What are the documents that inform the policies of Cambridge City Council?

And who ensures both city and county-level reports are consistent with each other?

They’ve kindly listed and summarised them for you all to read. The Cambridge Futures document that it’s in starts on Page 52 in the Agenda Pack for the Strategy & Resources Meeting on Monday 11 Oct. The links themselves are on P67. Alternatively you can look at the document separately in Item 7 in Additional Documents. I’ve extracted the latter for convenience below:

Cambridge’s Local Plan 2018 sets out delivers a vision for growth that will secure the priorities for Cambridge. The policies of the plan set out how we will meet the important development needs that must be accommodated, but also how we intend to protect this special city’s outstanding heritage and environmental assets. The plan will deliver new homes and jobs in a sustainable way, providing affordable housing and an accessible, compact city form where people can have sustainable choices about how they access work, study, leisure and other services.

The emerging joint Greater Cambridge Local Plan has established overarching themes of:

  • Climate Change
  • Biodiversity and green spaces
  • Wellbeing and social inclusion
  • Great places 

The joint Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Housing Strategy 2019-2023 sets out a vision of “Healthy, Safe, Affordable: Homes & Communities for All” with priorities grouped around:

  • Building the right homes in the right places that people need and can afford to live in
  • Enabling people to live settled lives
  • Building strong partnerships

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough’s Local Transport Plan [to be replaced by the Local Transport & Connectivity Plan in Nov 2021] contains a vision “to deliver a world-class transport network for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough that supports sustainable growth and opportunity for all.”

The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority’s Local Industrial Strategy sets out “how Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will maximise the economy’s strengths and remove barriers that remain to ensure the economy is fit for tomorrow’s world.”

The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority’s Skill Strategy contains a vision of “An inclusive world-class local skills eco-system that matches the needs of our employers, learners and communities.”

Cambridge City Council’s Climate Change Strategy sets out six key objectives:

  • Reducing carbon emissions from City Council buildings, land, vehicles and services
  • Reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions from homes and buildings in Cambridge
  • Reducing carbon emissions from transport in Cambridge
  • Reducing consumption of resources, reducing waste, and increasing recycling in Cambridge
  • Promoting sustainable food
  • Supporting Council services, residents and businesses to adapt to the impacts of climate change

Cambridge City Council has also produced a draft Biodiversity Strategy (2021-30) for consultation, with three key themes of:

  • Biodiversity mainstreaming
  • The Core
  • Nature in your neighbourhood

Cambridge City Council’s Anti-Poverty Strategy (2020-23) has three underpinning themes:

  • Addressing the causes and effects of poverty
  • Balancing direct delivery, partnership-working and influencing activity
  • Building the capacity of residents and communities, and facilitating
  • community action and mutual support

To these we can add:

And for leisure

Furthermore, there are a number of small infrastructure types that seem to require ministerial approval. Such as new adult education colleges.



The first one is on incompatibility: “Which policies across the different documents are incompatible with each other, and how will each one be resolved?”

Then there is the “Vision statement” which are ever so difficult to get right, and ever so easy to make as bland and meaningless as possible..

Above – any of the docs in Item 7

As mentioned, there are other things such as:

I’m trying to get my head around the above two, but as I understand it the Futures report is asking/challenging us on how to collectively recover (split infinitives) from Covid/Lockdowns even though the pandemic is still with us. People are still dying in their hundreds every week. See https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/. As of 05 Oct 2021 it was 166 deaths registered within 28 days of a positive CV19 test.

The Making Space for People document will become (when complete) a Supplementary Planning Document that the Greater Cambridge Planning Service will be able to refer to when working on planning applications.

Avril Lavigne – Complicated. Exactly.

The elephant in the room

Local government reform – a complete overhaul of the financing, structures, systems, processes, legal powers, legal/statutory duties, responsibilities and boundaries of local councils in England. The lot.

I return to the Royal Commission on Local Government in England 1969 and its unexecuted recommendations (see Lost Cambridge here) which included creating a new Greater Cambridge Unitary Council as on the map below.

Above – the no-nonsense approach from the Commissioners meant driving a steamroller over old historic county boundaries, and following the economic and transport links instead. You can already see the planned M11 extension on its way up to Cambridge. This would shortly be followed by what is now the A14 (then the A45 Cambridge Northern Bypass) which finally took the through traffic out of the city. Today in the Cambridgeshire Collection I read the newspaper article cuttings on town planning 1961-71. The institutions spent the entire decade squabbling about something that in the grand scheme of things was only in the gift of Central Government to solve.

“But we don’t have that!”

This is part of the analysis that needs to be done *by someone* – and it is very basic. Essentially it is a list that answers the following:

Who is responsible for what essential services, functions, duties, responsibilities and actions to deliver on the vision statement?

I reckon lots of people will be very depressed when they see what decades of fragmenting the public sector has done. It’s also one of the reasons why I find the report of the Royal Commission of 1969 so compelling (I’ve bought and digitised the summary pamphlet for you to read here) – even though I can see why Edward Heath’s government ditched it for what looks like party political reasons, but I’ve not got to the 1970s just yet.

Above for those of you who like cheap and cheerful second hand books and lessons from history, many of the issues discussed are in the old Penguin books on ABeBooks.

Actually, a list of those functions along with who is responsible in law might be useful for councillors and senior council officials when it comes to prioritising spending

Whoever takes over from Cllr Lewis Herbert faces a desperate financial situation given the failures of the previous Housing & Local Government Secretary to make good on his commitments to fund councils for the impact the Pandemic has had on their budgets. I also don’t believe Gove will deliver anything like the radical devolution of funding and powers needed for local government without strings attached that are so heavy they may as well be ropes. It simply isn’t in his party’s history or DNA to give any local council the powers that would enable them to deliver what they see as municipal socialism.

And while Gove’s opposite number in Labour, Mr Steve Reed MP made this speech to the Labour Party Conference not so long ago, ticking lots of ‘power to the people’ boxes, there was very little on policy specifics in terms of either increased grant funding from central government (as Labour did under Blair and Brown – but again with lots of strings attached), or whether it will enable councils to raise money from a far wider range of revenue sources.

And finally…

I’ll be doing a lightning talk at the AGM of the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations on the Future of Cambridge. You can sign up for free here – it’s all online. Over 150 people have already done so.

Also a ***big thank you*** to several of you who have donated to help cover my costs. Acquiring old books can be very expensive! Also I want to get more people going into the Cambridgeshire Collection to look at the original large town planning reports from times gone by. If you go to Lion Yard/Petty Cury regularly, the Central Library is in there (and it has *free wifi!*)

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:

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