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Frequently asked questions

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About the Proposed Submission Area Action Plan

Homes and businesses

Green spaces and community facilities


What is an Area Action Plan? 

An Area Action Plan is a planning framework, equivalent in status to a Local Plan, that will guide how development in a specific area will be planned. It sets out the policies that developers will have to stick to when they propose new planning applications.  

This includes the amount and location of new development, what different uses (activities) take place where, how buildings and spaces must be designed, and the kinds of standards, such as energy and water efficiency, that we will expect them to meet. 

You can find out more about this in our video about what an Area Action Plan is:

What areas are included in the Proposed Submission Area Action Plan?

It includes the east of Milton Road – the area bounded by the A14, the railway and extending south to the Nuffield Road industrial area - and the west of Milton Road, including the Cambridge Science Park, the Cambridge Regional College, and the car showrooms on the corner of Milton Road and the Guided Busway. 

Are the new hotel at Cambridge North and the new units on Cambridge Science Park part of the Proposed Submission Area Action Plan?

These projects are within the Area Action Plan boundary but are not part of the Plan itself. The Area Action Plan sets out a planning framework for future development across the site area, and has to work around already consented development, such as these projects.  

What is proposed for the area of land between the railway and the river? 

This land is largely designated Green Belt, lies within the flood zone and contains a significant established Gypsy and Traveller community and industrial estate. It is outside of the Area Action Plan boundary. 

Other than improvements in pedestrian and cycle connections, enhancements to biodiversity and environmental conditions and some provision for informal amenity space, there are no plans for any proposed further development of this area. It is envisaged that a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the railway will make it easy for people living and working within North East Cambridge to access the wider countryside whilst the residents within Fen Road will be able to access the new facilities within the development. 

When will the development begin and how long will construction take? 

It is anticipated that residential development will come forward once the Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant is decommissioned, although some homes close to the railway station may be possible earlier. Due to the scale of development proposed, it is anticipated that development will take place across North East Cambridge over the next 20 years and beyond.

How many homes will be built in the area? 

The Proposed Submission Area Action Plan anticipates around 8,350 homes, which would house around 16,000 people. We anticipate that the housing development will start once the wastewater treatment plant has been relocated off-site and that development will take place over 20 years or so. Although some homes close to the railway station may be possible earlier, subject to overcoming existing environmental constraints such as odour and noise from the existing uses around the Area Action Plan area.

Will new homes all be flats? 

The Proposed Submission Area Action Plan proposes that developments should provide a range of different types of homes. These will be mostly 1 and 2 bedroom, but there will be some larger units for families. There will also be a scattering of houses, as well as provision for custom housing. 

Will all new homes be full market price? 

The Proposed Submission Area Action Plan proposes that 40% of all new homes will be affordable housing. These will be a mix of social and council rented homes, intermediate/ key worker housing, and low-cost home ownership including shared ownership. 

The Proposed Submission Area Action Plan also supports self-finish homes, where people can design and build their own choice of internal layouts and finishes within new flats. 

How tall will new buildings be? 

Around the edge of the area they will be 3 to 4 storeys, more centrally they will be 4 to 6 storeys and in the very centre, one or two buildings could be up to 10 storeys high. A 10 storey building would be broadly the same height as Parkside Fire Station. 

The Proposed Submission Area Action Plan proposes that buildings should vary in height to create a lively and interesting streetscape, rather than being a uniform height in each area.

What will happen to existing businesses in the area?

North East Cambridge is a strategically important economic driver for Greater Cambridge and further afield and there is a huge demand for more business space and homes as a result. 

The Proposed Submission Area Action Plan proposes to increase the amount of existing commercial floorspace whilst also re-providing the existing industrial floorspace in Nuffield Road Industrial Estate to land in and around the Cowley Road Industrial Estate. This will protect industrial floorspace which is important in terms of providing local employment opportunities, as well as the types of activities that are required for the functioning of the city and wider area. 

What kind of jobs will there be?

The new district will create space for a range of businesses and industries that create jobs for local people. Jobs will be available through increased employment site capacity at Cambridge Science Park, St John’s Innovation Park, Cambridge Commercial Park, Cowley Road Industrial Estate, Trinity Hall Farm Industrial Estate, Cambridge Business Park and Chesterton Sidings. New opportunities will also be available through the creation of jobs for the public spaces, shops, community services and cultural facilities that are needed.

