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Frequently asked questions


What is the Greater Cambridge Local Plan? 

A Local Plan is a legal document that the Councils are required to prepare, which sets out the future land use and planning policies for the area over a set time period. Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council are working together to create a joint Local Plan for the two areas – which we are referring to as Greater Cambridge. This is the first time we will have a joint Plan, and it will ensure that there is a consistent approach to planning and building across both areas over the next 20 years. 


How can communities and individuals get involved? 

We are involving our communities and stakeholders all the way through the Plan development process. We held the First Conversation consultation earlier in 2020 and we will be holding a Preferred Option consultation in summer/autumn 2021 where we will be inviting everyone to comment on our suggested spatial strategy and sites for development. We are publishing regular updates including initial evidence findings throughout the period leading up to the next consultation, and there are further stages of public consultation planned. We are also involving different stakeholder groups, including parish councils and residents associations, in developing the evidence base for the Plan and testing initial findings. If you want to be kept up to date, please sign up for updates. 


How does the consultation feedback help shape the Plan? 

We consider all the feedback and assess it carefully alongside other evidence that we are gathering. It helps us understand your priorities for both the big picture strategic questions, and more localised or specialist concerns. We will also respond to issues raised at each stage. 


What is the Call for Sites? 

A Call for Sites is a way for landowners, developers, individuals and other interested parties to suggest sites for development, and to let us know when they may be available for development. This is a normal part of plan making, and we have carried out a number of call for sites to inform previous local plans. It does not give any development status to the sites submitted, which will be fully assessed and shortlisted in due course. Read more about the Call for Sites. 


Are the sites you have published going to be in the new Local Plan? 

We have had far more land suggested for development than we can possibly need – enough land for around 220,000 homes. The First Conversation highlighted different approaches to how many homes the new Local Plan should deliver, ranging from 5,000 to 30,000 homes beyond the sites that already have permission or are included in our adopted Plans. None of the sites we have published have yet been selected as our preferred sites, and most of them will not make it into the Plan. 


How can I comment on the sites that have been suggested by landowners? 

We are not taking comments yet, as none of the sites submitted have yet been fully assessed by our team, nor chosen as preferred sites for development. We will welcome your comments at the Preferred Option stage, when we will hold a full public consultation on our recommended spatial strategy and the sites we suggest to go with it. This will happen in summer or autumn 2021. If you want to be kept up to date, please sign up for updates. 


How do you decide what sites should be built on? 

We assess all the sites for their suitability against a number of criteria. These include technical issues such as flood risk, their location in terms of access to public transport and local services, their landscape impact, and other environmental factors. Most importantly we also assess whether they align with the emerging spatial strategy for the Plan – whether they are in the right place to support the place-making vision for Greater Cambridge. We will publish our full assessment of the sites as part of the Preferred Option consultation. 


How do you decide what green spaces to protect or enhance? 

Consultants preparing our green spaces evidence will be identifying broad priority areas and specific projects to enhance and expand the network of green spaces within Greater Cambridge, which could inform allocations and infrastructure requirements for the Local PlanTo inform this work they are considering a wide range of evidence, and will assess green space ideas suggested to the Call for Green Space sites from the First Conversation consultation. Some green space projects could be delivered outside of the planning system, most likely by organisations other than the Councils: for example, community groups who may have put forward green space site ideas may well be best placed to turn these ideas into a reality. We are also gathering evidence on current provision and future need for public open space and playspace to inform policies in the Plan. 


How long will it take before the Plan is adopted? 

Plan-making does take a long time, because we need to do it rigorously, with a full understanding of the evidence, and in dialogue with our communities. We aim to consult on a Preferred Option in summer or autumn 2021, and a Draft Plan in summer 2022. This would be followed by a consultation on the Plan we propose to submit for examination by an independent inspector. Read more about the Plan timetable in our Local Development Scheme. 


How is this affected by the proposed reforms to the planning system? 

The Planning White Paper is a discussion document published for consultation by government. There is currently no firm timescale for it to be developed into legislation, and when it does, there may be interim measures for Councils like ours which are already in the middle of preparing their Local Plans. At this point we are advised to continue with preparing our Plan, and we will review how we ensure we meet any new regulations as the government’s planning reforms are firmed up in due course. 


Where can I find responses to questions there was not time to answer in the Q&A webinars?

Please find the Greater Cambridge Local Plan 'First Conversation' consultation and Call for Sites Q&A1 and Q&A2 webinar responses to questions.



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