Public Art Supplementary Planning Document (January 2009)

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1.1 This Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for Public Art prepared by South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) forms part of the Local Development Framework (LDF). It sets out the Council’s strategy to encourage the provision of Public Art within the district where it would be appropriate and it advises developers, parishes and other agencies on its implementation across the district.

1.2 The term Public Art refers to works of art in any media, which contributes to the identity, understanding, appreciation, and enhancement of public places.  Public Art can promote a sense of place and pleasure for example by evoking local history, be inspiring and / or thought provoking. In South Cambridgeshire Public Art has a role to play in neighbourhood and community development.

1.3 The SPD supports policies in the Development Control Policies Development Plan Document (DPD) adopted in July 2007 and in Area Action Plans for a number of growth areas around Cambridge City and for the new settlement of Northstowe.  The SPD will be used in the determination of planning applications.

1.4 The SPD defines what is meant by Public Art within South Cambridgeshire.  The Council encourages all developers seeking planning permission for their proposals (whether comprising new build, rehabilitation, restoration, or external landscape work), to consider how Public Art may be integrated within their schemes.  The Council is aware of the competing demands made upon developers for funding for infrastructure relating to development schemes and will take these viability considerations into account when discussing with developers the nature / scale of the Public Art element that could be included in any development scheme.


1.5 The objective of this SPD is to assist achievement of the Development Control Policies DPD objective SF/d: To encourage the provision of Public Art in new development.

1.6 Specific objectives for this SPD are as follows:
  • To promote the benefits of Public Art in new developments where appropriate, in order to enhance the built or natural environment and the quality of life of residents and visitors.

  • Provide practical guidance to developers about how Public Art can be included when a planning application is submitted particularly how it should be referenced / incorporated within Design and Access statements.

  • Assist applicants for planning permission by informing them about what contributions may be encouraged and why and how provision and payments could be made.

  • To ensure that local communities are fully engaged in decisions on Public Art provision in local developments.

  • Where Public Art is secured, proposals include costed maintenance schedules to ensure continuing community benefit.


1.7 There are key documents at national, regional and sub-regional levels that support the provision of Public Art in new developments.  These are referenced in detail in Appendix 4.

1.8 At a national level Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing (PPS3) states that “...Good design is fundamental to the development of high quality new housing, which contributes to the creation of sustainable, mixed communities." (paragraph 12) PPS3 also proposes that Local Planning Authorities should aim at "....Creating places, streets and spaces which meet the needs of people, are visually attractive, safe, accessible, functional, inclusive, have their own distinctive identity and maintain and improve local character." (paragraph 14) South Cambridgeshire District Council considers that the inclusion of Public Art within new developments will assist in creating this distinctive nature.

1.9 Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development states that “Community involvement is an essential element in delivering sustainable development and creating sustainable and safe communities. In developing the vision for their areas, planning authorities should ensure that communities are able to contribute to ideas about how that vision can be achieved, have the opportunity to participate in the process of drawing up the vision, strategy and specific plan policies, and to be involved in development proposals.” (Key Principle (vi) paragraph 13). South Cambridgeshire District Council believe that the inclusion of Public Art in a scheme should assist the involvement of the community and help in creating and delivering a shared vision as well as supporting community development and cohesion.

1.10 At a sub-regional level Cambridgeshire Horizons1 has produced an Arts and Culture Strategy2 as part of their Quality of Life programme. Cambridgeshire Horizons worked with a range of partners to develop this strategy that ensures that arts and cultural facilities are improved by opportunities created by planned new development.  This strategy places art in the public places within the wider context of cultural infrastructure for sustainable communities. 

1.11 As a consequence of the sub-regional Arts and Cultural Strategy, the Arts Forum for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough approved in 2007 a Public Art implementation framework3 that seeks to promote:

  • Artistic activity and the creation of new and original artwork of the highest standard.

  • A high quality and well-designed public places, valued by those who live and work in or visit each locality.

  • Participation and involvement in artistic activity that addresses inclusion, creativity, diversity and innovation.


1.12 The benefits of Public Art relate to social, economic, environmental and cultural factors.  Public Art can:

  • Actively contribute to integrating village groups and neighbourhoods, promoting community cohesion through socially engaged arts activity.

  • Create unique images that, as symbols, can be used to promote places, generating pride of place and a sense of local identity and distinctiveness.

  • Enhance the fundamental principles of urban design, to better improve the quality of the built environment and create distinction and character.


1.13        South Cambridgeshire District Council will see the largest amount of housing and employment growth in the East of England Region.  The population of South Cambridgeshire is estimated to grow from 137,000 (2005 figures) to 193,350 by 2021.  The scale of the challenge facing the Council is to embrace this new population, and to adapt to the changes that housing and commercial growth will bring.  The Council has prepared a LDF to guide this development. 

Area Action Plans

1.14 Four of the areas where growth is planned have Area Action Plans, which form part of the LDF, and because of the scale of development proposed within these Plans there are policies that Public Art Strategies should be prepared. For clarity in this document the terms 'Public Art Plan' and 'Public Art Strategy' are interchangeable. The provision of Public Art in these growth areas will help to provide a sense of place and distinctiveness. 

The areas are:

  • Northstowe Area Action Plan (adopted July 2007)

  • Cambridge East AAP – prepared jointly with Cambridge City Council (adopted February 2008)

  • Cambridge Southern Fringe AAP (adopted February 2008)

  • North-West Cambridge AAP – prepared jointly with Cambridge City Council (Submission – May 2008)

Development Control Policies DPD

1.15 The following policy setting out the requirements for Public Art within South Cambridgeshire is included in the Development Control Policies DPD:

POLICY SF/6 Public Art and New Development

  1. In determining planning applications the District Council will encourage the provision or commissioning of publicly accessible art, craft and design works.

  2. The Public Art policy will apply to:

    1. Residential developments comprising 10 or more dwellings; and

    2. Other developments where the floor area to be built is 1,000m2 gross or more, including office, manufacturing, warehousing and retail developments.

  3. On smaller developments, developers will be encouraged to include Public Art within their schemes as a means of enhancing the quality of their development.

  4. Contributions and commuted maintenance sums for up to 10 years will be required, to include the cost of decommissioning where appropriate.

1 Cambridgeshire Horizons is a non-profit making company set up by the Cambridgeshire Local Authorities to drive forward the development of new communities and infrastructure in the Cambridge Sub-region, in accordance with the approved Structure Plan.2
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