The Newnham branch of the Cambridge Labour Party is campaigning against the inclusion of the proposed South West Cambridge development (https://www.southwestcambridge.com/) in the new Greater Cambridge Local Plan (https://www.greatercambridgeplanning.org/emerging-plans-and-guidance/greater-cambridge-local-plan/).
This is one of 658 sites to have been put forward for inclusion in the Local Plan, which, taken together, would add 220,000 new homes to the city. The housing need for the forthcoming Greater Cambridge Local Plan has been assessed at somewhere between 3,900 and 26,300 homes, so only a small number of the sites put forward will be selected.
A formal public consultation on the preferred options for the Local Plan will be held in summer or autumn 2021.
Local campaigners Cameron Holloway, Niamh Sweeney and Hollie Wright have set up a petition to allow Newnham residents to express their views on the proposed development.
We the petitioners ask Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council to reject proposals for major development on the West Fields in the new Greater Cambridge Joint Local Plan and the upcoming review of proposed sites.
The University of Cambridge and four colleges are planning to build up to 2,800 houses on Green Belt land between Barton Road and the West Cambridge site.
The proposed development (https://www.southwestcambridge.com/) has been submitted for inclusion in the Greater Cambridge Local Plan (https://www.greatercambridgeplanning.org/emerging-plans-and-guidance/greater-cambridge-local-plan/).
A proposal at the same site was rejected from the 2006 Cambridge Local Plan.
On that occasion, Cambridge City Council concluded that (https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/media/2521/issues-and-options-2-part-1-technical-document-b.pdf):
- Development of this site would have a severe negative impact on the purposes of Green Belt.
- Large areas of the land north of Barton Road falls within Flood Zone 3 (high risk).
- The western part of the site suffers from poor air quality and noise due to the proximity of the M11.
- Overall, it was a ‘site with no significant development potential’ due to ‘significant constraints and adverse impacts’.
Following a challenge by Ashwell Property Group, a 2007 High Court judgement (https://www.casemine.com/judgement/uk/5a8ff75360d03e7f57eab4ac) upheld the ruling that the land should not be released from the Green Belt.
We feel that these objections still stand, and that the housing need in Greater Cambridge can be met without removing this site from the Green Belt. We fully recognise the need for new council, social and socially affordable housing in and around Cambridge, to address the current shortage and reduce house prices in the city, but the proposed development would not meet this need.
We also feel that the South West Cambridge proposal is unsuitable due to: the site’s Green Belt status; the damage that would be caused to animal and plant habitats; the high risk of flooding; the additional abstraction from the Chalk aquifer that would result, when the current level is already unsustainable; the likelihood of increased traffic on Barton Road; and the negative effect on historic views into the city.
We urgently need action to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies, and we urgently need more housing that is genuinely affordable. This proposed development delivers neither.
We urge Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council to reject this proposal from the new Greater Cambridge Local Plan.