The Preferred Options for the new Local Plan have just been published for scrutiny at Committees and Cabinet before going to public consultation in November. The result of two years intensive work by us as your Councillors to shape the priorities and spatial options that planners have drafted for housing, jobs and green spaces in the new Local Plan. For the first time ever we commissioned evidence on the water cycle because we are very aware of the crisis facing our water supply, rivers and chalk streams. We also commissioned the first-ever study on the carbon emissions that would result from different options for sites. However, there are always trade-offs when trying to achieve this difficult balance and we look forward to hearing your responses around the choice of sites. You can find the published papers and the body of evidence here: https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=492&MId=4077&Ver=4
Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins, lead Cabinet Member for planning said, “this is an exceptionally green plan with the environment and affordability of homes at its very heart. By meeting the need for new homes and jobs we will be doing our utmost to ensure that people are not priced out of the area or forced into long commutes which contribute to climate change.
Residents of South Cambridgeshire have told us how important reducing carbon emissions and enhancing the environment is, so we have prioritised locations with excellent public transport, shifting the emphasis away from unsustainable locations in rural villages. For all sites we will require the provision of 40% affordable housing.
The preferred options for the Local Plan has a good balance of locations with only 4% of the proposed new homes in rural areas, helping to preserve the precious character of our villages. The proposal goes out to public consultation in November and we look forward to listening to you again.
The Green Belt is a vital tool for protecting the unique setting of Cambridge City as well as protecting our villages from urban sprawl whilst maintaining their character and providing green corridors for bio diversity.
It is only possible to make changes to the Green Belt if there is very strong evidence to justify it. Just 4 of the sites put forward for the Local Plan met these rigorous tests. Two are extensions to research sites of national importance: The Cambridge Biomedical Campus and Babraham. The other two are housing allocations close to excellent public transport: 20 homes in Oakington next to the guided busway and 100 homes in Great Shelford near to the railway station”.
Cllr Bridget Smith, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council said, “This preferred option for the Local Plan is not just about development. Far from it. We are pushing as hard as we can to bring considerable environmental benefits along with it. Following our first ever Call for Green Sites, the proposals also include suggested new green spaces and wildlife projects. Additionally the plans set a high bar for building standards, including recommendations for low carbon buildings.
We have also commissioned really robust evidence that shows how critical it is to reduce the amount of water taken from the groundwater aquifer. The preferred options for the Local Plan puts constraints on the amount of development if the water problem is not solved and Central Government has to step up and invest in advance of any further growth. There must be sufficient water to meet all demands and critically to guarantee that our valued chalk streams are able to recover and thrive”.