6.3 Social, community and cultural facilities

Figure 33: Locations for anticipated new social, community and cultural facilities within North East Cambridge

Social and community facilities are a vital part of ensuring that communities' day to day needs are met, as well as fostering wellbeing, social interaction, lifelong learning and cultural exchange. New social infrastructure in North East Cambridge should meet the needs of existing and new communities without duplicating what is already accessible to the area.

We expect development to deliver the range of identified facilities which evidence shows will be needed. These facilities should be multi-functional, accessible to all, and well-integrated with other uses. This policy sets out what facilities we expect to be built and how this is to be achieved.

  • You supported the provision of community and leisure facilities that encourage social inclusion.
  • You suggested that North East Cambridge could provide high-quality public spaces for cultural and community-led events throughout the day and in the evenings. Comments told us that spaces should be multi-functional and accessible to encourage community connectivity with open space to support health and well-being in North East Cambridge.
  • Comments suggested that the inclusion of existing educational facilities surrounding the development e.g. Cambridge Regional College (CRC) would be important and could be utilised as an opportunity for education intensification.
  • Many comments were in support of providing a range of community and cultural spaces in flexible, small and large facilities. Generally, meeting spaces such as local libraries, community meeting points and multi-functional flexible spaces are supported.
  • Comments raised the need to provide a range of education facilities including specialised and essential education with the consideration of a secondary school on-site. Comments also noted that education provision could be met both on and off-site.
  • There was support for including performing arts and creative spaces integrated in mixed-use facilities to meet the needs of community theatre groups.
  • Many comments supported the need for access to health care facilities such as a doctor's surgery or pharmacy. Some comments suggested the need to connect with existing facilities such as the Shirley School and Health Centre on Nuffield Road to ensure coverage of North East Cambridge and surrounding areas.
  • Comments reflected the need to provide formal and informal recreational areas for various ages and abilities to use, with child-friendly facilities positioned in walking distance of the surrounding areas. A youth or community centre was supported to ensure the local community had meeting points and a place for events to take place.
  • Some comments supported the importance of creating accessible spaces without having to travel off-site for these facilities.
  • Comments raised the need to create better links to the existing facilities including Cambridge Regional College Sports Centre and Milton Country Park.
  • Comments highlighted the need for nurseries, schools, health facilities, libraries, community centres and other facilities in order create a thriving community where new provision is safe, attractive and of high-quality, with building designs contributing to the feeling of open space.
How your comments and options have been taken into account
  • The proposed policy facilitates the opportunity to provide a mixed-use flexible site contributing to the sense of community in the area. The Area Action Plan provides a range of facilities including primary services, high-quality public spaces and community facilities that reflect the needs of the local area and encourages social cohesion.
  • The Area Action Plan will provide a variety of services including schools, health centres, libraries, day care and nurseries and community amenityspaces. Facilities will include both formal and informal spaces to allow for flexible use and changing requirements over the long term and support a range of needs including arts and performance, cultural activities and as a place of worship.
  • The policy and wider Area Action Plan encourage accessibility and connectivity to surrounding existing facilities while providing spaces that can function throughout the day and in the evenings.
  • A Cultural Placemaking Strategy has been prepared to provide an understanding of what community facilities are needed to ensure that the emerging and existing communities are supported.

Policy 14: Social, community and cultural Infrastructure

Development proposals for new community, cultural and leisure facilities will be supported where it meets identified local needs.

Proposals should provide high-quality, multi-functional spaces for different ages and abilities which encourage inclusivity and social cohesion. They should seek to take full advantage of opportunities to maximise flexible spaces that are accessible not just in terms of physical distance and location but also in terms of availability. Facilities should be available throughout the day and evening, subject to any relevant amenity concerns, year-round. Definitions of facilities should refer to those provided in the Cambridge Local Plan 2018, Table 8.2 & 8.3 unless otherwise defined in the Area Action Plan. Uses shall be located to complement rather than conflict with neighbouring uses. Subject to any relevant health and quality of life / amenity issues (see Policy 25: Environmental Protection), individual proposals providing community, cultural, sports or leisure facilities that broaden the choice of these uses will be supported, maximising the long-term economic sustainability of multi-use facilities. Proposals for new social, community and cultural infrastructure should make provision for community access.