Will there be any green spaces or play areas that the public can access?  

Yes, there will be series of interlinking green spaces that will be publicly accessible. These will range from large central spaces linear parks to smaller neighbourhood spaces. Through the Area Action Plan, all homes within North East Cambridge will be within a 5 minute walk of an open space and children’s play space.

We are also improving links to surrounding open spaces and the wider countryside through new routes under the A14 and over the railway line towards the River Cam.

The Proposed Submission Area Action Plan proposes 27.6 hectares of new open and play spaces, which meets our standards for informal open space and children’s play space in full, and requires these spaces to be multi-functional and usable throughout the year.

We also want to see private balconies, courtyard gardens, terraces and roof gardens, as well as high quality, safe and green local streets with doorstep play.  

Will there be an impact on Milton Country Park? 

New pedestrian and cycle access to the park is proposed under the A14. This will improve access to the Country Park and existing users can access by more sustainable means.  

Residents of new development within North East Cambridge (NEC) will also want to access and use the Country Park. However, as the Proposed Submission Area Action Plan is now providing more open and children’s play space on-site, there is likely to be less recreational pressure on the Country Park than previously considered. There are also new and improved links to the wider countryside network to the east.

Will there be new schools? 

Up to 3 new primary schools are planned for the site based on the advice from the Local Education Authority. Projections for population in North East Cambridge don’t suggest that a new secondary school will be needed and instead the Proposed Submission Area Action Plan should allow for improving the schools in the existing local areas and connectivity to them by walking and cycling.

How will health services be provided? 

All new housing development will contribute to providing a new Health Hub at North East Cambridge. We have been working with the relevant health organisations and now have a better understanding of future healthcare requirement to serve the new development.

In recent years, there has been considerable change in the way health care services are delivered, with an ongoing shift away from hospital settings into community-based settings, providing services as close to home as possible. 

The shift in where and how healthcare is provided, means we are asked to allow for more flexibility in planning agreements and the detailed planning and procurement of health facilities. One key principle that will be considered is the co-location of non-NHS community, voluntary sector and commercial spaces alongside primary and community care services, if their addition accords with the philosophy of care and can improve affordability/ accessibility. 

How will the design of the area respond to the issues that COVID-19 has highlighted? 

New homes will have to meet good space standards for new housing and private amenity space (balconies, roof/ courtyard gardens and so on) which will ensure that they are not cramped and provide a good quality living environment.

Streets and spaces will be designed for pedestrians and cyclists first, and there will be plenty of green spaces. All homes will be within a 5 minute walk of an open space.

Everything you need, such as shops and services, will also be within a 5 minute walk away from your home. 

When will new schools and other community services be built? 

For any major development which includes new homes, legal planning agreements will ensure that on-site facilities and services are built in a timescale that aligns with the rate that new homes are built out. 

Will new facilities and services be open to residents from neighbouring areas? 

A key objective of the Area Action Plan is to ensure new facilities and services help integrate the new community with established neighbouring communities. 

Publicly accessible facilities, spaces and services will be available to everyone regardless of where they live. 

Will there be shops and other services? 

A new district centre and 4 new local centres are proposed, providing new shops and grocery stores for local people. These centres will have space for a range of shops and local services including pubs and restaurants. The District Square proposed on Cowley Road will be able to accommodate a local market. 

A range of sports and community facilities, including a library, will be provided. We are also planning for an arts hub to create a focal point for new and existing communities.

Won’t this development make traffic congestion in Milton Road and the surrounding area even worse? 

Milton Road is at capacity for long periods. We will require that new development does not add any more traffic to Milton Road. This will be enabled through the provision of substantially improved connections, through walking and cycling routes, and high-quality public transport.  

We will limit the amount of car parking available to discourage car use and spread car parking spaces within the employment areas across the entire development area. We will manage vehicle traffic by refusing additional development where it would add vehicle traffic onto Milton Road. 

How will cars get in and out, will they have to join the already busy Milton Road or is there another route? 

Traffic will continue to be restricted to a limited number of routes within the area, with access provided onto Milton Road through existing junctions. We expect that the design of junctions on Milton Road will be revisited to ensure traffic flows effectively, for example adjusting the traffic signals and lane allocations. 

