Breaking down the draft Gtr Cambridge Local Plan 2030-41 into bitesize chunks

Because it’s a monster of a document – and is too important to leave to the passionate few and/or those paid to work with it.

I’ve got no headspace for this because I’ve caught a nasty cold virus in the middle of a heatwave, so bear with me. (And/or please donate to my lemsip fund!)

The new draft local plan that sets out the criteria of what does and does not get built in Cambridge between 2030-41 has been published – have a look

It is currently being discussed as I type at a special meeting of the Joint Local Planning Advisory Group for both Cambridge & South Cambridgeshire. See here for the meeting paperswhich conveniently break down the draft into its component parts.

At the same time, The Cambridge Commons hosted an online event on Doughnut Economics in Cambridge. Given where we are now, it’s worth having a look back at an event series that The Cambridge Commons organised in 2017 called Imagine 2027, where a series of expert speakers presented and took Qs on a range of topics imagining the world in 2027. Next year we will be halfway through that ten year gap. You can rewatch the videos at – including Kate Raworth’s introduction of Doughnut Economics.

Using the Imagine 2027 format to examine the draft local plan, and the issues raised

When you look at the appendices in the meeting papers (listed below for convenience), each of them make for a discussion in their own right – give or take a bit of (a lot of!) overlap.

  • Appendix A: Greater Cambridge Local Plan: First Proposals (Preferred Options)
  • Appendix B: Sustainability Appraisal
  • Appendix C: Habitats Regulation Assessment
  • Appendix D1: Strategy topic paper
  • Appendix D2: Climate change topic paper
  • Appendix D3: Biodiversity and Green Spaces topic paper
  • Appendix D4: Wellbeing and Social Inclusion topic paper
  • Appendix D5: Great Places topic paper
  • Appendix D6: Homes topic paper
  • Appendix D7: Jobs topic paper
  • Appendix D8 GCLP Infrastructure topic paper
  • Appendix I: Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment

Could Cambridge & South Cambridgeshire host a similar set of public events in 2022 using a similar format? Amongst other things it would make for a useful sounding board for the South Cambridgeshire District Council elections in 2022 when the whole council is up for election. Having specialists in the field presenting on these issues may well raise the tone of political debate in the run up to those elections – in particular if they are filmed, because there will be no opportunity for someone to misinterpret who said what.

For me it would also be useful (and would clear up a lot of confusion) to have a qualified planner delivering a talk on what pieces of planning legislation and national policy guidance does what, given the front page of this week’s Cambridge Independent about the debate between the South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats and their Conservative MP for the constituency with the same name. My views are pretty obvious for anyone who has been following me, but the reality is someone properly qualified in the subject of town planning, who is more than familiar with planning law, needs to make the case as to where competency lies for each issue: Central government? Or local government? That way you reduce the chances of a local MP blaming a council of a different party political colour for the failings of their own party in government, and at the same time is reduces the chances of local councillors in control of a council blaming everything on central government.

Different villages and neighbourhoods won’t necessarily have identical priorities

Which means such a series of events can have a wider range of host venues and locations. As a result, the publicity for all of the events is likely to spread much wider, as well as giving a much wider range of people the chance of attending at least one event in person, give-or-take where we are with Covid-19 and whatever else the future may throw at us.

So for example some places might be particularly interested in biodiversity. Others might want to look at flood prevention. In places where lots of homes are likely to be built, a focus might be on the urban design standards of the new neighbourhoods.

It does not have to be restricted to the local plan only – which gives people the chance to comment on our transport visions too. The Campaign Group Rail Future has just published its latest East of England newsletter which includes a further iteration of the Cambridge Connect Light Rail Project.

Above – from p11 in Rail Future East. You can join Rail Future here – essential for anyone who commutes by rail – during my civil service days I bought Modern Railways Magazine as I wanted to know where my season ticket money was going! For those of you who want to know more about light rail as a concept, and where new systems are being built, they have a magazine too! There’s also Buses magazine that does the same for buses – which given the priority Mayor Dr Nik Johnson has given for buses, may be an idea for some of you to subscribe to as well. The more people who become more informed and knowledgeable, the better. We’re lucky in Cambridge regarding cycling with the Cambridge Cycling Campaign publishing a comprehensive magazine every quarter. And some of you may be interested in Living Streets – formerly the Pedestrians’ Association – see their research reports here. Their Cambridge group is now up and running (or walking) too.

A reminder of the sites that developers have submitted – where to find their detailed plans

Have a look at my previous blogpost and scroll halfway down. There are ***lots*** of interesting things to look at – and some consortia have clearly spent huge sums of money in anticipation that future local plans will bring forth a change of land status, and thus a land value uplift. A reminder to politicians that such uplifts need to be taxed properly.

Food for thought?

If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to:

%d bloggers like this: