Why so long – almost unchanged bar relatively small housing numbers change from strategy and sites in original submitted plans?
- plans were way too long
- They somehow really managed to annoy the inspectors – repeatedly
The development strategy for the Greater Cambridge area – which proposes 44,000 new jobs and 33,500 new homes by 2031 – was given approval by independently appointed government planning inspectors after they reviewed the Local Plans submitted by South Cambs District Council and Cambridge City Council.
The inspectors have written to the two councils with their final reports following examinations that have taken more than four years. The plans were submitted in March 2014.
The examinations – much of which were undertaken jointly – included reviewing evidence supplied by the two councils, representations of objection and support made during public consultations, site visits and a series of hearings.The plans are not adopted by the councils until they are debated and confirmed at respective full-council meetings being held at the end of September and mid-October. However, the councils receiving the inspectors’ reports means significant weight can be attributed to the Local Plans in decision making.
Key housing sites in the plans that have been found sound by the inspectors include around 900 homes in the better-served South Cambridgeshire villages, a new village of approximately 3,500 homes at Bourn Airfield, an expansion to Cambourne to the west, and an extension to Cambridge Biomedical Campus to support the growth of this cluster.
Other key policies in the plans and findings of the inspectors include a commitment to an early review of the Local Plans in 2019 with submission for examination in 2022, confirmation by the inspectors that the councils’ Green Belt evidence is robust and that no additional sites, beyond the limited sites proposed by the councils, need to be allocated for development in the Green Belt.
The inspectors have also confirmed that the plan makes adequate provision for Gypsies and Travellers who have been identified as meeting the current government planning definition.
Barrington District councillor Aidan Van de Weyer, who is also SCDC’s deputy leader and lead cabinet member for strategic planning and transport, said: “Today is about looking forward as the plan has been found sound and this gives our communities the certainty over how we can deliver well planned and managed growth.
“However, we are really disappointed it has taken so long for the government inspectors to complete their review as we understand this was one of the longest examinations in the country.
“This is simply too long by the inspectors and has meant the wrong type of development, in the wrong locations, has been approved in many of our villages.
“People growing up here need somewhere to live and by building more homes we will help deliver a range of properties that, when you add up all your living costs, are affordable for people to live in. I am a parent and want my children to be able to get on the housing ladder near where they grew up, as will thousands of other parents in the area.
“It is never possible to put forward a plan that has complete consensus but if we had been in power at the Council when this process began, the plan put forward would have been different. However, we need to put the best interests of the area as a whole first and our job now is to ensure that we put existing communities, especially those living nearest to where new homes will be built, at the heart of developing plans. That’s the assurance I can give to all communities now.
“Part of this is ensuring new homes and communities go hand-in-hand with the necessary transport improvements and facilities, such as GP surgeries. We will be working with the mayor, Greater Cambridge Partnership and county council to make sure transport improvements happen.”
The South Cambridgeshire Local Plan will be presented to a cabinet meeting in late September before a final decision on adoption is made at a council meeting on Thursday, September 27.
The Cambridge Local Plan will be discussed at a Policy and Transport Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday, October 2, before a final decision on adoption is made at a council meeting on Thursday, October 18.
The Inspectors’ final reports can be found by visiting scambs.gov.uk/local-plan-examination.