Cambridgeshire County Council
Housing report - November 2009
This briefing is to keep you updated about Cambridgeshire's emerging response to the consultation on the East of England Plan review. As you know, the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) has been consulting across the region on the review of the East of England Plan for development up to 2031.
The consultation includes scenarios for substantial growth in Cambridgeshire, ranging from 3,600 homes per annum to 4,600 homes per annum. In order to help Cambridgeshire residents understand the implications of the plan, and to provide them with an opportunity to give their views on it, we (the County Council and the District Councils) carried out our own information campaign and consultation throughout September and October (the Future Cambridgeshire consultation). This briefing gives an insight into the headline results of this consultation, and also the draft response to EERA.
Headline results from the analysis of the survey show that 46% of respondents opted to say that 'even 3600 new homes each year is too many'. The second most popular response (32%) was in support of the lowest of the levels of house building being proposed - 3600 new dwellings a year to 2031. Respondents were also asked to state their three top priorities for the county. The three issues which topped the list were better transport, safer streets and more green spaces, and better protection and enhancement for the natural environment. Also scoring highly were better community facilities and responding to the challenge of climate change. The least important priority was more homes. When asked where new development should take place, the top scoring option was 'more jobs and houses in existing market towns' followed by 'more jobs and houses along public transport routes' and 'more jobs and houses in and close to Cambridge'.
The option that received least support was 'more new towns' reflecting concern about proposals such as Alconbury, Hanley Grange and Mereham. We will be contacting the respondents who gave us their contact details with the full analysis and report when it is complete. It will also be posted on the County Council's website. A survey of businesses and three business breakfast events were also held as part of the consultation. The headline results from the business survey show that 93% of business respondents rated road access as the biggest influence on their choice of business location and 67% were against further housing growth beyond that already planned for Cambridgeshire.
The concern with infrastructure, particularly transport was reflected in the discussion at the first business breakfast (the only one to have taken place as this briefing was prepared). The focus of discussion was on the need to address our existing infrastructure deficit before considering further growth in the county. Transport was highlighted as a particular concern and one having the largest impact on economic competitiveness; however the need for a high quality environment, retail provision, conference facilities and appropriate business premises was also raised.
There were also calls for a clearer vision for the future of Cambridgeshire. The draft Cambridgeshire response to the consultation as set out in the Cabinet report of 24th November, states that the foundation of the approach for Cambridgeshire is based on the delivery of the current strategy of 75,000 new homes (equivalent to 3,000 new homes a year over the period 2011 to 2031). However, there may be potential to deliver up to an additional 15,000 new homes overall (equivalent to 3,600 new homes a year over the Planperiod)The response emphasises that the focus should be on successfully implementing the existing strategy and that the higher rates of growth put forward in scenarios 2, 3 and 4 are unsustainable and undeliverable. The need for the provision of adequate infrastructure is stressed and the Regional Assembly's projections for job growth are questioned.
John Reynolds November 2009