Northeast Cambridge Community Forum

Northeast Cambridge Forum

Alongside Cambridge City Council, we have been running community forums for several years. These are open, public meetings bringing together stakeholders, residents, planners and developers to discuss and disseminate information regarding the development of specific major growth sites. They have no powers, funding or voting rights, but help dialogue between those building and those most affected by the development. They have been chaired by local, or relevant Councillors, and assisted by senior officers at the meetings. Notes and presentations of the meetings are recorded and posted on the local authorities' webpages.

Northeast Cambridge (NEC) includes 182 hectares of brownfield land, just a 15-minute cycle ride from the city centre. Funding from central government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund to relocate the Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the area and create a significant new city district. The Greater Cambridge Shared Planning service are developing an Area Action Plan for the North East Cambridge area to guide all development in the area over the next 20 years.

Due to the cross-boundary nature of the proposed developable area, we are working together with City Council to facilitate this community forum, which aims to provide a space for local residents to engage with developers and public sector bodies about NEC.

The forum has an alternating Chair and includes representatives from:

  • South Cambridgeshire District Council
  • Cambridge City Council
  • Greater Cambridge Planning Service
  • Cambridgeshire County Council 

Sign up to hear more about Northeast Cambridge

Next meeting: To be confirmed

Time: 
Format:

If you would like to ask a question or would like a specific topic or theme discussed, please email this request to north@scambs.gov.uk.  

Aims

  • to provide residents and stakeholders with regular updates regarding strategic development sites
  • to provide an opportunity for residents and stakeholders to share their interests/concerns with relevant council officers, including those from the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service (‘Planning’) and Sustainable Communities and Wellbeing (‘Communities’) teams, Elected Members, developers and other key stakeholders such as Cambridgeshire County Council and Anglian Water


Scope and purpose

  • The developments covered by this forum those comprising the wider North East Cambridge Area Action Plan site
  • To provide regular, accurate and timely information to residents regarding the above developments
  • To offer an opportunity for residents to raise issues of interest or concern for existing and new communities with a view to enhancing the quality of community life and the environment in the wider North East Cambridge area
  • For council officers to share issues raised by residents with relevant parties and report back responses and/or that appropriate action has been taken
  • To provide information and signposting on planning and growth matters
  • To provide an opportunity for developer/s, residents, community groups, elected members and council officers to engage with each other
  • From time to time, to provide opportunities for residents to be consulted and involved in the planning, co-design and management of associated facilities and services
  • The forum does not have decision-making powers and cannot be held accountable for growth and related issues
  • Minor developments may be covered by this forum from time to time, but the developments listed above will take priority


Structure, management and format

  • The forum will have alternating facilitators representing South Cambridge District Council and Cambridge City Council
  • There will be a maximum of 4 ‘open to all’ formal meetings a year, where appropriate, and other forms of engagement where necessary
  • Venues, where appropriate, will be spread around the different catchment area/s for the new development(s) to ensure all residents have an opportunity to attend
  • The frequency and format of individual meetings will be determined by senior Planning and Communities officers in consultation with the Chair based on the progress of each specific development
  • Meeting dates will be set, wherever possible, on a rolling basis a year in advance
  • Where development sites straddle Local Authority boundaries, the tasks of organising and chairing the events will be shared between South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council (‘shared forums’)
  • A range of methods will be used to deliver the forum. The most appropriate format will be chosen for the meeting in consultation with attendees and in accordance with the circumstances and government guidance available at the time, that is to say in person forums (which will include drop-ins), virtual meetings or a hybrid of these. For virtual meetings Zoom Webinar will be used


Communication and publicity

  • A range of measures will be used to communicate to residents about the forums, including local advertising via flyers, web page, existing parish publications, email and social media
  • For shared forums, online content will be available on both South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council’s websites
  • Where possible and practicable, officers at each Council will upload content within 10 days
  • A rolling agenda will be posted online so residents are aware of proposed future topics for discussion
  • Questions will be posted online so that attendees can see the issues that have been raised and addressed at past meetings
  • Presentations, notes and recordings of the meetings will be published online
  • A distribution list will be developed and maintained based on registered forum attendees and any others wishing to be kept informed
  • A registration form will be available on the relevant forum’s web page/s
  • Surveys and feedback mechanisms will be employed from time to time to ensure forums are meeting residents’ needs and to facilitate continuous improvement
  • Agendas will be published no later than 7 days prior to the meeting


Lead Officers

Ryan Coetsee - Development Officer (North), South Cambridgeshire District Council
Julian Adams - Growth Project Officer, Cambridge City Council

Valuing diversity

All delegates attending Forum events must undertake to:

  • Treat all people with respect and act in a way which does not discriminate against or exclude anyone
  • Act in a fair and responsible way to all

Collective responsibility 

All people coming to Forum events agree by their presence that they will:

  • Observe the authority of the Chair or facilitator at all times
  • Listen quietly to and respect the views and experiences of other people contributing
  • Agree to and follow the standard of behaviour expected at each event, according to what is happening at that event (e.g. no interrupting or shouting)
  • Allow others to have equal opportunity and time to share their opinions
  • Not use inflammatory language or behaviour of any kind

If the above values are not met during a meeting or event, the Chair, facilitator or nominated officer may take one or more of the following steps with the objective of restoring order.

Any person making offensive, insulting, threatening, provocative, slanderous or obscene remarks, or who becomes boisterous, or who threatens or harasses any person or property while at a Forum event, will cause the event to be suspended for the shortest period needed to allow order to be restored.

Any person or people causing an event to be interrupted by reason of behaviours identified above, who does so more than once, can be asked to leave the event by the Chair or staff at the event. This can be for a specific length of time to allow the person or people to cool off or for the rest of the meeting or event, depending on the judgement of the Chair or staff present.

