17:21 Wednesday 1st July 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
CHRIS MANN: People in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire are to be consulted once more on how the area’s councils can deliver thousands of new houses. Last month a Government inspector said more work must be done on the Local Plan, which maps out long term development for the two districts. Cambridge City and South Cambs will work together to address those concerns. Well let’s find out more from councillor Robert Turner, who is South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, who joins me now. Robert, hello.
ROBERT TURNER: Good afternoon Chris, and good afternoon to all your listeners.
CHRIS MANN: So a bit of a slap on the wrist for you guys from these Inspectors. They said that you hadn’t done enough and your ideas were all wrong basically.
ROBERT TURNER: I don’t know whether it’s actually a slap on the wrist, but all it is is a setback for us in the immediate time now. We have got to do this extra work which the Inspector has asked us to do, of affordability, infrastructure, and looking at the Green Belt in conjunction with housing on the edge of Cambridge. So that work will be done between ourselves and Cambridge City, and we want to get that work done as quick as possible.
CHRIS MANN: As I understand it, one of their concerns is that you planned satellite developments, away from the urban development that already exists of Cambridge. Am I right?
ROBERT TURNER: Absolutely right. That is absolutely true.
CHRIS MANN: So what they’re saying is that you shouldn’t be doing that, because you’re going to create whole new infrastructures, and you should be doing more planning on the Green Belt, closer to Cambridge.
ROBERT TURNER: Well they have asked us to look at this evidence, to see if that is actually correct. We are going to do that work for them, but actually what you’ve got to look at as well, we had extensive consultation periods with all the residents of South Cambridgeshire, and they expressed their views that they wanted these big satellite developments, rather than having it in the villages of South Cambridgeshire. So we have got to do that work. We are doing that work, and officers are doing that as we speak. And we’ll do that in the timeframe that we’ve got to do.
CHRIS MANN: The submitted Local Plan includes provision for 22,000 more jobs and 14,000 new homes. That’s for Cambridge. South Cambs, 22,000 new jobs and 19,000 new homes. And this is massive!
ROBERT TURNER: Great big, yes, but the whole Plan period is until 2031, so those houses and homes, we are .. I am put(ting) them forward to be delivered. But it is over a quite long period of time before we have got to deliver them. But as you know, we had a big development approved last week at Northstowe, so that will be coming on stream. But also we are looking at Bourn Airfield as you know, and Waterbeach. They are the big outside towns.
CHRIS MANN: Before we get into the rights and wrongs of the places you’ve proposed, what’s wrong in building around the existing part of Cambridge? Why have you rejected that?
ROBERT TURNER: Most of it is really for the consultation that we had with the general public of South Cambridgeshire. They have said that they’d rather have newer towns, newer towns which we have identified, but they have also said they don’t want it on the edge of Cambridge. When we looked at Marshall’s proposal, I think that would have been a site which could have come forward, and that would have been so close ..
CHRIS MANN: That’s next to the airfield.
ROBERT TURNER: Yes that’s right.
CHRIS MANN: Which is not going to happen.
ROBERT TURNER: That’s not going to happen.
CHRIS MANN: That would have been a big relief.
ROBERT TURNER: That would have been a big relief, but also we have got on the Newmarket Road of Cambridge, of Marshall’s, the Wing development which is going to come forward, and there’s ..
CHRIS MANN: Just a lot of NIMBYism is it? Not in my backyard. Will they just do it down the road in the brownfield site.
ROBERT TURNER: If you talk about NIMBYism, that is in my own ward, and my own patch which I represent. So Fen Ditton are looking forward to seeing the Wing development come forward, and that will provide 1300 new homes.
CHRIS MANN: How quickly can you sort this mess out with the Inspectors, so that we can get on with the planning that this area needs? Because we’re desperately short of homes, are we not? There are lots of people already coming in for jobs, but where are we going to put them all?
ROBERT TURNER: You’re absolutely right in saying that. What we want to do is work as quickly as possible with this timeframe. We have put forward a timeframe which you can see which has been published in the news releases which we have already put out. The work is being done on that, and we’re hoping that we can get this done by November/ December time. We’ll then have to go out again for consultation, just to consult with our residents. And then as soon as that has been done, we will then go and carry on with the work, and then present that to Laura Graham, so we can continue with the Inspection of the plans.
CHRIS MANN: It hasn’t taken me long in our conversation Robert to realise that you’re not going to change your mind, are you? You’re not going to go with these Inspectors and go with this other plan B. Plan A is what you want. So this is just a waste of time as far as you’re concerned.
ROBERT TURNER: No it’s not a waste of time. We have got to do this work that we have got to do. The work will be going forward. All she wants to do is to make sure that what we are saying is absolutely sound. And at the end of the day, people are saying to me, oh, we’re going to completely change our Local Plan. But if we’d done that and if we could do that, at the moment it would be illegal to do so. But if it was completely thrown out, and we had to start again, then there would be more delays. If I could adopt this Local Plan here and now, I would do so.
CHRIS MANN: Is there too much red tape in local planning? Is this all not too much of a process?
ROBERT TURNER: I think that is a question that you could ask our new MPs, because it will be down to them to stop the red tape.
CHRIS MANN: If you could, would you ride a bit more roughshod?
ROBERT TURNER: I certainly would.
CHRIS MANN: And the Green Belt would have to go?
ROBERT TURNER: No. The Green Belt is one of our top priorities which we want to keep hold of. That is absolutely ..
CHRIS MANN: But then we’ve got so many people coming here, and everything’s expanding. Something has to give, doesn’t it?
ROBERT TURNER: It does, but let’s look at our brownfield sites first of Bourn Airfield, Waterbeach. Let’s look at those first before we start looking at our Green Belt.
CHRIS MANN: Robert Turner, thank you so much for joining us.
ROBERT TURNER: Thank you Chris.
CHRIS TURNER: South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning.