Wheat or concrete for South Cambs?
This South Cambridgeshire field of wheat may have offered up its last harvest. Next summer it will disappear under a concrete and tarmac parkn’ride, west of the M11, near Hauxton and Harston on the A10.
Here’s the Cambridge Independent’s write-up earlier in the year:
This parkn’ride of 2,000 spaces will reduce the numbers of cars trying to get to the Bio-medical Campus in Cambridge. Commuters will be able to park in South Cambs, helping to keep Cambridge congestion free. It’s a proposal put forward by the Greater Cambridge Partnership, whose three voting members are the local authorities of South Cambridgeshire, Cambridge City, and Cambridgeshire County Council.
During July, while the farmers were getting the harvest in, South Cambs councillors were getting up to speed on what they wanted the next Local Plan to prioritise and focus on. I went to two meetings in particular: one of the new Environment Committee, and one a specific consultation for councillors on shaping the next Local Plan.
(NB Local Plans set out the strategic priorities for development of an area and cover housing, commercial, public and private development, including transport infrastructure, along with protection for the local environment).
The environment committee heard a good deal of evidence on the need for carbon neutral and sustainable building, and how other local authorities were setting challenging targets in their Local Plans for developers to meet.
The teach-in on the Local Plan sought views on the aspirations of councillors, and again there was much discussion about the need for a green Local Plan, and sustainable development.
So I put a motion to South Cambridgeshire District Council proposing that until we had shaped the next Local Plan, and in particular the elements of sustainability and environmental protection, the Greater Cambridge Partnership ambition for parkn’rides on the A10, and on the A428 too, should be stayed. Not abandoned, but held in abeyance until the District Council as the planning authority had agreed among itself what it meant by sustainable development and what requirements developers of all types might expect to work to. I said that I gave the new administration “credit for trying to shape the Local Plan so that it had some aspiration to it”.
I’m sorry to say that my motion was not supported. The leader of the Council said “we have to crack on with this” adding “we need to trust that all our environmental ambitions are taken into full consideration in any development that happens as a result of the City Deal money.”
I’ve been accused of playing politics on this. I plead guilty to the charge, because it is politics, local politics, that will decide the fate of this field, and many others.
I want Cambridge City to be uncongested, to have breathable air and pleasant vistas. I look forward to cycling along the Chisholm Trail with the eponymous Jim Chisholm, like Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas in the Tour de France.
But I also want South Cambridgeshire and it’s distinct pattern of villages not to become the car park for the City of Cambridge. My motion was intended to give us some time to shape out future - otherwise what is the point of South Cambridgeshire councillors working on a Local Plan at at all?