Where the Chair believes that:

  • The event has become unmanageable, unnecessarily interrupted, harassed or hindered more than once by the same person or people
  • There has been behaviour which threatens the safety of him or herself or others present, the Chair may opt to suspend the meeting or event until order is restored or to end the meeting, or event, if they feel that it is appropriate
  • Any person or persons causing through their behaviour, any other individual or individuals present at a Forum event to fear for their personal safety may be subject to immediate removal from the event and/or the event premises

Previous meetings 

Q&A and recordings will be uploaded within 2 weeks following each event. Presentations are available on request using the contact email below.

For those with accessibility needs, YouTube has a "captions" feature that can be enabled when the embedded videos are watched on their platform.

Where: Virtual Meeting - Zoom

Attendance: Approximately 35

Welcome - Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins

 CCC relocation of Operational Hub – Will Nicholls (Cambridge City Council) and Q&A

 

Brookgate application - Fiona Bradley (Greater Cambridge Planning Service) and Q&A

Merlin Place development – Ian Fleetwood (Cambridge HOK for Kadans) and Q&A 

Core site up-date – Frances Wright (TOWN developers) and Q&A

General Q&A's and meeting close

Unanswered Questions:

Cambridge City Council Operational Hub

How wide is the wildlife/recreational corridor around the first public drain?

At present there are no firm plans for the future management and buffer landscape associated with the first drain.

I see trees on both sides of the drain - will there be public access on both sides?

There will be a linear park on the NEC side of the first public drain, but this is only indicative with no further detail at present. As to the Operational hub side, we are working on providing biodiversity net gain with trees and landscaping as very important components. There wouldn’t be public access onto the operational hub site (other than visiting Officers or staff as pre-arranged) as it is a working depot. 

Area Action Plan

Given that the adopted local plan has a policy on formal open space per every 1000 new residents, where will the sports pitches be for the Northeast Cambridge Area Action Plan area?

The Shared Planning Service is undertaking further work as part of the new Greater Cambridge Local Plan to identify the requirements for new or enhanced formal open space provision to meet existing and future development needs, including the development planned for Northeast Cambridge. This work will include identifying suitable locations for provision and the triggers/timescales for delivery and will extend to matters such as improvements to access.

There is no space provision for a future road bridge across the railway within the current Core Area or Outline Planning for the sidings north of the Station. The reason given was the aim of not increasing vehicle traffic through the NECAAP area. Is this correct?

Provision is to be made for a foot/cycle bridge over the railway north of the aggregates plant. This is to provide a sustainable connection between the river corridor and Northeast Cambridge and vice versa. There is no road bridge planned because the provision of additional through traffic would be at odds with the vision and objectives for NEC to be a low vehicle neighbourhood where walking and cycling are prioritised. 

The potential for a district heating/cooling system had been looked at earlier and rejected. Could a link or reference to that report be made available?

Paragraph 4.2.4 of the NEC Site Wide Energy and Infrastructure Study and Energy Masterplan provides the assessment of the feasibility of a district heating network for Northeast Cambridge.

What provision has been made for the workers and visitors to the new proposed water treatment plant to cycle to work? I see a big junction but no cycle paths. I see a road reclassification for more traffic but not cycle priority. I don’t see cycle connectivity from both sides of the plant or a connection between the villages of Horning Sea and Stow Cum Quay via cycle as a possible upside?

We have passed on these particular points to the Council’s planning case officer who is leading on our response to the Development Consent Order to ensure sustainable travel to and from the new waste water treatment facility by workers and visitors is raised and considered as part of the assessment process.

Transport

Without closing the level crossing, will it be possible to have a rail shuttle service between north and south Cambridge?

The implementation of a north-south shuttle service would increase traffic on the line and thus would certainly increase the 'down time' at the crossing. However, whether this would be considered unacceptable would depend on the frequency of the shuttle service. This would be investigated by Network Rail as part of any feasibility study into such a service.

Will Network Rail help with the cost of any bridges?

The pedestrian and cycle bridge proposed as part of the North-East Cambridge Infrastructure delivery is anticipated to be developer funded. Currently there are no other planned bridges over the railway as part of this development. However, if it were deemed to be appropriate to close the Fen Road level crossing in the future to assist in delivering a rail service between Cambridge North and South, and alternative road bridge would be likely to fall to Network Rail to fully fund.

For those with accessibility needs, YouTube has a "captions" feature that can be enabled when the embedded videos are watched on their platform.

Where: Virtual meeting - Zoom

Attendance: Approximately 50

Welcome - Stephen Kelly, Director of Planning and Economic Development, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning

Terry De Sousa - Principal Policy Planner, and Caroline Hunt - Strategy and Economy Manager, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning

Question and Answer session

 

Karen Staples - Stakeholder Lead, Anglian Water and Fiona Bryant -Strategic Director, Cambridge City Council

 

Close - Stephen Kelly, Director of Planning and Economic Development, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning

Summarised questions from the Q&A

AAP – Planning

Are other sites considered for NECAAP if CWWTPR is not approved? If so, which areas are they?

The Councils set out the process undertaken to consider different spatial strategy options and potential site options in the Strategy Topic Paper. The Councils have considered over 600 sites as part of the Greater Cambridge Local Plan process. These have been assessed and published within the Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) (2021). Both documents can be found in the GCSP document library as part of the evidence base supporting the Greater Cambridge Local Plan. Both these would be reviewed to identify the most appropriate alternative(s) to replace the 3,900 dwellings anticipated at NEC in the plan period to 2041 if the CWWTPR is not approved.

