Cambridge Southern Fringe Area Action Plan (February 2008)
PREFACE - THE SOUTH CAMBRIDGESHIRE LDF
WHAT IS A LOCAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK?
1.1 The Local Development Framework (LDF) for South Cambridgeshire will replace the existing Local Plan, which was adopted in February 2004. It is being prepared under the new government legislation for development plans. The LDF comprises a number of Development Plan Documents (DPDs) that set out policies and proposals for the development and use of land in the district. The first DPDs cover the period to 2016. The LDF includes a vision for the future of South Cambridgeshire and objectives and targets, which developments must meet to secure that vision. Once adopted, planning applications and other decisions will be made in accordance with it.
1.2 The Local Development Framework:
- Takes account of national, regional and strategic planning policies;
- Identifies sites for, and requirements of, major development;
- Provides the framework of policies for assessing all planning applications;
- Enables infrastructure and service providers to bring forward their services when needed by new development;
- Enables the public to be fully involved in developing local policies and proposals.
1.3 The Local Development Framework forms part of the Development Plan for South Cambridgeshire. The Development Plan is made up of those plans which have been statutorily adopted and which cover the District. The composition of the current development plan is set out in the Council’s Local Development Scheme. This document sets out how the Council will move from the previous to the current development plans system, and lists which local development documents are to be produced and when.
1.4 The East of England Regional Spatial Strategy will replace the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Structure Plan 2003 (generally referred to in this document as the Structure Plan) when it is published in its final form by the Secretary of State. A number of Structure Plan policies will be ‘saved’, and remain valid until at least 28 September 2007, under the transitional provisions of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. Whilst under the terms of the new plan making system the LDF must be in general conformity with RPG6, in the circumstances of the Cambridge Area it is also appropriate and consistent for the LDF to have regard to the policy requirements of the Structure Plan.
1.5 South Cambridgeshire is located centrally in the East of England region at the crossroads of the M11 / A14 roads and with direct rail access to London and to Stansted Airport. It is a largely rural district, which surrounds the city of Cambridge and comprises over 100 villages, none currently larger than 8,000 persons. It is surrounded by a ring of market towns just beyond its borders, which are generally 10–15 miles from Cambridge. Together, Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and the Market Towns form the Cambridge Sub-Region. South Cambridgeshire has long been a fast growing district and in 2003 had a population of over 130,000 persons (bigger than Cambridge itself) and has become home to many of the clusters of high technology research and development in the Cambridge Sub-Region.
1.6 The regional context is set out in the Regional Planning Guidance for East Anglia (RPG6) which was approved in November 2000. It aims to focus a higher proportion of Cambridgeshire’s growth into the Cambridge Sub-Region and proposes a sequential approach to the planning of development, with much of the development concentrated into and on the edge of Cambridge (subject to a review of the Cambridge Green Belt), including development in South Cambridgeshire, and into a new town beyond the outer boundary of the Green Belt.
1.7 The LDF will enable the step change in growth required in the Regional Spatial Strategy and Structure Plan, particularly in the rate of housing development. South Cambridgeshire will be experiencing an almost 40% increase in housing development between 1999 and 2016. In the past much of the housing development in the Cambridge area has been directed to the villages and towns beyond the city. Whilst there has been employment growth elsewhere, Cambridge has remained the dominant centre of employment. As demand has outstripped the supply of housing close to Cambridge, people have located further from Cambridge increasing commuter flows through the District. Most of the new development in the District (on sites not yet committed) will in future take place on the edge of Cambridge and in a new town near to Longstanton and Oakington, named Northstowe.
1.8 The national context is set out in Planning Policy Statements (the replacement to Planning Policy Guidance Notes), Circulars and other advice from Government. Whilst some of those national policies will require local interpretation, a great number do not. The Local Development Framework will not repeat that advice which must also be taken into account in determining planning applications.
1.9 The Local Development Framework will be a key mechanism for delivering the South Cambridgeshire Community Strategy. All local authorities are required by the Local Government Act 2000 to "prepare a community strategy for promoting the economic, environmental and social well-being of their areas and contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in the UK.”
1.10 The Strategy is the result of a partnership between the District and County Councils, working with the health services, the police, parish councils, the business and voluntary sectors. These groups have come together in the South Cambridgeshire Strategic Partnership to produce the Community Strategy. The Local Strategic Partnership will continue to develop a joint approach to the important issues, whenever possible, and will oversee the delivery of the Strategy. The Local Development Framework will be important in securing those parts of the Community Strategy which involve the development, or use of land and buildings.
1.11 The Community Strategy's vision is split into 6 aims as set out below:
- ACTIVE, SAFE AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES where residents can play a full part in community life, with a structure of thriving voluntary and community organisations.
- BUILDING SUCCESSFUL NEW COMMUNITIES where large-scale developments have created attractive places with their own identity, supported by a range of quality services.
