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Agenda item

Pre-Application Briefing by the Developer - GB1 (Netherhall Gardens), Land north of Worts' Causeway, Cambridge.

The Proposal and site context

The pre application proposal is for the provision of up to 200 dwellings in this site located in the city’s south-eastern edge. The proposed development will be formed by three character areas to provide terraced, detached and semi-detached typologies, which range from 2 to 3 stories in height.


The Netherhall Farm Meadow protected Open Space and City and County Wildlife and Local Nature Reserve is located within the pre application site and adjacent to Netherhall Farm, a Building of Local interest. A Tree Protection Order Area also forms part of the site.


The site also falls within the Impact Risk Zone of Cherry Hinton Pit Site of Special Scientific Interest and mainly visible from those sites and from along Granham’s Road and eastwards along Worts’ Causeway. The development would fall within the immediate setting of the Netherhall Farm.

The site is at high risk of surface water, particularly in its southern portion along Worts’s Causeway.


Planning History and policy context

The site is identified as ‘GB1’ in the Cambridge Local Plan (2018) and has been released from the Green Belt to deliver housing. Along with ‘GB2’ (Newbury Farm, situated south of Worts’ Causeway opposite to GB1), both sites are to be developed to deliver up to 430 new dwellings.


Policy 27 identifies the sites as ‘Site specific development opportunities’ and sets out overall requirements subject to which any proposed development will be supported: (a) Any amelioration and mitigation needed to address issues of flooding and contamination; (b) Design considerations; (c) Satisfactory access and other infrastructure provision; and (d) Any other requirements, where applicable.


The Local Plan through Policy 27 also sets out specific requirements for both sites, among which that development assesses their potential for biodiversity enhancement and the creation of an ecological corridor between both sites; and the early establishment of a generous landscaped area to help create an appropriate buffer with the Green Belt. The Local Plan also requires through Policy 27 that the development of the GB1 site includes the retention of sufficient buffer areas around the Netherhall Farm Meadow Wildlife Site, to protect and enhance the ecological value of the meadow.


In terms of Highways, Policy 27 requires the provision of a single point of crossover between GB1 and GB2 and a single access on to Babraham Road; along with the retention of Worts’ Causeway country lane appearance and character, with limited car access.

Policy 27 also requires development of GB1 and GB2 to be subject to contributions being made towards community facilities and services in this part of the city.


A Screening Opinion was issued on 02 July 2019 concluding that an Environment Statement is required to accompany a planning application. A Scoping Opinion has been issued on 22 November 2019 and an outline application is expected to be submitted early February 2020. There is no further relevant planning history for the site.


A public presentation was held at Netherhall School on 03 July 2019.


Areas of focus

The key issues for the ‘GB1’ (Netherhall Gardens) pre application scheme are:

-  Access and highways, including relation with GB2


-  Biodiversity gains and ecological enhancement


-  Design, including potential impact on Netherhall Farm setting


-  Landscape, including views from surroundings and buffering with Green Belt


-  Drainage approach



Key Points from the Developer Presentation

Scope of the outline application – all matters reserved except for access, with main information submitted with parameter plans (PPs) and illustrative masterplan to support; proposal to provide up to 200 homes.

Community Engagement – report main findings at consultation related with lack of community facilities (i.e. shops and community centre) and advised intention to continue with public engagement.

Masterplan principles – demonstrated how existing community facilities north of the site are within walking distance; previous iterations of the masterplan and key concept of having the green areas embedded in the masterplan; design principles of car parking areas and hard and soft standing treatment, street lighting.

Sustainability – explained strategy for climate change and sustainability and confirmed enough infiltration on site to move forward with proposal for sustainable drainage; confirmed climate change increase can be managed within the site.

Biodiversity – explained the aims to maintain and enhance the Netherhall Farm Meadow County Wildlife Site (CWS); proposal for a footpath to connect the residential areas east of the CWS to the allotments proposed west of the CWS, within the development site.

Member questions/comments

Location of biodiversity and green spaces and opportunity to enhance protected green corridor along Worts Causeway and further east.

Developer comments

Something developer can consider.

Consideration of the role of street trees in overheating, acknowledge issues relating with adoption and highlights number of benefits from street planting.

Developer comments

Any opportunity will be further detailed in the future when landscape detail is submitted, and this should respond to climate change. Consideration can be given on the masterplan with the inclusion of a ‘green pocket’ every 20m on the Landscape PP.

Food opportunity (allotments) to the west, many opportunities in more central locations of the masterplan.

Developer comments

The dominance of this area west of the CWS is the maintenance of the chalk grass, with some provision of food production/ opportunity. Developer can consider other opportunities within the site.

These can be small spaces that communities are interested to take ownership and food growing is a potential opportunity in this site.

This is one of the driest areas of the country with potential effect on trees and open parks, particularly to drought intolerant species, and going forward we need to include ‘lack of water’ as well as flood issues in development proposals.

Developer comments

Developers have provided a package with information on how they already address these in other sites nationwide.

Future proofing for residents willing to reduce water use, in case they want to be net zero; ‘future proof’ development for issues which may not be a policy requirement at the present, but something the developers can consider.

Suggest looking into Marmalade Lane as a reference for grouping car parking, which allowed for residents who have given up their car parking spaces for shared cars, spaces for pedestrians and cyclists or for community buildings to be provided.

Developer comments

Proposal reduces car parking and garages, and spaces can use as storages or for house extension, landscaped parking courts, to group car parking spaces, and where you could have space for shared cars and electric vehicle charging point (EVCP).

If we try to encourage car sharing, it would be much better to make it at a communal space.

Developer comments

Disability panel asked to maintain car parking for carers and visitors which aid with caring for disabled residents.

What is the provision of community facilities on the site?

Developer comments

On-going discussions about financial contribution to provision at GB2 site; feedback from public events were need for local shops as well.

What is the heating strategy for the development?

Developer comments

Developers are considering changes in legislation; looking at the scale of the site to propose the most suitable solution.

Confirm single access to the site and explain movements around the site.

Developer comments

Single vehicular access onto Worts Causeway, with possibility to cross through GB2 for vehicular access onto Babraham Road;

Main access for pedestrians and cyclists at south-west corner of the site onto Worts Causeway, developer investigated further non-vehicular access north-west of the site which proved unviable due to private ownership of the land.

County Highways comments

It is possible for this site to be served by Worts Causeway and a connection via GB2 is not a requirement in terms of motor vehicular access and movement.

Final Notes from the Chair

Discussions covered issues regarding biodiversity and the greening of the area; traffic movements; community facilities and climate change.

Highlighted the need for confirmation about future provision of community facilities and how sustainability measures agreed at outline stage will be transferred to the future housebuilder.