Required on-site social and community infrastructure provision has been identified as the following:

  • 3 primary schools (inclusive of nursery provision)
  • Safeguarded land for a secondary school (if needed)
  • Visual and performing arts hub (including production studios, gallery/museum and theatre/community conference space)
  • Community room
  • Nursery (pending further engagement with Cambridgeshire County Council)
  • Community garden
  • Library and community centre
  • Health provision (pending further engagement with health providers)
  • Indoor sports and swimming provision (pending further engagement with Sports England and through the updating of the Sport Strategies for both Councils)

Opportunities to co-locate complementary social facilities such as health centres, libraries, day care and nurseries which provide flexible floorspaces should be maximised. These should ensure all buildings make the best use of land and reduce the need for people to have to travel to access a variety of different but related services.

Opportunities should be explored and taken to make sure these new facilities are affordable for existing and new residents and employees.

Proposals for all formal facilities should conform with any relevant sports strategies for the Councils.

Ancillary uses for sports or leisure facilities provided within an employment development will be supported, subject to any relevant amenity issues being addressed. The size of these facilities should be commensurate to the demand generated by the employment development to avoid undermining the long-term economic sustainability of equivalent public facilities. Such spaces should also explore the opportunity to offer these spaces to other users within and outside of normal working hours.

Sports facilities that should be retained on-site include:

  • Cambridge Regional College (Sports Hall & Centre including Badminton Club and outdoor 3G pitch)
  • Revolution Health & Fitness Club (or any future equivalent)
  • The Trinity Centre exhibition and event complex (or any future equivalent)

Proposals for the redevelopment of existing social, community and cultural facilities will be supported where this secures enhanced re-provision on-site or on an alternative site which improves accessibility and the facility's long term financial viability.

The loss of a facility or site that was last in use as a community, sports or leisure facility will only be permitted if it is demonstrated that:

  • There is no longer a need for that facility;
  • There are adequate similar facilities within walking distance that offer equivalent provision; or
  • The activities are incompatible and cannot be made consistent with acceptable living conditions for nearby residents.

Relevant objectives: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Social and community facilities perform an important role by stimulating and supporting social cohesion and interaction. Facilities including dedicated community spaces, libraries, sports and leisure facilities, places of worship and cultural venues create anchors for the community and allow for residents to develop a sense of identity. Community provision can be multi-functional indoor and outdoor space supporting a range of activities for different users and groups. Increasing accessibility to new and existing social and community facilities for local residents, including children and young people, has a positive outcome on their health and wellbeing through arts and cultural experiences.

The neighbourhoods surrounding North East Cambridge already provide a range of services and facilities. The provision of new social, community and cultural facilities within North East Cambridge provides the opportunity to complement existing provision or to make new provision on-site that meets the wider community needs.

The provision of social, community and cultural facilities should consider the opportunity to create a socially and economically inclusive place to live and should assist in reducing inequalities in some of the surrounding areas of North Cambridge. To address the social exclusion of low-income groups, new development should consider how existing and new residents can be supported and encouraged to access new facilities, through their location and design as well as their co-location with other local services. The North East Cambridge Anti-Poverty and Inequality Topic Paper identifies that the provision of accessible amenity spaces will facilitate and encourage social activity, community cohesion and subsequently reduce a range of inequalities.

Facilities that are located in close proximity to the communities they serve and have good accessibility achieve a number of benefits. They reduce the need to travel longer distances, encourage more sustainable modes of transport, and help to engender a sense of ownership of the facilities by the community, which in turn contributes to climate change mitigation, public health and well-being and community cohesion.

The higher density nature of North East Cambridge also means that these facilities will need to be provided in a way that maximises the benefits of the co-location of services and facilities, utility and land efficiency. New provision should also take account of access, not just in terms of distance from the community it serves but also in terms of availability and affordability. To maximise the use of new facilities, they need to be very high quality requiring minimal maintenance, to allow them to be readily available from early in the morning to late at night, all year-round. Consequently, these facilities need to be designed to not cause amenity issues for surrounding occupants when in use.

Education facilities

The education authority for the area have stated in the Education Topic Paper that based on the proposed housing types, tenures and sizes likely to be delivered at North East Cambridge, the development would generate the need for three primary schools. This provision should be located on-site to ensure good accessibility to new residents within North East Cambridge and minimise the need to travel, particularly by private vehicle. Their exact size and format will need to ensure they do not adversely affect neighbouring schools, including any phased development schedule to ensure provision is provided as new residential units are delivered.

