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Agenda item

North East Cambridge Area Action Plan - Draft Plan for Consultation


Matter for Decision

The report introduces the draft Area Action Plan (AAP) being prepared jointly by Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council that presented the Councils’ preferred approach for managing development, regeneration and investment in North East Cambridge (NEC) over the next fifteen years and beyond. It followed public consultation on Issues & Options in February 2019 that sought to elicit views on a wide range of options on how the area might change, the issues and challenges facing the area, and how these might be addressed.


Decision of Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces

i.               Agreed the name of the AAP be formally changed to the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan (NECAAP);

ii.             Agreed the draft North East Cambridge Area Action Plan (Appendix A); the draft North East Cambridge Policies Map (including amended boundary) (Appendix B) and Topic Papers (Appendix C) for a ten-week period of public consultation under Regulation 18 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 and that this consultation also includes the evidence documents (listed in the draft AAP with relevant policy and published on the shared planning service website);

iii.            Agreed the Statement of Consultation (Appendix D) including responses to comments received to the Issues & Options (February 2019); 

iv.           Noted the findings of the updated Joint Equalities Impact Assessment, Draft Sustainability Appraisal, Draft Habitats Regulation Assessment; and Duty to Cooperate Statement (Appendices E, F, G and H respectively); 

v.             Delegated authority to the Cambridge Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces (in consultation with the Chair and Spokes for the Planning and Transport Scrutiny Committee) and the Deputy Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council to agree the further Topic Papers as set out at paragraph 4.17 of the officer’s report ahead of public consultation.

vi.           Delegated authority to the Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development, in liaison with the Cambridge Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces (in consultation with the Chair and Spokes for the Planning Policy and Transport Scrutiny Committee) and the Deputy Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, to make editorial changes to the Draft NEC AAP consultation report (including graphics) and supporting documents (prior to the

commencement of the consultation period) to comprise minor amendments and factual updates and clarifications.

vii.          Noted the update on the Fen Road access issues at paragraphs 4.19 and 4.20 of the officer’s report. 


Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.


Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.


Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Senior Planning Policy Officer, Assistant Director, Special Projects Officer


The Committee made the following comments in response to the report:

      i.         Questioned if the pandemic would delay the work on the NECAAP.

    ii.         Referred to policy 8 which dealt with open space; the member had expected 39 hectares of open space to be provided for a development of this size. Expressed disappointment that the topic paper stated it was unlikely that the full quantum of open space would be provided on site.

   iii.         Questioned the impact of the development on water supply / provision in the city and the surrounding network.

  iv.         Queried how limiting water consumption would be enforced.

    v.         Questioned the response rate to the NECAAP and what arrangements were being put in place for access over the railway line at Fen Road.

  vi.         Noted the AAP stated that 1 building would be built to BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) outstanding standard and asked whether this criterion could be increased.

 vii.         Asked whether the paragraph regarding passive housing could be re-worded.

viii.         Queried if an area within the AAP could be reserved if land was required to resolve the Fen Road / railway access issue. 

  ix.         Referred to policy 13c and noted that housing for local workers was not included within the current City Local Plan and questioned how key workers could be helped.

    x.         Noted some buildings were proposed to have 13 stories and questioned if the ceiling heights were reduced to achieve this building height whether that would provide enough room to accommodate passive housing.

  xi.         Questioned whether people would be able to afford to move to bigger houses in view of the COVID-19 recession.


The Senior Planning Policy Officer, Assistant Director and the Special Projects Officer said the following in response to Members’ questions:

      i.         Officers had consulted with Community Forums to explore whether work on the NECAAP should be delayed; residents said that they would prefer for the work to continue.  Officers adopted a ‘digital first’ approach which had been successfully used during the Local Plan consultations.

    ii.         Exploration of the type of open space which should be provided as part of the development was inconclusive.  Options had been considered like Parkers Piece style open space or more dispersed open space areas. Previous respondents to the consultation had said that they wanted a wide variety of open space provision.  Multifunctional and multi-use open space was therefore being proposed.

   iii.         Was aware of concerns regarding growth and the impact on water supply and water cycle.  An independent Water Survey had been commissioned. Wanted to promote low water consumption on the site and was looking at limiting water usage to 80 litres per person per day. The issue of water consumption was a growth issue and not a geographic issue. The NECAAP set high standards across both residential and non-residential development. For non-residential developments, the plan sought to ensure that development would be built to BREAAM ‘good’ standards.

  iv.         Limiting water consumption would be enforced at source and through metering.  Monitoring requirements on consumption would seek to ensure delivery of this objective.

    v.         The consultation had received more responses than any other AAP the City had done before. People were able to dip in and out of the NECAAP.  Officers wanted to capture as many consultation responses as possible.

  vi.         Discussions were on-going regarding maintenance of the public realm.

 vii.         The plan provides for a bridge over the railway line for pedestrian and cycle access.

viii.         Officers were looking at whether they could increase the number of buildings which would be built to BREEAM outstanding standard.

  ix.         Officers confirmed that they would look at the wording of the passive housing paragraph.

    x.         The Fen Road crossing was a complex but existing issue, which the AAP could not resolve directly. Officer were seeking to engage Network Rail in discussion on options, if Network Rail intended to close the crossing then they would have to fund an alternative route of access.  The cost of resolving the access issue via the North East Cambridge site would be high, both land cost and the physical infrastructure crossing the railway and the rules about planning policy meant that only impacts arising as a result of the plan proposals could be mitigated directly by planning policy requirements. This means resolution of the Fen Road access issue would require a broader approach, working with Network Rail.  

  xi.         Would look at whether housing could be tethered to the new employment space for people on the science and business park. Could look to see whether employers could be encouraged to purchase land to accommodate their staff.

 xii.         Building height assumptions presumed at standard 3m per storey allowance.

xiii.         Officers would keep under review the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on future development trends and values / requirements for sustainable and healthy living.


The Executive Councillor commented:

    i.               If the water treatment centre was able to relocate then this site was the right place for development; more jobs and housing was required by the area to meet existing and future needs.

  ii.               Prior to 2015, councils were able to set requirements for water usage as part of planning applications.  The development should not rely on mains water and should look at ways to re-use water.  She wanted to challenge the Government to permit councils to set water usage conditions as part of planning applications. 


The Committee resolved by 5 votes to 0 with 4 abstentions to endorse the recommendations.


The Executive Councillor approved the recommendations.


Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.

Supporting documents: