Inspectors recommend suspension of examination of 'Greater Cambridge' local plans

Joint local plans targeting the delivery of 33,000 new homes in and around Cambridge over the next 16 years need more work to address weaknesses in their evidence base, planning inspectors have warned.

Cambridgeshire: inspectors flag local plans concern
Cambridgeshire: inspectors flag local plans concern

Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council submitted their local plans for examination in March last year, but planning inspectors Laura Graham and Alan Wood have told the authorities that the best course of action would be for the examination to be suspended while a list of issues are addressed.

The plans call for the release of some small green belt sites to meet housing need, but in a letter to the authorities the inspectors said the documents’ methodology for assessing the importance of green belt land was "difficult to understand". 

Graham and Wood also said the authorities had failed to take current National Planning Practice Guidance on market signals into account in assessing housing need, particularly in relation to affordable housing.

They added that there were "significant concerns" about the robustness of the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Sustainability Appraisal processes used, as well as a "significant funding gap in relation to infrastructure provision."

Graham and Wood said the councils’ revisions should also include more detail on alternatives to its preferred development options.

A joint statement from Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council said the inspectors’ decision to recommend the suspension of the examination was "unfortunate".

South Cambridgeshire planning lead Robert Turner said some of the "reassurances" the inspectors were seeking related to policy introduced since the plans were created.

"It is not unexpected that the inspectors have asked us to check our plans to make sure they take account of these," he said.

Cambridge planning lead Kevin Blencowe said the preliminary findings would at least provide a "clear steer" to help ensure the Greater Cambridge local plans were found sound and delivered.

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