Have recent changes in needs from potential homeowners changed the plan? People have wanted more green space and generally lower density housing since the COVID pandemic.

The draft Area Action Plan was consulted on between the initial national lock downs and therefore COVID was a common theme found within the public responses. As a result of the feedback and updated evidence studies, the AAP area now includes more open space on-site, in particular informal and children’s play spaces, which offer the widest health and well-being benefits to the broadest people living and working within this area. The housing densities have also reduced across the AAP area as has the amount of commercial floor space being proposed.

Has the potential dependency on the surrounding infrastructure meant that that infrastructure has to be updated first? Existing facilities in surrounding area is arguably already insufficient. Shortfall will not be covered by neighbouring communities easily. Example: Milton country park is barely coping with capacity now.

The draft Area Action Plan identifies the infrastructure needs of the proposed development and requires that appropriate provision is made to meet those needs, some of which will be off site. As part of the wider Greater Cambridge Local Plan process, existing infrastructure will be looked at to determine whether there is a need and opportunity to improve it as part of development proposals, including NEC, which could also help to meet the needs of existing local communities. Development at Northeast Cambridge will be phased over several decades and therefore new and/or enhanced off-site infrastructure will need to be linked to the phasing of development.

What new cycle connections are you considering to cross the river?

The Spatial Framework for Northeast Cambridge is not proposing any further river crossings as the area is now served by the Chisholm Trail Bridge. Nevertheless, new connections towards the River Cam, including a new foot and cycle bridge over the railway is planned to improve connectivity and access to open spaces beyond the AAP boundary.

You talk about work rounds for the time the barriers are down at Chesterton Fen, what are you considering? Could these be relevant to Waterbeach where the crossing is to have full barriers?

The councils are seeking to engage further with Network Rail on the Fen Road Level Crossing, which we already know is a key local issue for those living and working in this area. As part of this engagement, we would like to explore with Network Rail what could be done to improve access, including whether it is possible to update the existing crossing or provide an alternative road option. At this stage, we believe all options should be carefully considered and are keen to assist Network Rail with this piece work alongside other partners including Cambridgeshire County Council and the Combined Authority.

How much of the requirement for new housing across Greater Cambridge and Cambridgeshire is being covered by NECAAP. How does it compare to other developments like Waterbeach New Town?

Over the Local Plan period (up to 2041), we propose to allocate new sites for around 11,600 homes to meet our housing needs in full. Northeast Cambridge is anticipated to contribute around 4,000 new homes towards this total, with any homes being completed after 2041 contributing towards longer term housing needs. There is already land identified to provide 37,200 homes in the adopted 2018 Local Plans and in planning permissions. This includes around 5,600 homes at Northstowe and 4,600 homes at Waterbeach new town.

Why so little support for Green Belt when so much discussion about doubling nature?

The proposal by Anglian Water to relocate the WWTP will be required to demonstrate that it meets the Green Belt tests set out in both national and local planning policy. This will be considered by an independent inspector as part of the separate Development Consent Order (DCO) process. As part of the DCO examination, the inspector will also consider other matters including the impact of the relocation on local habitats and species and whether the proposal including the necessary mitigation measures where required. The Councils have acknowledged that the relocation of the WWTP would unlock a brownfield urban site that our evidence shows is a very sustainable location for development.

Do you know to what extent new homes built near Cambridge Station were used pre-pandemic for people who commuted out of GCP area to work? What % of new residents do you expect to commute out of GCP area from the NECAAP area. In previous webinars I think you did not have the information.

This information is not held by the planning authority. In terms of commuting patterns of future residents, we don't know for sure but anticipate that some people will work outside of the Greater Cambridge area and they will be able to commute by public transport and, where necessary, private vehicle. However, by placing homes close to jobs, both within NEC and other local employment areas like the City Centre, we should be able to achieve a higher proportion of people working locally than typical residential schemes.

This location seems to lean heavily on Milton for sports facilities, Tesco, green space (inc playgrounds) and parking. Yet the site appears to be chosen to wholly fit within Cambridge. How is money from this development going to be allocated to Milton PC to support the additional needs that are going to be caused by this development.

The proposals for Northeast Cambridge will ensure that retail, including food shopping, and children’s play spaces will be provided on-site, within a five minute walk of new homes. Similarly, the new development will provide car storage areas for people to park vehicles. To prevent parking displacement occurring in surrounding areas, this will be carefully monitored as development comes forward and parking controls will be introduced where necessary.

As part of the Greater Cambridge Local Plan, more work will be undertaken to identify the most suitable locations for any off-site sports facilities needed to support the development. At this stage, the NEC Open Space Topic Paper identifies that these facilities could come forward in both the city and in Milton provided they are within an easy walking and cycling distance from the new homes at NEC. Where new facilities provided outside of the AAP area are expected to help meet the needs of the NEC development, it would be expected that financial contributions would be secured from the development as part of the planning application process, whether they lie within Cambridge or South Cambridgeshire.

Is there a reasonable opportunity now to develop and build the Cambridge Lakes?

The previous planning permission for the Cambridge Sports Lakes has now expired as the landowner did not implement the permission. Any new planning application for the Sports Lakes will need to be considered against the adopted planning policies for this area. There may be an opportunity for some developer contributions from Northeast Cambridge to help fund any successful planning application to develop the lakes, however it is too early at this stage to confirm this.

Why haven’t you stood up for the Green Belt and allowed Anglian Water to choose a Green Belt site without robust opposition?

The proposal from Anglian Water to relocate the WWTP to a Green Belt site is not in the gift of the councils to determine. Their proposal will be required, at the planning stage, to demonstrate that it meets the Green Belt tests set out in local and national policy. This approach is no different to any other planning applications for development within the Green Belt, where each one will be considered on their own merits. (See also question 7.)

