Image credit: Cajeo Zhang on Unsplash
The Prime Minister and Levelling Up Secretary have announced plans to build a new urban quarter in Cambridge. Chair of Homes England Peter Freeman will lead the Cambridge Delivery Group, made up of leading planners and experts with a £5 million budget, to work with Cambridge City Council and the local community to advance new development.
Cambridge has the potential to become Europe’s Science Capital. But new graduates, young people, and outside talent are all priced out from the housing market. Researchers do not have the supply of world-leading research facilities and laboratories that other centres of excellence around the world, like Paris and Amsterdam, currently enjoy. Support for the new proposals has come from major local employers such as AstraZeneca, AVEVA, and Darktrace.
New development will be on disused brownfield land with an infrastructure first approach, including energy and water efficient buildings, facilitated by streamlined planning. Developers will be asked to support more local infrastructure through fees, helping to make the Congestion Charge unnecessary. Funding from central government will also go towards much needed public infrastructure.
To address concerns around water scarcity, a Water Scarcity Working Group will be convened with the Environment Agency, Ofwat, central and local government to ensure new development is matched by adequate water supply. This will include accelerating plans for the new Fens Reservoir. The Government also announced £3 million of funding for improving the water efficiency of residential and commercial property In Cambridge.
The proposed gentle density model for a new urban quarter is similar to what has been achieved already in Eddington in North West Cambridge. This could protect the surrounding Cambridgeshire countryside and help people to enjoy affordable and liveable neighbourhoods. Sustainable growth could also help local companies to stay and scale in the city, leading to more opportunities for young people.
The Cambridge City Conservative Association has commented:
“There is an urgent need for new homes, offices, and labs to help our city keep attracting talent and innovation. But we strongly encourage the Government to work constructively with the local Council and the community to find the right solutions. This must not be a top-down process. Residents must be kept informed and consulted throughout. The unfair Congestion Charge shows what happens when local people are not listened to. Of the utmost importance, there needs to be a clear plan to address the issue of water scarcity. A new urban quarter in Cambridge has the potential to be a positive development, but it will require sustained and serious dialogue. In that spirit, we look forward to hearing further details and will support any plans that receive local approval.”
Conservative Councillor Delowar Hossain has commented:
“I believe we must have the right development in the right places. This means getting additional infrastructure, protecting green spaces, and making sure new buildings are beautiful and reflect the historic character of this special and unique city. Most important of all, the people of King’s Hedges must have their say in how this new development moves forward. I will be a local champion for Cambridge to ensure the voices of residents are heard loud and clear, and I will be unafraid to call out planners when they get it wrong. But together, we can make Cambridge the best city in Britain to live, work, study, raise families, and lead innovation. That is why I will always fight for what is best for Cambridge.”