- A PROSPEROUS DISTRICT where jobs, skills and learning are developed and sustained to benefit everyone.
- GOOD ACCESS TO SERVICES for all sections of the community, including older people, children and families, through better transport links and improved local services.
- QUALITY HOMES FOR ALL with new affordable homes developed to meet local needs and assistance provided for those needing help.
- A HIGH QUALITY ENVIRONMENT with better access to a more biodiverse countryside, which is protected and improved, and sustainable measures implemented, minimising waste and tackling climate change.
1.12 The Community Strategy is reviewed regularly and includes actions for the following 3-year period, which focus on meeting key aspects of the vision taking priority at the time and reflecting potential opportunities. Some of these will relate to district wide policies contained in the LDF, including issues such as affordable housing. Others will relate to the major developments in the district, which are addressed in planning terms in Area Action Plans, and which are a key priority for many of the stakeholders and service providers involved in the Local Strategic Partnership.
RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER PLANS AND STRATEGIES
1.13 The Council has consulted all key stakeholders at three stages in the preparation of the DPDs and it is for them to advise the Council how their own strategies affect the South Cambs LDF. Where such information has been received, this has been taken into account in preparing the DPDs. Where organisations did not advise the Council of their delivery plans, it will be for Cambridgeshire Horizons, as the delivery vehicle for the Cambridge Sub-Region, to draw together the delivery plans for all aspects of the major developments as part of the negotiations on the planning obligations agreements.
CORNERSTONE OF SUSTAINABILITY
1.14 The LDF aims to improve the overall quality of life for residents of South Cambridgeshire in a way, which will also benefit future generations. Taking a sustainable approach to economic, social and environmental issues will be at the heart of the plan and will be closely related to the national strategy for sustainable development which has four objectives:
- Social progress, which recognises the needs of everyone;
- Effective protection and enhancement of the environment;
- Prudent use of natural resources; and
- Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.
1.15 European Directive 2001/42/EC requires an ‘Environmental Assessment’ of plans and programmes prepared by public authorities that are likely to have a significant effect upon the environment. This process is commonly known as ‘Strategic Environmental Assessment’ (SEA), and covers relevant plans and programmes whose formal preparation began after 21 July 2004. Among the documents to which this requirement will apply are land use plans that cover a wide area, such as the LDF.
1.16 The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires a Sustainability Appraisal (SA) of all emerging Development Plan Documents and Supplementary Planning Documents. As the draft guidance explaining this requirement makes clear, SA and SEA are similar processes that involve a comparable series of steps. If there is a difference between them, it lies in the fact that SEA focuses on environmental effects whereas SA is concerned with the full range of environmental, social and economic matters.
1.17 A Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report has been prepared, and been the subject of public participation. This highlights economic, social and environmental issues relevant to the area, and objectives to test the LDF against. A Sustainability Report, incorporating an ‘Environmental Report’ has been prepared to accompany each DPD.
1.18 A further requirement comes from the Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC), which requires Assessment of plans or projects affecting Natura 2000 sites. Natura 2000 is a Europe-wide network of sites of international importance for nature conservation. Ramsar sites support internationally important wetland habitats, and are also included in the Assessment in line with Government policy in PPS9. The DPD has been subject to a Screening Assessment, which identifies the likely impacts of the DPD on a Natura 2000 site or Ramsar site, either alone or in combination with other projects or plans, and considers whether these impacts are likely to be significant. The sites assessed have been agreed with Natural England and include those within and outside the district where assessment is required because of their proximity to South Cambridgeshire and / or the nature of their conservation interest. The Assessment objectively concluded that the DPD is not likely to have any significant effects on any Natura 2000 or Ramsar sites. There is therefore no requirement to proceed to the next stage of an Appropriate Assessment.
The Cambridge Southern Fringe AAP has been prepared following a programme of consultation and public participation. Consultation with the community on the future planning of South Cambridgeshire began at the end of 2001 with the publication of an Issues Report. In April 2004 the Council carried out an initial consultation with statutory bodies, as required under the new system of plan making, to ensure that it was aware at an early stage of any programmes and plans that would affect the LDF. This was followed in October 2004 by consultation on issues and options, which gave people the opportunity to comment on how the local planning authority should approach the preparation of a particular development plan document. The Issues and Options Reports focused on key issues for the DPDs and issues where there were choices to be made on the policy direction. A Preferred Options Report (pre-submission draft) of the DPD was published in June 2005 and was subject to a six-week long public participation period, allowing people to make representations to be considered by the Council.
The DPD was then submitted to the Secretary of State in January 2006, and made available for a further six-week consultation period. Representations received were considered at an independent Examination, conducted by Inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State to consider the “soundness” of the plan. The independent Inspector subsequently produced a report, which was binding on the Council. Further information on the plan preparation process can be found on the Council's website: www.scambs.gov.uk.
A Glossary of Technical and Other Terms is to be found at the back of this document.