How wide will the streets, pavements and cycle paths be? 

We think that the area should be designed for low car use and low traffic speeds, to encourage people to walk and cycle and make streets safe for everyone. Most streets will not be through routes for non-essential vehicles and all pavements will be wide enough for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and pushchairs.   

The primary streets will be designed to comply with highway standards and will enable large vehicles such as buses and lorries to pass safely. They will have wide cycle lanes segregated from vehicle traffic, and generous pavements. 

Quieter streets will be more flexible to enable space to be used by people and vehicles at slow speeds – the ‘Woonerf’ (homezone) concept that is so successful in places such as the Netherlands. On-street parking will not be provided, apart from blue badge spaces and delivery bays. 

How will people get from North East Cambridge to: City centre, Addenbrooke's, The River Cam, Milton Country Park, Tesco at Milton, Cambridge North Station, Chesterton and Brownsfield?

The Proposed Submission Area Action Plan makes provision for and benefits from substantially improved connections, including those being prepared by the Greater Cambridge Partnership, through walking and cycling routes, and high-quality public transport within the site, linking routes to a range of destinations across the city and wider area, including: 

  • City centre – cycling via the Chisholm Trail or by bus or cycle along Milton Road, where improvements are being implemented. 
  • Addenbrooke's – cycling via the Chisholm Trail to Cambridge Station and onwards via Hills Road, or by bus. 
  • The River Cam – via a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the railway and through the planned Chesterton Fen. 
  • Milton Country Park and Tesco at Milton – walking and cycling via Jane Coston bridge. 
  • Cambridge North Station – extensive walking and cycling routes within NEC. 
  • Chesterton and Brownsfield – walking and cycling connections are being improved across the Guided Busway and through the existing Cambridge Business Park. 
  • New pedestrian and cycle bridges and underpasses will enable people to cross the A14, railway line and Milton Road. 

Will there be a bus route to the City Centre that prevents needing to drive on Milton Road? 

North East Cambridge is well served by public transport and further improvements are already planned. There will be a variety of routes, including along the Guided Busway and Milton Road, including priority bus lanes at congestion points, to reduce travel time and make the journey time more reliable. 

There could be a route comprising a Cambridge Autonomous Metro (CAM), which will run via tunnels to the City Centre. 

Will there be new vehicle access to the Fen Road area to replace the railway crossing? 

Responsibility for any new crossing sits primarily with Network Rail. The Fen Road crossing lies outside the Area Action Plan area. However, the Councils are concerned about the impacts of the existing and any possible future increased barrier down time on both residents and businesses within this part of Cambridge. Therefore as part of planning the wider Greater Cambridge area through the new Local Plan, the Greater Cambridge Planning Service is seeking to work with Network Rail and the transport authorities to explore the options as part of preparing the draft Local Plan during 2022. 

How will you reduce car use to the levels you are aiming for? 

The area already has good public transport links and we will be working to improve these, so that people commuting into, or out of, North East Cambridge won’t need to drive. There are also improving cycle links to the wider area such as the Waterbeach Greenway and the Chisholm Trail. 

Within the area, everything you need, such as shops and services, will be located within easy walking and cycling distances, reducing the need to use a car.   

There will be a comprehensive network of safe and convenient walking and cycling routes, where priority is provided over vehicular traffic. It will be much easier to walk or cycle than to use a car. 

The number of parking spaces will be limited to discourage car use. Instead there will be provision for car clubs to reduce the need for residents to own their own cars yet have access to a car when the need arises. There will also be parking provision made easily available for those will limited mobility as well access for emergency and delivery vehicles.

Won’t your approach to limiting parking mean that new residents try to park in neighbouring areas instead?

Car parking will be monitored in surrounding areas within 2km of the site. This includes Orchard Park and Milton, as well as the Cambridge wards of East and West Chesterton, King’s Hedges and Abbey, but also potentially further afield. 

If monitoring reveals parking is being displaced from the North East Cambridge area, additional measures to control this will be put in place before further development can take place. 

The County and South Cambridgeshire Councils have been exploring options for the introduction of on-street parking controls and enforcement in South Cambridgeshire as needed. Such controls already exist within Cambridge.