The Education Topic Paper also indicates that presently, development at North East Cambridge is not projected to generate sufficient numbers of pupils to warrant the need for a secondary school on-site. Nevertheless, for the proper and long term planning of the area, the Councils consider a cautious approach should be taken and have safeguarded land for a secondary school if it is needed. This is located within Cowley Road Neighbourhood Centre alongside a primary school, as shown on the Spatial Framework. Local secondary school provision will be kept under review throughout the Plan period to determine whether a secondary school at North East Cambridge is required and when it will need to be delivered. Based on the housing trajectory for the Area Action Plan, it is anticipated that if it is required, then it is likely to be delivered towards the end of the Plan period.

Consideration will be given to existing secondary schools and the new secondary school currently planned for north Cambridge at Darwin Green. If it is considered that the safeguarded secondary school site is not required to serve the specific needs of North East Cambridge, then the site will be released for a community led mixed use development having regard to any updated needs assessment. .

Sport and leisure

Larger scale sports and recreational leisure facilities should be considered in appropriate areas of major development as discussed in Policy 8: Open spaces for recreation and sport. Applicants should provide a sports strategy (also known as a facilities development plan) setting out the details of specific facilities to be developed, the rationale and need for these. Additionally, a healthy living and youth play strategy should be provided to set out both formal and informal provision of social infrastructure to allow for residents to live active lifestyles and improve health and wellbeing.

It is important that individual sport and leisure uses will only be permitted where they will not undermine the long-term viability of multi-use schemes providing a similar activity. Corporate users will be allowed to provide some ancillary sports facilities on their own premises where it will not have an adverse impact on equivalent local community provision.

As outlined in Policy 8, new development will be expected to deliver new open spaces and contribute to formal sports provision to support residential development. However, it is recognised that, due to the higher density nature of the site, it may be more feasible to take a more strategic approach for the delivery of large, formal sports facilities such as swimming pool provision, and provide these off-site taking advantage of opportunities provided in alternative locations for area-wide facilities.

As well as providing for new development it is important that existing facilities are retained to support and enable community activity. These facilities make a significant contribution to a community's mental and physical well-being and sense of place. The Councils therefore place great emphasis on their retention. There is currently a golf driving range on-site. Given the low-density nature of the use and the proposed housing densities, it is unlikely that this facility can be realistically re-provided on-site. As part of the area's sports strategy provision, an impact assessment about the loss of the facility should be completed to inform future sports planning, including opportunities to re-provide it in a suitable alternative location. In providing evidence that a facility/site is no longer needed, the guidance in the Cambridge Local Plan, Appendix K should be adhered to.

Alternative off-site locations for expanding sports facilities include North Cambridge Academy. The Indoor Sports Facility Strategy for Greater Cambridge recommended a 3-court sports hall extension to this facility. This would allow both new and existing communities to benefit from a range of accessible activities across the wider northern Greater Cambridge area.

Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire Councils have commissioned a Swimming Pool Delivery Strategy for Greater Cambridge. The study will analyse demand and supply for swimming pools and advise on how best to deliver swimming pool provision across Greater Cambridge including North East Cambridge. It is anticipated that North East Cambridge development may contribute to off-site swimming pool provision which will be accessible to North East Cambridge residents. Open space requirements within North East Cambridge are specifically set out within Policy 8: Open spaces for recreation and sport.

  • Catchment secondary school provision/capacity
  • Monitor the amount of net floorspace for D1 and sui generis uses that fulfil a community or leisure use
  • Additional specific strategies for different types of formal sports may also be updated to monitor their delivery

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 1: The presumption in favour of sustainable development
  • Policy 15: Cambridge Northern Fringe East and new railway Station Area of Major Change
  • Policy 56: Creating successful places
  • Policy 59: Designing landscape and the public realm
  • Policy 68: Open space and recreation provision through new development
  • Policy 74: Education facilities
  • Policy 75: Healthcare facilities
  • Appendix K: Marketing, local needs assessment and viability appraisal

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy SS/4: Cambridge Northern Fringe East
  • Policy HQ/1: Design Principles
  • Policy SC/4: Meeting Community Needs
  • Policy SC/5: Community Healthcare Facility Provision
  • Policy SC/6: Indoor Community Facilities
  • Policy SC/7: Outdoor Play Space, Informal Open Space and New Developments
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