Fears of damage to district as South Cambs Local Plan proposals rumble on
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The South Cambs Local Plan to build more than 19,000 homes by 2031 is the longest running proposal of its kind in the country – and councillors fear “damage has been done to the district” as a result of the drawn-out process.
The draft plan – which proposes to make provisions for 19,500 homes and 22,000 jobs in South Cambs – was originally submitted in March 2014.
It runs alongside Cambridge City Council’s own proposals, as a joint Local Plan could go ahead from 2019 as part of the Greater Cambridge Partnership agreement with the Government.
District councillor Aidan Van de Weyer, who represents Orwell and Barrington, told the Crow: “The plan has so far lasted three years and 10 months. The next longest is Rochdale’s, which took three years and five months to complete.
“This process will take many more weeks, meaning it will be delayed until after the elections at the earliest.”
Residents, businesses, developers and parishes are now invited to comment on proposed modifications to the plan, which include the method to calculate whether there is enough suitable land available in the next five years, changing policies so affordable housing is sought on sites of more than 10 homes, and allocation of additional employment land at the Addenbrooke’s campus.
Bassingbourn district councillor Nigel Cathcart said: “It’s taken far too long to get to this point.
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“In a sense, I’m more concerned about the volume of speculative planning applications, which would not otherwise have been given permission.
“The infrastructure can’t take it, I am very concerned that local villages could be permanently damaged.”
Melbourn councillor Jose Hales said: “The length of time it’s taken to sign off the Local Plan has been dreadful. It has accentuated the uncertainty felt by all communities in South Cambs.
“Melbourn has felt the effects of this awful delay. If all the applications for Melbourn are approved, it’s likely to see 465 homes plus a 75-bed care home thrust upon it without real improvements to infrastructure.”
Councillor Philippa Hart, who has been Meldreth’s district councillor for almost as long as the Local Plan saga has gone on, said: “We have to recognise that South Cambs is an economic success story and the jobs it generates means that people will need to live here.
“The current Local Plan aims to concentrate the new housing into new settlements, enlarging Cambourne and Cambridge fringes, but I also see signs that the villages are beginning to recognise that without growth they will lose out – residents will be disproportionately aged and their services under-resourced and increasingly difficult to access.”
Councillor Robert Turner, cabinet member for planning at SCDC, said: “We recognise that the Local Plan process is taking longer than expected.
“It’s important to remember that our draft plan is a complex document, being examined at the same time as Cambridge City’s, and there have been lots of representations made. However, we are pleased that – with a public consultation into the proposed modifications underway – we have taken the next step in the process.”
The inspectors’ final conclusions will be given in their reports in due course.
To view the full list of modifications and take part in the public consultation go to www.scambs.gov.uk/mainmods before 5pm on February 16.