Is there any update on the discussions with Cambridge Water over adequacy of water supply for NECAAP?

The councils are continuing to engage with Water Resources East and the water companies to ensure that there is adequate supply of water for not only Northeast Cambridge but all the proposed allocations within the emerging Local Plan. We anticipate that the draft Water Resources East Water Management Plan will be published within the next few months.

At the moment how much will an affordable home cost? I appreciate it may change by the time they are built?

How much an affordable home costs depends on the tenure. NEC is proposed to accommodate four different affordable housing tenures – Social Rented; Affordable Rented; Shared Ownership; and First Homes. The cost of Social Rented properties is set by the Government applying a national formula. For Affordable Rented properties, the Greater Cambridge Housing Strategy sets out at Annex 11 that for Cambridge City Council and City fringe sites crossing the border with South Cambridgeshire - the rent for Affordable Rent housing (inclusive of eligible property related service charges) should not exceed 60% of gross median market rent in Cambridge City for that size of property, location type and service provision, or the current Local Housing Allowance rate, whichever is the lower. For Shared Ownership properties, the Help to Buy scheme applies a price cap for Cambridge of £407,400. The cost will depend on the level of equity an owner or occupier is willing or able to afford. An indicative cost example is provided on the City Council’s website: Affordable home ownership - Cambridge City Council. For First Homes, Government policy states these must be discounted by a minimum of 30% against the market value and, after the discount has been applied, the first sale must be at a price no higher than £250,000.

Because the final build out of the development is many years away it is impossible to surmise with any certainty what the exact cost will be.  However for a comparison of costs now, page 14 of the most recent “Cambridge Sub-region Housing Market Bulletin” gives detail across differing types and size of affordable housing in the various local districts in and around Cambridge as well as England as a whole. Although NEC is likely to have a higher than usual density and a prevalence of flatted accommodation, it will still be expected to comply with Local Authorities affordable rent policy [PDF, 0.2MB].

Can we have the date on which you predict there will not be need for a secondary school? Do you anticipate that residents will move when they have children or when they reach year six?

The development population forecasts consider the development needs for Northeast Cambridge, not just now but also in the future. Based on the data provided by the County Council, it is not expected that the development will meet the minimum pupil threshold to build a new on-site secondary school. Therefore, we are proposing that developer contributions are spent improving and/or expanding existing secondary schools in North Cambridge. Additionally, the presentation to the Community Forum showed that, through the new walking and cycling connections planned, pupils will be able to travel to local schools within 10 minutes by cycle from NEC using quieter routes away from Milton Road.

Could you describe the mix of housing proposed for NEC - how many 1 bed, 2 bed flats, houses etc

The AAP is based on the following assumed housing mix: 1 bed flats (32%), 2 bed flats (56%), 3 bed flats (5%), 2 bed houses (2%), 3 bed houses (3%), 4 bed houses (1%)

Why does Milton Country Park need to have a live planning permission in order to benefit from contributions from NEC? Would the Country Park qualify for S106 commuted sums? Also, would there be any contributions available for acoustic fencing between MCP and the A14 too.

The reference at the Forum to which this question related was in response to a question whether the Sports Lakes proposal would be eligible for S106 contributions, where the response was that without the benefit of a live planning permission for the Sports Lakes it could not be demonstrated that the scheme was deliverable. In such circumstances, the authorities could not reasonably require new development within NEC to contribute towards the proposed scheme. However, there is potential for the existing Milton Country Park to be eligible for S106 contributions if there can be shown to be measures at the park that would provide more or enhanced provision that would help to meet the needs of the NEC development. This issue would need to be looked at in a holistic way alongside the other proposals for new green infrastructure in the area as part of the Greater Cambridge Local Plan process (see below). In respect of acoustic fencing, see below.

Milton Country Park is supported by parking charges, this goes away when it’s all made walkable and overwhelmed by locals. I agree with the concept that is a "good thing" to reduce/remove car trips, but how is it going to be funded?

The AAP will help to improve accessibility to new and existing open spaces for residents including the River Cam, the existing meadows and other local spaces. The emerging Greater Cambridge Local Plan is also proposing a range of large areas of new green infrastructure around the area, recognising the importance of new green spaces to be provided as well as new development, including one to the north of Cambridge. As we prepare the draft Local Plan we will be exploring the wider needs for strategic green infrastructure in the Greater Cambridge area and how new provision can help to widen the choice of areas for people to visit and have the potential to change the catchment areas of places like Milton Country Park and help manage recreational pressures.

How will you mitigate against noise and pollution of A14 which is in very close proximity to the densest development?

The AAP requires all forms of environmental pollution to be mitigated to ensure people have good private and public amenity. Following studies, we are proposing a noise barrier be erected alongside the A14 to reduce the noise of the road to acceptable and industry recognised levels. Air pollution from the A14 affects only the immediate adjacent area and will be mitigated through retention of the tree belt and an adequate buffer zone. Residential development near the A14 is likely to be in the latter phases of the Plan and will therefore also benefit from the transitions to electric vehicles as proposed by the Government.

How many car parking spaces will be provided per household?

A maximum of 0.5 spaces per home where, expect blue badge spaces, spaces will be provided within Car Barns which are off-plot and multi-storey.

The answer regarding the sustainability of NEC covered only transport. How is this the most sustainable brownfield site when to use it involves the extraordinary carbon footprint of demolishing a recently upgraded WWTP with over 30 years of expected operational life, and destroying a greenbelt site larger than Wembley? What factors other than transport have been taken into account in considering the sustainability of this site?

