Pampisford and Fowlmere.

Colin Brown, of property consultants Carter Jonas, added: “There is a need to deliver houses near to the jobs in Cambridge

“There is an affordability crisis here that needs to be addressed and there are a number of sites that will lead to significant sustainable development.”

A recent report by HomeLets described Cambridge as one of the UK’s least affordable cities for rental value.

Cambridge City and South Cambs District Councils’ (SCDC) draft local plans have plotted the growth of around 44,000 new jobs and 33,000 homes to 2031.

But, the councils have faced opposition from residents, including those of Wort’s Causeway, of which the surrounding green belt land has been earmarked for 230 homes.

 Jeremy Jones, resident and supporter of Save the Cambridge Green Belt campaign accused the district council of failing to do a “robust enough” investigation of the region’s brownfield alternatives.

He said: “The city council has been proactive with seeking brownfield sites, while there is a large amount of brownfield land in South Cambs [adjoining authority] that has not been evaluated.

“We are creating exceptional circumstances to build on the green belt without having done the work.

“There is no exceptional circumstance here, but bad planning and the justification that the green belt has to pay for it.”

Caroline Hunt, planning policy manager for SCDC, said the council had “looked rigorously” into the issue.

She added: “We want to continue the success of the Cambridge phenomenon. It’s about looking at all the options without harm to the green belt.”

The land to the South of Cambridge Pidgeon Land is referring to is almost entirely in South Cambs.  Lack of proper joint plan making has meant it has not been throughly considered in the past, whilst Pigeon Land sadly put forward a scheme from the 1980 including a low density business park and despite being next to twpo railway lines no new stsion or connection to Cambridge.

 

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