How to scrutinise the additional 41 new sites developers have put forward for Cambridge & South Cambs

Some of you will have seen the front page of the Cambridge Independent with some alarm.

As things stand, the developers won’t be able to do anything for now because they don’t have planning permission, and under the existing local plan they can only build on land allocated for development, for which we are told there is a six year supply for Cambridge & South Cambridgeshire. At the Beehive Centre Redevelopment event last week, one of the industry people there told me the equivalent for science and laboratory sites was about three months – hence why any new site that comes onto the market gets snapped up very quickly – and why RailPen, the pension fund that now owns the Beehive Centre, wants to turn it into a large science park with medium-high buildings next to the railway line. See my initial thoughts here.

This post is a recap of how to make your way through the maze to scrutinise the new submissions from developers for the emerging 2030-41 Greater Cambridge Local Plan.

The first page to go to is the “Call for sites”

It’s at https://www.greatercambridgeplanning.org/emerging-plans-and-guidance/greater-cambridge-local-plan/call-for-sites/

It looks like the page below.

Above – you need to scroll down to the bit that says “Call for Sites results”. The link to click on is the one that says New and Amended Site Submissions June 2022 (xlsx format)

You then get presented with a spreadsheet that looks like the one below.

Above – a detail of the spreadsheet.

  • Column A = site reference number
  • Column B = the name of the site – scroll through this column to find the one you want – eg this one highlighted in grey
  • Column C = the web link attached to the site you are interested in.

On the row that you are interested in, copy and paste the weblink in column C of the row you’ve highlighted, and paste it into a new web browser window. That will give you something that looks like a normal webpage, and looks like this below.

Above – you see the tab that says “Supporting Evidence” in black rather than dark pink? That’s the one you want to click on. That will display the hidden supporting documents – where the interesting things are. In this case, I’m looking at the submissions by a well-known property firm acting for a very well-known Cambridge College and land owner.

I picked out one of the documents – employment land needs appraisal. How much new employment land sites does one of the top property consultancies think Cambridge needs? You can already see this is a 40 page document so their figures will make for interesting reading – in particular how they came to their conclusions.

Scroll down to the contents.

Above – the contents speak for themselves. Pick out the parts that you are interested in.

And repeat for other documents, and also for other sites you may be interested in. It is the evidence bases that need close scrutiny as much as the sites selected.

I hope this helps bring much-needed scrutiny. If you find anything that you feel needs a closer look, there are a number of people you can go to.

  1. Your local city or district councillor – see https://www.writetothem.com/
  2. Your local parish council if you live outside Cambridge City
  3. The Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations – https://www.fecra.org.uk/
  4. Cambridge Past, Present, and Future – https://www.cambridgeppf.org/
  5. Any local campaign groups you may be aware of or are active in.

There is the option of going to the local media, but there is no guarantee that they will take on your story – and if they do, they will inevitably be short on space. A decade ago, the former Chief Reporter at the Cambridge Evening News, Chris Elliott gave a guide to voluntary and community groups in Cambridge about how to pitch to the media. I wrote up his advice on my old blog here.

Hope this helps.

If you found this useful and are able to contribute towards my ongoing research into the history, current events, and the future plans for Cambridge, please consider a small donation at https://ko-fi.com/antonycarpen.

%d bloggers like this: