Go-ahead for 230-home Cambridge scheme on former green belt site

Plans have been approved for a 230-home development on a former green belt site on the edge of Cambridge, in line with a recommendation from planners who advised that the scheme's negative environmental impacts could be mitigated.

Babraham Road (© Alan Murray-Rust - geograph.org.uk/p/4295299)
Babraham Road (© Alan Murray-Rust - geograph.org.uk/p/4295299)

The outline planning application was approved at a meeting of Cambridge City Council's planning committee yesterday (2 September).

The application sought consent for up to 230 homes, up to 400 square metres of flexible floorspace within use classes A1/A3/A4/B1/D1, along with associated landscaping and public realm, car and cycle parking, infrastructure, and other associated works.

A planning report advised that the Newbury Farm site, at Babraham Road, known as GB2 in the council's local plan, covers 8.7 hectares and is located on the south-eastern edge of the city, approximately 4km from the city centre.

The report said that policy 27 of the Cambridge Local Plan "releases the GB1 and GB2 sites from the green belt designation for residential development of up to 430 dwellings, contributing to Cambridge in meeting its housing needs to 2031".

It added that the local plan "sets out GB2's estimated capacity of approximately 230 dwellings and a density of 34 dwellings per hectare, with final capacity depending on detailed assessment and design".

The report noted that calculations using a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) biodiversity metric had concluded that the scheme would result in an onsite biodiversity loss of 18 per cent. This was due to the proposed loss of trees and hedgerows.

However, it added that that the applicant had agreed to mitigate the loss of onsite biodiversity with a financial contribution to achieve an overall 10 per cent net gain from the development off site, which had been accepted by the local Wildlife Trust and the council's nature conservation officer.

The report also advised that the scheme's 40 per cent affordable housing rate was compliant with local planning policy.

Overall, planners concluded that the "proposed commercial and community facilities will support the creation of a strong, vibrant, and healthy community".

"This is along with the provision of up to 230 new homes, of which a minimum of 40 per cent affordable homes will be provided, contributing to addressing the housing need in Cambridge with accessible services and open spaces," the report said.

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