Councillors agree to release land to help Biomedical Campus expand

18 November 2016

Councillors have given plans to release land to help the Cambridge Biomedical Campus expand the green light after reviewing new evidence that showed it can be developed without impacting on a nearby nature reserve.

The proposals to allow the site to expand were given the backing by councillors at a meeting of Full Council last night (Thursday 17 November) and the recommendation and evidence will now be submitted to Government inspectors reviewing the Council’s Local Plan.

The decision on whether to release the Green Belt land to help the Biomedical Campus at Addenbrooke’s expand in the future, if needed, follows South Cambridgeshire District Council planners and councillors calling for extra work to be done earlier this year before they could make a final decision on the proposal.

At the meeting councillors heard that extra information submitted by developers, which was assessed by Council experts, had addressed concerns that surface water from the development could affect the springs at the nearby Nine Wells nature reserve.

The new information submitted showed that the springs are fed from the opposite side to the proposed area for development and that water from the planned site also drains away from the springs.

Other concerns from councillors earlier in the year included making sure that the nature reserve was not damaged by an influx of visitors who work at an expanded Biomedical Campus in the future. To address the concerns, policies are suggested to make sure no direct access from the site to the nature reserve is allowed. Green areas could also be created at the Campus for people to enjoy on their lunch breaks.

The land proposed to be released would help the Biomedical Campus at Addenbrooke’s expand by around 10% to the south while still protecting the bulk of the green belt around Cambridge.

Councillors at the meeting also agreed other suggested modifications to the Plan.

These included small revisions to the area that could be developed at the proposed new village at Bourn Airfield. Since the site was suggested, promoters have done additional work and put forward to the Council a number of parcels that could be developed to make best use of the land available.

The extra parcels include land near to the existing employment area within the main body of the Airfield and some around the entrance to the new village and near Highfields Caldecote.

One piece of land put forward by developers was rejected for inclusion in the modified plans. This was a pocket of land near the entrance of the site nearest to Highfields Caldecote.

New evidence on the future accommodation needs of Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople will also be submitted to Government inspectors.

The evidence showed that no new sites are needed. Eleven plots for Travelling Showpeople are needed to meet their needs up to 2031 with the Council suggesting to Government inspectors that existing planning policies remain in place to deal with any applications for new plots in the future.

The Council’s Local Plan includes creating 22,000 new jobs and 19,500 new homes up to 2031. New homes would mainly be at the new town north of Waterbeach, new village at Bourn Airfield and an expansion to Cambourne. These are in addition to homes already being planned or built at Northstowe and on the edge of Cambridge.

Cllr Robert Turner, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “It is good news that we have been able to support releasing land to help the Biomedical Campus expand in the future back if needed. All councillors and our officers challenged if allocating the land was the right option earlier this year as we wanted reassurances that the expansion was viable without harming the nearby springs and nature reserve. There is always a judgement to be made on these decisions but the evidence has been thoroughly checked and I am confident we have policies in place that can make sure the expansion is a positive addition.

“We all know that there is a pressing demand for high quality housing and land available must be used to its full potential. The amendments at Bourn Airfield will give more flexibility to create a better flow and feel for the proposed new village whilst still making sure there is appropriate separation from neighbouring villages. There was good debate at the meeting over a second pocket of land near to Highfields Caldecote that we have agreed to include. Although we have agreed to include it I will take a good look at the exact wording at my December portfolio holder meeting as we want to ensure there is appropriate separation from the neighbouring village.”

To view the reports presented to Council visit:

Summary of main areas homes were proposed in the Local Plan submitted to Government in March 2014:

Larger strategic sites:

  • North of Waterbeach (new town) – 8,000-9,000 homes, 1,400 of which by 2031.
  • Bourn airfield new village – 3,500 homes, 1,700 of which by 2031.
  • Cambourne West – 1,200 homes, all by 2031.

 Edge of Cambridge:

  • Near ARM, Fulbourn Road – a small area of employment land as an extension to Peterhouse Technology Park (along with 2 other small areas in City      Council’s area).
  • Cambridge Northern Fringe East/proposed Cambridge Science Park Station area – redevelopment following joint area action plan being developed (SCDC and City Council).

Cambridge Airport site:

Airport itself not planned for development during the plan period. Held in reserve for possible development after 2031 if it becomes available (SCDC and City Council).

Two parts of the original Cambridge East site coming forward as planned;

  • Marshall’s Wing development north of Newmarket road – 1,200 homes (SCDC), and
  • North of Cherry Hinton for 110 homes

Smaller local sites:

  • A total of around 900 homes proposed to be split over the villages of      Comberton, Gamlingay, Histon & Impington, Melbourn, Sawston and      Willingham

Parish council led proposals:

  • Great and Little Abington Parish Councils: 53 homes on three small sites
  • Graveley Parish Council: six homes on Toseland Road

The sites listed are in addition to the 14,000 homes already committed to in locations such as the edge of Cambridge and the new town of Northstowe.