The answer provided at the Forum was clear that it referred to the locational merits of the NEC site in planning terms for development of jobs and homes and that NEC came out in our evidence as the most sustainable location in terms of reducing the need to travel by private car, which is the greatest source of carbon emissions. The AAP is also predicated on the relocation of the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) taking place. That said, the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) supporting the Proposed Submission AAP considers the cumulative effects of the Plan in combination with other plans and projects, including the relocation of the WWTP, to the extent appropriate for the stage of the project at the time of the assessment. The SA will be kept under review as the AAP and the Development Consent Order processes move forward, to consider any new information. The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that it expects the DCO process for the new WWTP to include an assessment of the cumulative impacts of the proposal for the new works together with the effects of waste generated from demolition activities at the existing sewage works. This will include an assessment of cumulative carbon impacts.

How many dwellings per hectare (dph) is this development going to be?

Between 70 on the edges and 300 in the District Centre. Overall, the average will be around 100 dph so comparable with other areas within Cambridge.

With regards to providing homes close to jobs, wouldn't building residential properties on a green belt site near Cambridge be just as suitable? Is putting industry on green belt really preferable over putting residential on green belt?

The NEC AAP is being prepared to guide future development in this area if the waste water treatment plant is relocated off-site. Neither the AAP or the emerging Local Plan require the existing plant to relocate, but the councils are preparing the plans to ensure that development is comprehensive and coordinated if relocation does take place. In some respects, this is similar to work that is being undertaken on Cambridge Airport, where the landowner is seeking to relocate elsewhere, and the councils are planning for the future of the site if that takes place. Releasing land for development within the Green Belt through the Local Plan is not something that the councils do lightly, and there are strict national policy tests that the councils would need to demonstrate in order to facilitate this. Our evidence supporting the emerging Greater Cambridge Local Plan concluded that alternatives to the preferred option would either distribute development to less sustainable locations that are distant from Cambridge or without the benefit of very high quality public transport (existing or proposed) that would generate greater car use contrary to our climate change theme, or would require the release of large areas of Green Belt on the edge of Cambridge which would cause significant harm to the purposes of the Cambridge Green Belt.

As you are aware, I am uncomfortable about the inadequacy of sport facilities; they don't currently meet the need for 16,000 new residents let alone help address inequality of health outcomes in surrounding areas. A £1m investment for surrounding area sounds promising, but land availability is always a challenge in Cambridge (hence this proposal). Meanwhile current formal open space provision is less than 10% than local plan requirements; how can Councillors put this right?

The AAP is clear that the standards for all forms of open space must be met in full whether that is on-site or via development contributions to be provided off-site. The Plan sets out the minimum amount of formal sports provision which should be delivered on-site as development comes forward. Through the emerging Local Plan, we will be undertaking work to better understand the sports, open space and well-being needs of existing and new communities, both now and in the future. This will enable us to be able to provide some further certainty around off-site sports provision around Northeast Cambridge and how best future developer contributions can be spent. We are aware of local deprivation in this part of the city and have prepared an Anti-Poverty Topic Paper to inform the AAP to ensure that the benefits of regeneration are spread more widely.

Wouldn’t it have been appropriate to indicate that whereas the earlier presentation was in relation to the councils’ role as a planning regulator, Fiona is speaking from the city council as a landowner and joint developer which needs to get its plans approved. The council is wearing two hats and needs to be open about that.

The presentation on the joint Proposed Submission North East Cambridge Area Action Plan was delivered by the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service on behalf of the two Councils as local planning authorities. Following this, Fiona Bryant, Director of Enterprise and Sustainable Development for Cambridge City Council, then delivered an update on the Core Site, which is a part of the AAP area being delivered between Cambridge City Council and Anglian Water as landowners. The City Council as local planning authority, as represented via the shared planning service, and the corporate side of the City Council as a landowner/developer are two separate parts of the council acting independently in respect of NEC.

(Live question from Antony C not answered live about potential to use Milton Road car garages for a new swimming pool).

In order to ensure that the council has prepared a ‘sound’ Area Action Plan, we have to consider the three tests of soundness as set out by national planning policy and guidance. This includes whether the site is available for development, that there is a reasonable prospect that the particular type of development will be delivered on the site at a particular point in time, and whether the development is achievable including financially viable. Based on engagement with the landowner for this particular site, it is not likely that they will bring forward a new swimming pool on the site during the plan period or beyond. Therefore, without an acquisition of the site, potentially through the councils using their CPO powers, the AAP would be likely to be considered unsound by an independent inspector if it proposed a new swimming pool in this location.

It should also be noted that whilst the AAP doesn’t plan for an on-site swimming pool, a new pool could still be delivered through individual planning applications, provided all other policy requirements were met.

 

Anglian Water

The Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) is moving into a large green space. This seems counterproductive. Honey hill is right there. Why move at all?

The Cambridge WWTP relocation project will create approx. 72 hectares of new habitats, including species-rich grassland, woodland, and hedgerows. The project will achieve a minimum of 20% Biodiversity Net Gain within the area. The new habitats will complement the proposed Cambridge Nature Network, providing a new component and potential extension to the steppingstones, corridors and core areas described in that vision. The Project therefore has the potential to contribute towards a functioning ecological network.

The National Trust identified the land from Honey Hill northwards to be a green strip up to Wicken Fen. Honey Hill is already used by residents of Cambridge and around for recreation relieving pressure on Milton Country Park. This area was heavily used in lockdown and discovered by residents. Why are you not pressing for this area to be retained, and why did you not take a strong view with Anglian Water to say that these green lungs on the edge of Cambridge must be avoided? Surely this is a key part of long-term planning and leaving Honey Hill undeveloped and green is vital for Cambridge’s wellbeing.

