08:20 Friday 3rd January 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[D]OTTY MCLEOD: Plans for more than 1,000 homes on the outskirts of Cambridge are now out for public consultation. The development would go north of Newmarket Road. It’s been submitted by Marshalls of Cambridge, and it includes 40% affordable housing, a primary school, a food store and sports pitches. Cllr Nick Wright is Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development at South Cambridgeshire District Council. Thanks for joining us this morning Nick. Tell us a little bit more about what the plans involve.
NICK WRIGHT: You’ve really put that over very well already. This is a chance for the public and the consultees to have a look at the plans and comment on them. The consultation starts today, and goes on into February.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So what kind of input are you looking for? Is it if people think there are too many houses, if people think they’re in the wrong place .. ?
NICK WRIGHT: Well I don’t think there’s any doubt we have a real need for housing in this area. Our success with creating jobs has meant that people have to travel vast distances to get into Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, and we need more housing here to provide that accommodation for them, so that it’s not putting so much problems onto our transport.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Well you mentioned transport. Newmarket Road is extremely busy as it is. There are a lot of residents who are very very worried with the building of the two hotels opposite each other at the junction with Coldhams Lane about the impact that would have on traffic. 1300 new houses is going to have even more of an impact isn’t it?
NICK WRIGHT: Yes of course it will. And you know, this isn’t just about cars. This is about other forms of transport as well. And part of the advantage of building on this brownfield site is that it’s close to the airport where many people work. We don’t see everybody there using cars, although there’s two new junctions onto Newmarket Road, so that is obviously going to be an issue. But this development will provide opportunities for 106 agreements, will provide monies for improvements to roads etcetera off the site.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And 1,300 new houses, we mentioned a school, a food store and sports pitches. What will the development likely look at? What kind of design is it?
NICK WRIGHT: It’s a very high quality design. What we’ve seen already from Marshalls looks impressive. They’ve set out to make sure that it’s top quality. It’s going to provide 40% affordable housing out of that twelve to thirteen hundred number, which is absolutely necessary for this area. We need to provide the affordable housing, and this is the sort of development that can do it.
DOTTY MCLEOD: It sounds Nick like you’re quite on board with the plans for this development already. Can the District Council be objective , when you’re being involved at such an early stage?
NICK WRIGHT: Absolutely. We’re at the listening stage at the moment. I’m not sitting here to promote it, although I recognise that there is a big need for it. We will be sitting back and listening to the comments of the residents, the community groups and the consultees, the Environment Agency and everybody else. We sit back and listen, we look at the comments, and then we come to our decisions.
DOTTY MCLEOD: There’ll be people out there thinking, oh, another consultation. They never make any difference. You’ve had your Draft Local Plan. There was a huge consultation going back with that. A lot of people will feel that they haven’t been listened to in the past, and they won’t be listened to with this one, even if they do submit their worries.
NICK WRIGHT: We do listen, and the consultations do make a difference. That is so important, because planning is always about balance. And it’s balancing with what residents want and what is needed which has made this area one of the best places to live. People like living here. There’s good opportunities. We’re creating jobs. So we want to keep that balance right. So we listen to what our residents say.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Can South Cambridgeshire and can Cambridge continue to create jobs and continue to invite the world to live here, invite people to come here? It does mean that we have to build more houses, but then people who are native to this area don’t necessarily want to see the landscape in the city change to that extent.
NICK WRIGHT: That is what the consultation is so much about. It’s gathering those views, making sure that we get the growth and the development in the sports that people want to see it, where it’s sustainable, that dreadful word, but absolutely close to the city, where the jobs are, so they don’t have to jump in their cars to work, and can preferably walk or get around like that. Can we stop the growth? Cambridge is growing well. There’s jobs. That knowldge that is here in Cambridge is creating wealth and jobs. And it is part of one of the areas that will lead this country out of recession.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Cllr Nick Wright, Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic development at South Cambridgsehire District Council. Thanks very much for coming in this morning. We appreciate it.