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1. Since May 2000 the Council has published three Reports on the development of the University's land in North West Cambridge. The Council's Third Report (Reporter, 2004-05, p. 513) set out the principles and general nature of the emerging spatial options, which were approved by Grace 6 of 20 April 2005 as a basis for further development of a Master Plan and preparation of submissions to the Cambridge Local Plan Public Inquiry. The Council included a progress report on North West Cambridge in its Annual Report for 2005-06. This announced the setting up of a Strategy Committee to oversee the development of plans for the site. The purpose of this Notice is to report on the current position on the development of North West Cambridge and to respond to comments made in the Discussion on 9 October 2007 of the Twelfth Report of the Board of Scrutiny (Reporter, 2007-08, p. 86).
2. The Council's Third Report set out the proposed mix of uses for the site, described the site's assets, constraints, and opportunities, and reported on the process by which the Master Plan was being developed. The town and country planning context at the time was that the Cambridge Local Plan was reaching the Inquiry stage with the University pursuing objections to the City Council's draft plan in relation to:
|-||recognition that development will take place across the City boundary in South Cambridgeshire;|
|-||the release of land for collegiate development;|
|-||the need for flexibility in development phasing;|
|-||reducing the affordable housing target from 70%, to achieve viable development;|
|-||affordable housing provision only for University and College key workers, not social housing;|
|-||the removal of Green Belt designations;|
|-||open space provision;|
|-||public transport provision;|
|-||transport infrastructure payments.|
3. The Inquiry took place from September to November 2005, and the Inspector found in favour of many of the University's representations. As a result the Cambridge Local Plan, which was adopted in July 2006, included policies for the development of the University's land between Madingley Road and Huntingdon Road for predominantly University uses, including housing (up to 26 ha with an indicative capacity of 1,150 dwellings, of which 50% should be affordable key worker housing for the University and Colleges, subject to development viability and costs and whether other planning objectives should be given priority), academic faculty development, collegiate development and student housing, and a University conference centre (up to 14 ha), research institute and commercial research development (up to 6 ha), community facilities including a primary school and local centre, and public open space. This development allocation is made on land released from the Green Belt (68 ha) and land previously allocated for development (12 ha). On the former, the University has to demonstrate a clear need for the land to be released for development in order for planning permission to be granted by the City Council.
4. Local Plan policy also requires further guidance/policy to be prepared for the site. This is being prepared in the form of an Area Action Plan (being prepared jointly by Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils, see para 5 below) and a site Master Plan (by the University). In his report on the Local Plan inquiry, the Inspector allowed for suitable land to be redesignated as Green Belt through the Area Action Plan.
5. Following the enactment of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 the planning system changed with the introduction of a Local Development Framework (LDF) in place of Local Plans. The LDF is a portfolio of policy documents including Area Action Plans for specific areas. For North West Cambridge the City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council agreed to prepare a joint Area Action Plan for the whole of the North West Cambridge site under the new arrangements.
6. The process for preparing an Area Action Plan involves several stages of public consultation by the local authorities, leading to public examination into the soundness of the Plan by an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. To date the Councils have consulted on Issues and Options (between October and December 2006) and on a 'Preferred Options' draft Area Action Plan (22 October to 3 December 2007). Representations have been submitted to both consultations. These were consistent with the proposals for the site approved by the Regent House, and were approved by the North West Cambridge Strategy Committee. The representations to the Preferred Options consultation include a plan showing a proposed site development footprint derived from the version of the emerging Master Plan currently under consideration by the Strategy Committee (see para 8 below).
7. The local authorities will now consider the representations received and, where necessary, amend the draft Area Action Plan before it is submitted to the Secretary of State. This will trigger a further six-week period of public consultation, scheduled for June to July 2008, followed by a Public Examination in November to December 2008. The Inspector's amendments to the Plan will then be binding on the local authorities. The Inspector's report is expected in May 2009.
8. The Council's Third Report noted that 'further development of a Master Plan by the University will need to be an iterative process with continuing involvement with the stakeholders and responding to the outcomes of the Cambridge Local Plan Inquiry and the preparation of South Cambridgeshire's Local Development Framework'. An 'emerging Master Plan' consistent with the principles approved by Grace was published on the University's website (http://www-building.arct.cam.ac.uk/northwestc/masterplanning.html) in July 2005 as part of the evidence to the Cambridge Local Plan Public Inquiry. The Strategy Committee have under consideration further development of that Plan responding to the analysis presented by the local authorities in their consultation material, and to financial modelling by the University's consultant team. The Council expects to publish a Fourth Report during the Lent Term 2008 seeking approval of the further developed proposals for North West Cambridge including a new Master Plan as the basis of the University's evidence to the Public Examination into the draft Area Action Plan. That Report will also present proposals for taking forward the development of the site.
9. The Council has considered the remarks made by Dr D. R. de Lacey and Mr N. M. Maclaren at the Discussion on 9 October 2007 of the Twelfth Report of the Board of Scrutiny. Dr de Lacey, who has been involved in the consultations on the Area Action Plan through his position as Chairman of Girton Parish Council, referred to statements made by officers on behalf of the University. Those statements have been in line with the policies for the site approved by the Regent House, and have been made as part of a response to the Area Action Plan approved by the North West Cambridge Strategy Committee. The local authorities have been made aware of the status of the University's Master Plan.
10. Mr Maclaren referred to the County Council's bid to the Government for £500m to fund a package of transport improvements to tackle congestion, which will entail the introduction of a congestion charge in Cambridge. Discussions were held with senior County Council officers soon after the announcement of the proposals to raise the specific issues mentioned by Mr Maclaren. The County Council are currently consulting on their proposals and the Council will submit a response on behalf of the University, taking advice from relevant bodies including the Personnel Committee, the North West Cambridge Strategy Committee, and the Planning and Resources Committee.
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Cambridge University Reporter 09 January 2008
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