As above, the project will be creating green infrastructure and providing an improvement in access to green spaces. The design creates quiet places for both people and nature. The project’s paths will be connected to the wider network of public rights of way, and a new bridleway will improve access to Quy Fen and Anglesey Abbey.

Will the new water treatment plant have to discharge storm water/untreated effluent into the Cam?

Storm overflows play a vital role in our combined wastewater network systems as they work like pressure release valves to protect homes and businesses from flooding during periods of extreme rainfall. The Environment Agency (EA) issues permits for our storm overflows. The new facility will provide greater resilience and improved storm management, meaning storm overflows and Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) are far less likely to occur. This means that, as Greater Cambridge continues to grow, the facility will be able to treat a greater volume of storm flows to a higher standard than would be the case at today’s facility. 

Will there be public meetings/exhibitions? Is there a list of dates and venues available?

Details for the upcoming consultation can be found on our website once available.

Update

North East Cambridge Area Action Plan

Significant revisions have been made to the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan in response to the thousands of comments received in the Draft Plan consultation last year. The Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service have published the Proposed Submission version of the Plan for scrutiny by councillors through the committee processes of both Councils. The documents are now live and can be found on the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan webpage.

This version is intended to be submitted to the Secretary of State for examination by the independent Planning Inspectorate. Once Councillors have reviewed and commented on the Area Action Plan, they will decide whether to approve it for public consultation ahead of submission to the Secretary of State.

However, the Councils are clear that the Plan will only be able to progress to public consultation after the separate Development Consent Order process for the relocation of the Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant has concluded. This is because the Area Action Plan is being prepared on the basis that the existing Waste Water Treatment Plant will be relocated off-site, which will enable this new district to come forward, and the Development Consent Order is an important part of showing that our plan can be delivered.

Core Site

U+I and TOWN, the developers responsible for master planning the Core Site in partnership with Cambridge City Council and Anglian Water, have undertaken a number of initial meetings with local stakeholders and community organisations over the last six months, as part of their early engagement around the project. The purpose of these meetings has been to introduce the Core Site and the team behind it, to set out the project vision and values, and to gain a preliminary understanding of local perspectives.

This process of engagement and dialogue will continue and expand in early 2022, with the publication of a project website, and a community launch event on 26 February. This will give members of the community the opportunity to meet the project team, explore the vision for Core Site, and help shape plans for the project at a very early stage in development.

Anglian Water

  • Phase 2 Consultation (CON2) took place between 23 June and 18 August 2021, the purpose being to help shape and develop Anglian Water's vision for the relocation project.

  • Anglian Water has been analysing the feedback from CON2 from community stakeholders, technical stakeholders and statutory stakeholders​ and these responses are being evaluated alongside a range of other criteria to further develop the design.​

  • Anglian Water submitted a Scoping Report to PINS (Governments Planning Inspectorate) in early November and the Scoping Report was in consultation until 18 November 2021​. The Planning Inspectorate response is expected by the end of 2021.

  • Anglian Water has published its CON2 Summary Report which reports back on how the design has evolved following the CON2 Stakeholder Feedback.

  • During summer and autumn 2021, the design and mitigations evolved based on CON2 responses and continued engagement with stakeholders through technical working group meetings and bilaterals.

  • Strategic stakeholder engagement continues ahead of the final phase of consultation in early spring 2022.

  • Phase Three Consultation will be published early spring 2022 and will include the Preliminary Environmental Report together with detailed design and mitigation proposals.

For those with accessibility needs, YouTube has a "captions" feature that can be enabled when the embedded videos are watched on their platform.

Where: Virtual meeting - Zoom

Attendance: Approximately 30 people

Additional feedback: Following the Forum on 7 July, we did not get a very large cross-section of responses on our survey so we are running this again here and will send out the survey to our contact list. Please do complete this survey and help us to shape future Community Forums.

Note: For those with accessibility needs, YouTube has a "captions" feature that can be enabled when the embedded videos are watched on their platform.

Questions from the meeting follow after the video.

Timestamps of presentations and Q&A:

Scroll for more
Presenter Timestamp

Hana Loftus - Planning Policy, Greater Cambridge Planning

4:32

Matthew Paterson - Planning Policy, Greater Cambridge Planning

08:59

Fiona Bryant - Strategic Director, Cambridge City Council

39:10

Karen Barclay - Head of Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant Relocation Programme, Anglian Water

1:00:32

General Q&A

1:15:36

Answered questions

I saw from your slides that Belsar's Hill Fort was one of the inspirations for new STP. How far are you planning to make the plant a visual feature in the landscape using this historical theme, and how much are you hoping to use the banks to hide the plant as something to be concealed?

The design for the new Cambridge Waste Water Treatment plant is driven from a landscape-led approach. The design takes its inspiration from the local Fen-edge character, both past and present of local hill forts such as Fleam Dyke and Devil’s Dyke and circular Iron Age hill forts such as Wandlebury Ring and Belsar’s Hill

Our design proposals will support and, over time, enhance the natural environment and make a positive contribution to the local landscape and ecology beyond the facility’s boundary.

The 22-hectare plant, enveloped within a high circular earthwork bank, will be a visible feature and will also blend in as it matures, both screening the facility and creating new habitat for wildlife.

It will effectively screen all but the tallest elements of the facility from all directions. Further screening will come through additional tree and grassland planting within a site area around 94 hectares. The area surrounding the facility’s boundary is being designed to support and complement local projects and goals such as Wicken Fen vision and Cambridge Nature Networks.

We are hoping our proposals stimulate dialogue and feedback and you can provide that during our second phase of consultation, closing on 18 August.

Where are you planning to 'find' additional green open space?

We are reducing the amount of new commercial floorspace, which helps address the balance of land uses across the NEC area and also releases land for additional open space provision.

