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News release from: 24/07/2023

Concern over Government announcement to ‘turbocharge’ plans for growth in and around Cambridge

Concern over Government announcement to ‘turbocharge’ plans for growth in and around Cambridge

A Council leader has called on the Government to provide far more information and detail, and work closely with local councils and communities, after they announced plans to rapidly increase housing and commercial growth in and around Cambridge.

In a speech by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, he outlined plans to deliver 1 million new homes nationally, focusing on towns and cities and starting with Cambridge.

The Government’s announcement did not include the specific number of houses they expect to be delivered in and around Cambridge. However, this follows a story in The Sunday Times recently – which the Council had no prior knowledge of – reporting on Government plans to turn Cambridge into Britain’s Silicon Valley by boosting building and adding as many as 250,000 new homes. The Council has said it is vital there is clarity over how many homes the Government is planning for and where they believe they should go. Council leaders will be contacting the Government urgently to make sure local people have this information.

When the emerging Local Plan for Greater Cambridge was published earlier this year – a process that considers how growth is managed into the future – the Council said that those plans could only be delivered if serious concerns over water supply could be addressed.

The Leader of the Council also recently wrote to Ministers Gove and Hunt to call for urgent action to ensure the environment was not adversely impacted and the chalk streams were able to recover. The Council’s own evidence already suggests the need to provide for 50,000 new homes to support 66,000 new jobs anticipated in the area over the next 18 years.

Cllr Bridget Smith, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “The Greater Cambridge area already has identified a need for 50,000 new homes. Our plans for how that need could be met have been prepared following local consultation and we have a robust evidence base to back up what is being suggested.

"When we published those plans earlier this year, we said very clearly that that level of growth could only be delivered if the challenge over water supply could be solved, and the environment, including our vital chalk streams, is enhanced and improved. On the face of it this announcement seems to centre on what we are already planning to deliver in Greater Cambridge hence why we need more information.

Until we have that, we, along with our local communities, will remain concerned. We have tens of thousands of homes already agreed to be built in new towns and villages in this area and we’d much rather the Government worked with big developers, including the Government's own agency Homes England, to incentivise them to build these sites out faster and with a wider range of homes for all to help with the affordability of housing in the area. If this announcement does that then it will be welcomed.

“We will of course be engaging with the Government to understand this more and ensure that local people are represented in these discussions.”