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Low-carbon city district proposed for Cambridgeshire

Words: Laura Edgar
New district proposed for Cambridgeshire / Greater Cambridge Planning Service

The Greater Cambridge Planning Service has put together plans for a new city district in North East Cambridge that is low-carbon with minimal car use.

The service, a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City councils, wishes the district to be inclusive, with a mix of homes, workplaces, services, and social spaces that are fully integrated with surrounding neighbourhoods

It could comprise 8,000 homes and provide space for 20,000 jobs over the next 20 years. The district would be delivered on brownfield land between the A14, the Guided Busway and Cambridge North station. The councils want to create a district that is walkable.

The plans, developed in collaboration with stakeholders and communities and from consultations in 2014 and 2019, build on research of case studies from around the world on creating low-car use and low-carbon districts and communities. 

Regeneration of the area will see the Anglian Water Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant to be relocated, a process that is currently subject to a consultation process this summer, led by Anglian Water.

Through the 20-year plan for the new district the councils aim to:

  • Meet robust targets for energy use, water conservation and discourage car use. Developers will have to prove that they can increase biodiversity.
  • Encourage active and healthy lifestyles through a 10-hectare network of new green spaces linking Milton Country Park to Chesterton Fen, and down to Nuffield Road.
  • Make it easy for people to walk and cycle to work, school or college, local shops and leisure activities – a place where the car is not king by reducing car use and air pollution.
  • Deliver 8,000 new homes, with a target of 40 per cent affordable rented and shared ownership homes.
  • Have space for around 20,000 jobs.
  • Establish four new centres within the district for shops, restaurants, community and cultural facilities.
  • Deliver three new primary schools.

The consultation, which closes at 5pm on 5 October, will see leaflets delivered to 20,000 homes across the local area, with both councils also running online Q&A sessions whereby residents can find out more about the proposals and ask questions. 

More information about the draft plan and consultation can be found here on the Greater Cambridge Planning Service website.

Katie Thornburrow, executive councillor for planning policy and open spaces at Cambridge City Council, said: “Our vision is for a neighbourhood that mixes homes, business space, and community services with lots of green space, so that people can spend time enjoying being outdoors. We want a place where a strong community can grow, one with the facilities people need at hand, where everyone can easily get to the new jobs that will come into the area without having to battle traffic and where children can safely play near their home because of the way the district will be designed to encourage active travel, with streets that slow down motor vehicles.  

“This new district in the north-east of the city can be a model for the rest of Cambridge, as we look for ways to reduce congestion and its environmental impacts and make housing more affordable. It gives us an excellent opportunity to show how a low-carbon, sustainable neighbourhood can be a great place to live and work.”

Dr Tumi Hawkins, lead cabinet member for planning at South Cambridgeshire District Council, added: “If we want to make systemic change we need to set our sights high, and we’re working incredibly hard to enable development that brings much-needed homes but also responds to the climate and biodiversity emergencies.

“We can only do this by building the right kind of development in the right place. With existing transport links, such as Cambridge North station, this 180-hectare brownfield site is the right place. It gives us a unique chance to provide the homes that people desperately need in a place where they won’t need to rely on a car to get to their jobs. And building the right kind of development means reducing the emissions resulting from construction, the energy used to heat, light and maintain buildings, and encouraging the people who will live and work here to lead low-carbon lifestyles. This new plan sets out our groundbreaking plans to achieve this.”