Who are your leads for the needs/requirements/opportunities for arts/leisure/music? The number of homes planned *plus* those immediately bordering the site more than justifies something that serves the northern half of Cambridge. (Have you invited someone from The Junction? Or other successful places such as the Komedia in Brighton?

LDA Design were commissioned to prepare the Cultural Placemaking Strategy [PDF] for NEC. Michelle Lord, Senior Arts Development Officer was one of the officer leads assisting the consultants. With respect to The Junction, the strategy references the renewal of the facilities at this venue and proposes the AAP puts an emphasis on studio, individual, and collective arts development, to compliment not duplicate the Junction’s provision. It also draws on the recent studies by CCC, which show that demand for a large-scale venue does not currently exist, but scope for a moderate scale venue does (an approximate capacity of up to 300 people).  The Strategy therefore proposes provision of a community facility, similar to Eddington’s Storey’s Field Centre, that is capable of hosting regular music, performing arts, theatre and drama use.

Will this development trigger a better / more comprehensive remodelling of the Milton A10/A14 junction ... Are you aware of the real problems with the current lane markings and road widths?

Whilst the Combined Authority is working on a strategic solution for the A10 corridor solution as a whole, the Transport Evidence base for the NEC [PDF] is not dependent on the delivery of major highway works. Only minor changes would be required to the site accesses on Milton Road to accommodate the impacts of redistributed highway traffic.

The trip budget approach is predicated on not loading the highway network with any more vehicular trips, and instead providing a comprehensive package of sustainable connectivity, as set out in the evidence base.

The Combined Authority will determine the most appropriate long term provision for the A10 corridor and associate junctions, but the approach to planning the NEC is based wholly on removing the need to exceed current vehicle movements, through a transformational infrastructure package, and a development mix and design that gives rise to a high level of internalisation (trips that occur exclusively within the AAP boundary).

For those with accessibility needs, YouTube has a "captions" feature that can be enabled when the embedded videos are watched on their platform.

Where: Virtual meeting - Zoom

Attendance: Approximately 120 people

Note: For those with accessibility needs, please be reminded that YouTube has a "captions" feature that can be enabled when the embedded videos are watched on their platform.

Questions from the meeting follow after the videos.

Welcome - Debbie Kaye, Head of Community Services, Cambridge City Council

Stephen Kelly - Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning

Hana Loftus - Engagement and Communications Lead, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning

Fiona Bryant - Strategic Director, Cambridge City Council

Karen Barclay - Head of Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant Relocation Programme

Sally Roden - Neighbourhood Community Development Manager, Cambridge City Council

Live Q&A and Close

Summarised questions from the Q&A

Please note - There were over 70 questions posted on the night as well as via email. We have not published each question but looked to group answers into categories where there were duplicates.

What is an AAP?

AAP stands for "Area Action Plan" and is a form of planning framework that sets out what can be developed, where it can be developed and how it can be developed in each geographical area. It has equivalent weight to the Local Plan and therefore has a very significant role to play, with all the planning applications that come forward having to demonstrate that they are in conformity with the planning policies in the AAP.

Why were so many trees cut down near the railway station when the area is designated as low land ecological mitigation for the Cambridge North development?

The Local Authority is aware that surveys have been undertaken to look for amphibians and bats, but planning permission was not needed to remove those trees. Any breach of a planning condition for the work undertaken on Network Rail land will be looked in to. We are conscious of the concerns that have been raised and we are looking into that.

Anglian Water have stated there is no current operational need to move existing water treatment plant. At a time of economic crisis and without the need post Covid for office and retail space. Is the £227 million of government grant justified?

The question about whether that is a good use of money is for the government to decide. In terms of the economic regeneration opportunity that it unlocks and the homes and the jobs that the project will bring, especially in a post Covid environment, it is projects such as this that are going to play a really important role, economically, in terms of helping us recover from this pandemic.

There's room to update the plant on site, we should be improving the water treatment, so the effluent is safe to put back in the river. We could get water for use from it and so would the cost of improving the existing site be less than moving it?

The government have given this funding to accelerate homes in an area of high demand and I think if we did consolidate on the site, and that was technically feasible, then obviously the opportunity and the business case for funding just would not add up. Also, from a perspective of feasibility, because there is not an operational need to move, Anglian Water are not funded for from our usual regulatory routes to be able to consolidate on site. Therefore, ultimately, I think the project would fall away in its entirety.

Will a large new community arts centre, at least the size of the Junction, in Cambridge be built and one that makes up for the shortage of facilities for teenagers?

There is an emerging cultural and creative strategy requirement across the area and that sort of, cultural and creative space, on the core site and across the AAP area, will be highlighting the emerging needs via the strategy. Some of the work, at this stage of the process is to identify what the community infrastructure requirements may well be. This includes the educational requirements and the expectation that the education investment to support the communities, includes those multi community access agreements to make the very best use of the new spaces that are created. As elements of the plan are refined, such as the housing mix, there will become greater clarity in terms of delivery of some forms of community infrastructure because that process is obviously relatively fluid in some areas including education. We would expect to be able to identify more clearly what the requirements are associated with each phase and each specific project within the area action plan. The objective and ambition is to create a place in which people can enjoy and live vibrant lives and inclusive lives with all the amenities that you expect from living in a city like Cambridge. It is important to understand what can be delivered on this site what the surrounding community infrastructure and facilities can also provide and how they can link together to the city centre and outwards into the countryside.

The redevelopment of Milton Rd is a key dependency for the NEC AAP the start of the work on this is now planned to start in April 21 rather than September 20. We are concerned that this delay will leave the road in its current dreadful state and if there are funding issues it may not happen. Is the NEC project doing anything to get the work started by the original start date?

