Tag Archives: Built Environment Network

Cambridge and the CaMkOx corridor

By Michael Hardware, Director of Planning and Property

The Cambridge and Peterborough Mayor has been critical of some of the planning authorities in his region for standing against greater growth.

Speaking at the Built Environment Network event in Cambridge on Tuesday evening (25th September), James Palmer said that he had been elected to “work with the willing” to bring forward significant growth to the region, but now certain planning authorities were unwilling to work towards that goal.

Combined authorities have to agree to around 70,000 new homes to meet housing need and sustain the growth of the area, but had only agreed to 50,000. James’ objective was to find another 100,000 on top of the 70,000. Government wants to see 250,000 new homes at the Cambridge end of the CaMkOx corridor, but it is unclear whether that is in addition to or included in the 170,000.

James went on to explain further how his land value capture policy may work. His office could acquire land in areas being considered for growth before planning allocations are made, paying closer to the £8,000 per acre instead of the £1 million paid when an allocation had been made. It is not clear what land owners will think of this idea, although planning can apply good leverage to these kinds of deals. The Mayor was keen to create new garden villages in this way, all linked to larger conurbations such as Cambridge by a new metro. He says these plans may be ambitious, they may be radical, but they are deliverable.

The Mayor was also critical of the new ONS population figures, saying they were inaccurate for Cambridgeshire, indicating growth a good percentage point below the reality: Cambridge alone is currently creating some 7,000 new jobs per year.

In terms of the whole CaMkOx corridor, James said that “not many had come knocking on his door complaining about travelling to Oxford”. That said, he acknowledges the historic difficulties of east-west travel and suggests that the corridor should actually be extended eastwards to Felixstow. Towns like Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds and the A14 corridor generally have huge potential for future growth.

The Mayor says the aim of one million new homes in the corridor is ambitious, but could be achieved. It will, however, require far more direction from Government including the creation of a Minister for the area with the right powers to make it all happen.

It certainly needs strategic overview to coordinate the many district, borough and city councils involved, ensuring the right infrastructure is delivered in the right place at the right time.