What Cambridge City & South Cambs District Councils say about housebuilding in 2021/22

The above image is from Thomas Sharp’s book Town and Countryside from 1931 – which I’ve digitised here. What councils have to say about housebuilding completions are published in annual monitoring reports. Very lengthy ones that are not easy to fined and even more difficult to scrutinise and summarise. Hopefully this will help.

After reading the Greater Cambridge Local Plan and the Annual Monitoring Reports, you’ll understand the need for paid local journalists with the specialist knowledge, experience & expertise – and the time, to summarise what’s happening on local development in & around Cambridge. Imagine the cost of employing a qualified town planner who is also a qualified journalist to be your specialist town planning reporter. That’s the level of reporting we could do with given the scale of developments here. And more than one person too.

Until then, you’re stuck with my attempts when my heart health & fatigue allows. Hence being reliant on family support and crowd-funding because there is no way I could do this full time. (The last four blogposts (the final ones of June 2022) which were on the back of getting to the at-short-notice/under-publicised East West Rail consultation knocked me out completely on Friday, and on Sunday too. (Too fatigued to leave the house)). On Saturday I made an attempt to get to one of the Cambridge Open Studios open house events (I made it!) hence being bed-bound until Sunday evening.

Cambridge’s Big Weekend 2022 on Parker’s Piece

My hope was that I’d have enough capacity to get to at least one of the events for The Big Weekend eventually came to nothing. I like to get round to filming at least one of the acts on normally. So here’s Boney M’s Maizie Williams and band from 2016.

When you consider the number of people who go to these events put on by local councils across the country, up-and-coming bands should be jumping at them. An audience of several thousand people, and all of the airplay & publicity you get on local radio?

Given that Cambridge’s population is now over 145,000 people, and South Cambridgeshire’s increasing from around 148,800 in 2011 to 162,000 in 2021 (over a much wider geographical area it must be said), this raises serious questions about Cambridge City Council’s looming culture strategy given Cambridge’s position as a regional centre, not just one for city residents or those in the surrounding district. Things like The Big Weekend, The Strawberry Fair, and the Midsummer Fair are already events that people living outside of Cambridge will travel a fair distance to get to. The problem at the moment is the authorities responsible for transport did not take up the chance to survey people.

Above – I did ask!

“How many homes were built in 2021/22?”

Too early to say at the moment, but their predictions in their Housing Trajectory of 01 April 2022 were as follows:

“[Greater Cambridge Planning Service] anticipated that in 2021-2022 there would be 762 dwellings completed in
Cambridge and 1,609 dwellings completed in South Cambridgeshire, giving an overall total of 2,371 dwellings anticipated to be completed in Greater Cambridge”

Greater Cambridge Housing Trajectory and Five Year Housing Land Supply Report, p19, published 01 April 2022

Over the past decade, a separate, earlier report states:

“Between 2011 and 2021 (the first ten years of the plan period for both adopted Local Plans), 16,114 net additional dwellings were completed (7,806 dwellings in Cambridge and 8,308 dwellings in South Cambridgeshire)”

Authority Monitoring Report forCambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, 2020/2021 – published Feb 2022

So those 7,806 dwellings would have incorporated the population rise of just over 22,000 people going to by the census numbers 2011-2021 – not accounting for extensions and conversions of family homes into houses of multiple occupation. At least I don’t think it does – does it? (Note to self – need to check).

How does this look year by year?

See the table below.

Above – from p2 of Appendix 2: Tables and Charts – which presumably takes the data from Cambridgeshire Insight’s housing and planning page – which hasn’t been updated since 2017. If someone from the county council is reading this, please give them a shout? Ta. (Only people may want to play with the data and having it as either image or PDF files doesn’t help anyone).

Comparing predictions with completions.

Looking at the Housing Trajectory Report (01 April 2022) we see a host of tables looking like this:

Above – Allocations at New Settlements, p39 of the Greater Cambridge Housing Trajectory Report from 01 April 2022.

The columns extend to the year 2036 but it enables people to ask what was promised, what was completed and to get councillors, officers, planners and developers – and even ministers, to account for the differences. Because given what we know of our local water resources, we know that we’ve got ***big issues*** with this already. And I’m not convinced that Ministers, OfWat, The Environment Agency or the privatised water companies have got the plans or the calibre of personnel collectively who are willing and able to deal with them within their existing broken structures – and a system that incentivises executive bonuses and dividend payouts to shareholders over maintaining high environmental standards. And that buck stops at the desk of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs. Failing that, the Prime Minister. Which speaks volumes in itself given this weekend’s lurid headlines.

“How much has Cambridge got to build?”

Let’s quote again:

“The Cambridge Local Plan 2018 (adopted in October 2018) requires (in Policy 3) that provision is made for 14,000 dwellings in Cambridge during the period 2011 to 2031 to meet the current objectively assessed need.”

Paragraph 55, April 2022

Which is not a small number and could easily increase the population by another 25,000 for the 2031 census. A reminder that by that time the population data will be measured of the number of people living within a municipal boundary last refreshed and extended nearly a century before – in 1935.

Above – the map that came with the Cambridge (Extension) Order 1934 (from this history of our county in maps) that came into force for the elections the following year. We did ask for more, but ministers said No!

It’s worth noting that in the 1960s when things came around again, Cambridge Architect & Chief Town Planner, Gordon Logie predicted that Cambridge would be awarded the extended boundaries and used that assumption to predict the future growth of our city.

Above – Gordon Logie’s predictions from The Future Shape of Cambridge, in the Cambridgeshire Collection on the third floor of the Central Library.

This is the same Gordon Logie who wanted to get a new large concert hall for Cambridge in the 1960s – because he knew the direction of travel that Cambridge was going in, and understood the importance of Cambridge as a regional centre. Hence his grandiose schemes at the time – which inevitably got tangled up by the mess that local government in England was and still is.

The new completions for Northstowe are on page 125 of the Report, with the table below on the following page – something that has been in the news of late re lack of community facilities.

Above – the completions of developments at Northstowe on p126 of the Report

Newbuild estates built without community facilities? That sounds dreadfully familiar!

Arbury/King’s Hedges in the 1960s

Below – Arbury North later became King’s Hedges ward.

25 March 1965 in the Cambridge Daily News, from the Cambridgeshire Collection.

Cllr Ann Tweed (Lab – West Chesterton) stated:

“They have no facilities for social recreation. It seems that the council’s chief officers feel that because there are two schools in the area – which provide evening centre activities – this is enough”

Cllr Ann Tweed (Lab – West Chesterton, 1963-66) to Cambridge City Council’s Housing Committee, as reported in the Cambridge Daily News on 25 March 1966 – about four months after Labour’s Harold Wilson won the 1964 General Election)

The above is just one case study. With over 500 pages, you will need to browse through the report and raise any issues with your local councillors (https://www.writetothem.com/ or via local area committees – which need a refresh), residents’ associations (see FeCRA here), parish councils (see details here for South Cambridgeshire), or campaign groups that you may be involved with. Where there are failings by developers, you may wish to raise them with your local MP (https://www.writetothem.com/) , and ask them to write to the Minister for Housing and Planning to ask what actions they can take. Mindful that there’s a general election within the next two years and four months.

I 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.

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