The progress on the Milton Rd scheme is something the County Council are keen to drive forward as quickly as possible. From a transport perspective we do recognise that to harness the growth of this area we really need to create a significant behavioural shift which is about connecting the site with attractive public transport links, allowing excellent permutation through the area, crossing of the A10 and walking and cycling connections to the surrounding area. The evidence-base sets that out that in terms of what would need to be provided and with a view to subsequently delivering that in advance of the development. There is a need to balance the current situation but also anticipate needs well into the future and the aim is to get to net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 is when the government has committed to achieving net zero. There is also a need to start to look at things such as electric cars and mobility as a service, maybe not owning a car but renting a car when needed using a car club. The use and charging of electric vehicles is also an important factor for the plans.

Active transport is fine for young able bodied how will provision be made for the less able and elderly who cannot walk far and certainly would find cycling a high-risk activity. We have many blue badge holders who cannot walk more than 100 metres from the car without assistance. How will the affected area be accessible to wheelchair users?

Whilst the approach is about reducing the number of car trips in and around the area, it is not about prohibiting the car altogether it is about making the car, perhaps, not the most attractive option for everybody because they will have a much safer and more accessible network of other alternatives. Blue badge parking would be provided on street so if you have specific needs that is a different matter which would be accommodated, it is just trying to reduce the number of cars that are outside on the street and therefore making active and sustainable travel the easiest and most natural choice.  The aim is also at making life easier, so last mile delivery and hubs where residential deliveries can be collected or delivered to homes by different means which do not involve motorised traffic.

Could you clarify how the open space provision for North East Cambridge, as set out in section 5.3 of the draught area action plan, meets the Cambridge local plan requirements.

Open space is one of the key things brought up during the consultation. The adopted Cambridge City Local Plan standard is 2.2 hectares per thousand people, but that is just for informal open space. There's also children's play provision and allotments and food growing areas as well.  Work is underway to maximise the potential to provide this within buildings and blocks as well, so residents’ courtyards and rooftop gardens will be a consideration. The aim is for real quality, multi-functional, spaces that can be used throughout the year for a range of activities, or different sports, and spaces that are multi-generational.   The spaces should not just be for those who are fit and healthy but can cater for a full range of ability and ages. There are a range of open spaces existing within the AAP area that ought to be taken into consideration and enhanced.

Taken from your terms of reference "This forum has no decision-making influence" "The forum will not consider non growth-related issues" "It does not have decision making powers" If people have concerns? About growth and density, growth and not enough water? Clean river and sewage, biodiversity and amount of green space?

This, and the other growth community forums, are intended not to duplicate or cut across existing democratic processes e.g., Area Committees, Parish Council meetings and Council Committee meetings. Instead, they aim to engender a wider and less formal interaction and when held in community settings, have included a period before the presentations whereby all attending can mingle and ask questions of representatives (developers, Councillors, Council officers etc) in front of displays and maps.

As most businesses seem to be assuming that staff will continue to work more from home and commute less, it's likely less people will need to move into the South East area. The huge demand for housing would therefore be reduced. I am concerned that housing will be too expensive for the ordinary people of Cambridge. Are you confident of need and the prohibitive cost to live here?

The Planning Authority and developers are working really closely with the housing teams for Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire Councils, so that we understand the need as it exists at this moment in time but also the projected need for future years. There are a range of views about whether there is a continued housing need for the area post Covid.  In those areas and those sectors where we know that Cambridge has been really successful, we're also looking at trying to understand what the need is in those sectors so that if the area continues to grow we can identify and provide the right housing solution for those people so that they don't add to the pressure on existing homes and housing supply for local people.  It is also imperative that we don't end up with a mismatch of the wrong types of homes that either remain empty or get disposed of for buy-to-let which don't contribute positively to the place and the communities which lead to patterns of commuting that adds to the carbon footprint and leads to the erosion of our objectives around net zero carbon.

Has consideration being given to the reliability of a pumping sewage uphill. I understand the proposed new site is uphill.

In the site that we have chosen, it is quite favourable from the gravity perspective and in reality would require less pumping, but obviously the network in the catchment that we serve at the moment has varying degrees of where gravity helps us or not.  The original site that was chosen, for the existing site now, means that the additional run-off flows coming gravity fed and one of the advantages of the site that we have selected is that gravity will be a friend in that. Of course, it is a large catchment area that the existing site in the new facility would serve and there is a degree of pumping that's required to make sure that the flow reached the plant efficiently and also so that they move through the system and through the catchment in a really effective way, because the slower the sewage in the pipes obviously issues around septicity and everything can be created. It is something that we are looking at as well as part of the relocation and its network and how the flows come in. It is imperative that when the flows arrive at the new facility they arrived there as swiftly as possible without any septic issues.

Unanswered questions

Environment

To rely on Milton Country Park for additional 20,000 visitors would destroy the park. This is a chance to re-establish Chesterton Fen with balancing water run-off. What wild space/biodiversity is included in this plan?

The draft Area Action Plan does not rely on Milton Country Park and does include increasing access to Chesterton Fen and other improvements there. You can read more about the proposals that were in the consultation draft of the AAP on the Biodiversity SPD page.

In the light of Anglian Water having published their selected site to move the wastewater treatment works (WtW), when and how will the environmental costs of the development of the North East area be calculated and reviewed by the Planning Team?

The WtW relocation is subject to a separate process. The AAP will not consider the impacts of the relocation of the WtW as part of the AAP process – but assumes that the relocation to another site will take place. The existing local plan does not assume that any of Greater Cambridge’s future housing need is met from this site. As the Councils consider the spatial options available to meet the housing and employment needs identified for the next local plan. 

 

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