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The Council have considered the remarks made on 14 January 2003 at the Discussion (Reporter, p. 495) of the following topic of concern to the University:
The failure to give the Regent House as promised two years ago an opportunity to know of the progress of plans for development of north-west Cambridge
and have consulted the Land Use Working Group, which was set up to discuss land use planning in the context of wider planning issues (see Reporter, 1999-2000, p. 1007). The Council have agreed to comment as follows:
The University's formal policy for the development of its land holdings in North West Cambridge (the area between Madingley Road, Huntingdon Road, and the M11 motorway) is set out in two Reports, both of which were approved by the Regent House:
|(i)||the Report of the Council of the Senate (Reporter, 1990-91, p.637), which was approved by Grace 12 of 12 June 1991; and|
|(ii)||the Report of the Council on the development of the University's land in North West Cambridge (Reporter, 1999-2000, p.724) which was approved by Grace 12 of 26 July 2000.|
The latter Report approved proposals to develop an outline medium- to long-term strategy for the North West area of Cambridge, and amended the earlier Report in order to allocate the North West Cambridge area for development to provide for University housing and future academic needs, support facilities, and University-related knowledge-based research.
The Council are satisfied that all subsequent action in relation to North West Cambridge has been guided by and is consistent with approved policy. Action has been taken to help create options for the future, not to make commitments.
The Council in their Notice of 29 January 2001 (Reporter, 2000-01, p. 466), undertook to report to the University in the light of comments received. That intention was recently reaffirmed in the Council's Annual Report (para. 22, Reporter, 2002-03, p. 421) as Professor Evans acknowledged in her remarks. When engaged in matters of strategic town and country planning the University must follow procedures and timescales set by the Government and the local planning authorities. The existing policy on North West Cambridge, approved by Grace 12 of 26 July 2000, has provided the necessary authority for the representations made by the University in connection with the Deposit Draft Structure Plan. The Examination in Public of the Draft Structure Plan was held before a panel of experts with an independent Chairman. The Council anticipate that the publication of the panel's report in February 2003 will presage the detailed masterplanning of the North-West Cambridge site later in 2003, in conjunction with the local planning authorities and involving consultation with the general public. Before engaging in that process the Council will publish a Report for discussion in the usual way, before a recommendation to proceed is put to the Regent House by Grace.
Professor Evans has questioned the inclusion of affordable housing and University-related knowledge-based research, and Dr V. P. Whittaker has questioned the motivation for providing affordable housing. The Council note that the Regent House approved the inclusion of both, and remain convinced of their importance.
Research undertaken by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research (in the Department of Land Economy) shows that the University's recruitment and retention problems are linked to the lack of affordable housing for staff in Cambridge. Access to traditional social housing for staff is limited and it falls to the University to attempt to tackle this problem by providing a greater amount of affordable staff housing. It will be possible to retain control of such housing by several means: renting it directly (as is the case for existing housing at Causewayside, George Nuttall Close, and Southacre); agreeing nomination rights with a Registered Social Landlord; or operating a shared ownership scheme.
Providing for interaction with knowledge-based research firms is in line with Government Policy. The DTI's report Investing in Innovation: A Strategy for Science, Engineering and Technology (July 2002) states that 'Universities and publicly funded research establishments need to build on their recent progress in linking with business to create value for the regional and national economy. The Government will consolidate the Higher Education Innovation Fund as a permanent third stream of funding for universities, with investment rising to £90 million per year by 2005-06. This will provide pump-priming resources for technology transfer, entrepreneurship training, corporate spin-outs and seed venture funding'. It must be noted that such provision would be only part of general academic development.
Professor Evans referred to University policy for future growth. Current projections envisage growth continuing at its present rate at postgraduate level, but with only very limited further growth at undergraduate level. These matters form one component of the emerging University Strategic Plan upon which the Council expect to undertake further consultations.
With regard to the remarks of Dr R. Grove and Dr Whittaker, the Council reject the assertions about a failure to inform the University about the plans for North West Cambridge, and Dr Grove's description of the University's relationship with the local planning authorities and the genesis of current thinking on the Cambridge Sub-Region. The publication of the Government's Regional Planning Guidance for East Anglia (RPG6) in 1999 initiated a radical change in approach to planning for the Cambridge Sub-Region. It emphasized the importance of Cambridge as a world leader in higher education, research, and knowledge-based industries, and the need to maintain and enhance this position. RPG6 set a new spatial strategy for housing, employment, and transport infrastructure, including a review of the Cambridge Green Belt. A series of independent experts have identified the conflict between the Cambridge Green Belt on its existing boundaries and sustainable patterns of development and movement (RPG6, 5.15). RPG6 confirms that the justification for a review of the Green Belt is accepted. The tightly drawn Green Belt and other policies to restrain development of Cambridge have resulted in:
|(i)||housing development in locations further from Cambridge, unsupported by local employment;|
|(ii)||the extension of Cambridge's commuting hinterland and car-based commuting;|
|(iii)||high land and house prices and difficulties for many people (including University staff) in affording housing that meets their needs;|
|(iv)||skill shortages and recruitment difficulties for employers.|
RPG6 calls for a review of the inner boundary of the Cambridge Green Belt so that development can take place in more sustainable locations at the edge of Cambridge. The University's proposals seek to ensure that its future developments are achieved at the most sustainable locations, in line with this approach. The University has responded to RPG6 and the draft Structure Plan at the request of the Government Office for the East of England and Cambridgeshire County Council. The University is responding to guidance given in RPG6 that future development around Cambridge is preferred in and at the edge of Cambridge. Others have also taken their lead from that guidance - not from arguments put forward by the University. Indeed, in explaining why North West Cambridge is considered to be the most sustainable location for future University development, the University submitted evidence to the planning authorities and the Examination in Public that shows that West Cambridge south of the Coton footpath is more important to Green Belt purposes than North West Cambridge and was not an appropriate location for future University development.
The University will plan for high quality sustainable transport provision. There is no intention for housing development to accommodate anything like 10,000 people.
With regard to Dr Grove's comments on Cambridge Airport, there is no certainty that Cambridge Airport will be released for development during the Structure Plan period, and it is unlikely that development could take place until 2010 at the earliest. The development of Cambridge Airport would not meet the University's needs. It is necessary to provide for current housing needs now, and to do so closer to the University.
The Council wish to clarify the status of the material published on the North West Cambridge proposals. The proposals presented at the exhibition in March 2001 were indicative, and published to start a process of public consultation. In September 2001 the Land Use Working Group approved the preparation of more detailed visual and technical detail on the North West Cambridge proposals for submission to the County Council as part of the University's representations on the Deposit Draft Structure Plan. This material gave more detail than was presented in March 2001, and included some amendments to the indicative land use drawings. These however were not significantly different to the March 2001 versions, and remained consistent with the University's policy. The full representations can be inspected at the Estate Management and Building Service, 74 Trumpington Street.
The Council are grateful to Dr N. W. Moore for his information on the ecological impact of the development of Bar Hill. They confirm that it is the intention to maintain existing areas of wildlife value and to create new habitats within the site. The current proposals include a significant proportion of open space, and the existing geological site of Special Scientific Interest will be protected. In its submissions, the University has and will continue to emphasize the high value given to ecological and other environmental matters.
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Cambridge University Reporter, Wednesday 12 March 2003
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.