News release from 22/05/2020

Plans for new low-carbon, residential and business district in north east Cambridge unveiled

The shared planning service for Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire has published early proposals for a new low-carbon city district near Cambridge North station, including 8,000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs along with shops, restaurants, and community and cultural facilities. The draft proposals are being considered by councillors ahead of full public consultation later in the summer.

Area covered by NEC AAP

The new district will be created on a 180-hectare brownfield site close to the A14 at the Milton Junction, just a 15-minute cycle ride from the city centre. The draft North East Cambridge Area Action Plan – a planning framework that will guide how development is designed and built – is being published after several years’ work with communities and partners by the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service (a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City councils). It incorporates ambitious aspirations for the new area including:

  1. Responding to the climate and biodiversity emergencies:
    • challenging targets are proposed for energy use, water conservation and discouraging car use
    • developers will have to prove they can increase biodiversity (known as a ‘biodiversity net gain’), with biodiverse planting and green corridors for wildlife; and contribute to improvements at nature sites like Milton Country Park and Chesterton Fen
  2. Creating an inclusive, walkable district with proposals:
    • to put walking, cycling and public transport connections at the heart of the layout, and knitting them into surrounding neighbourhoods so existing residents can benefit from everything the new area offers
    • to create new and improved crossings for the A14, Guided Busway, Milton Road and other current barriers to movement, so residents and commuters can walk and cycle across the new district from the villages to the city centre
    • and to provide strict limits on the amount of parking developers can provide, to make sure the overall amount of traffic will not increase
  3. Creating spaces for community with:
    • four new ‘centres’ with shops, community facilities, leisure activities, cafés, restaurants and pubs. These centres are suggested to be around Cambridge North station; on the edge of the Science Park near Cambridge Regional College; near St John’s Innovation Park; and in the middle of the new district
    • mixed-use spaces that would bring people doing different activities together, to create lively places to live and work
    • and very high design standards for the new buildings, streets and outdoor spaces that would create a place the community could be proud of
  4. Meeting the area’s needs for new homes and jobs:
    • the plans suggest the area can accommodate some 8,000 new homes with the aspiration that 40% will be affordable
    • and, with different types of business space proposed, employers offering a range of jobs for local people could locate to the area, providing 20,000 new jobs alongside existing employment opportunities
  5. Ensuring wellbeing:
    • the design and layout should encourage active and healthy lifestyles, with quality open spaces suggested: a linear park, a ‘green high street’, and neighbourhood green spaces
    • a library, community centre and cultural facilities, plus three new primary schools and space for a secondary school if needed in the future, are also proposed
    • addressing existing issues of noise, air pollution, and contaminated land to create a green, safe and healthy environment.

The draft Area Action Plan draws on consultations in 2014 and 2019 and ongoing and detailed studies on everything from biodiversity to noise and transport, in order to ensure the draft plans could be practically achieved over 25 years. The publishing of the draft Area Action Plan for the meeting of the Joint Local Planning Advisory Group on 2 June marks the first stage of review of that work, by councillors. The draft Area Action Plan will be reviewed by additional members of both councils during May and June, before being published for full public consultation in July, so that the councils can hear the views of stakeholders and the community before the Area Action Plan is firmed up for the next stages in the process.

Deputy Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council and Lead Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, said: “We’ll publicise the draft Area Action Plan in July and will want to hear everyone’s views on how we have translated the feedback and research over the past five years into these more specific plans and policies for how the new district should look. This is a really exciting opportunity for us to lead the way and show others how, through planning policy, we can create new districts that prioritise community cohesion and enable a zero-carbon way of life.”

Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces at Cambridge City Council, said: “This new district crosses the administrative boundaries of Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how this ‘border’ district will be able to bring people together. The brownfield site being so close to existing transport links offers a unique chance for us to provide much-needed homes close to where people’s jobs will be, without adding more car traffic; and we’re committed to development that responds to the climate and biodiversity emergencies by including challenging targets on energy use, water conservation and car use right from the outset.”

People can read the draft Area Action Plan on the Council's website. 

Regeneration of the area requires the Anglian Water Cambridge waste water treatment plant to be relocated. The new, relocated facility will continue to provide vital services to Cambridge and the surrounding area in a modern, carbon efficient waste water treatment plant, which will be developed by Anglian Water in collaboration with the community. A site for the new waste water treatment plant has not yet been confirmed but this process will be subject to its own consultation process launching this summer, which will be led by Anglian Water.