Policy J/RW: Enabling remote working

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

This policy will set out how proposals for remote working hubs and working at home should be considered.

Proposed policy direction

Policies will support the creation of local employment hubs, outlining acceptable types, scale and location of development.

They will also support for partial conversion, extension or change of use of residential dwellings to enable the residents to work at or from part of the dwelling, subject to criteria addressing, for example, the impacts on neighbours of traffic, noise and disturbance and the character and appearance of the proposals.

Why is this policy needed?

Whilst there has been trend towards workers working all or part of their working week from home over recent years, the COVID-19 Pandemic has dramatically accelerated this shift. The post-pandemic future remains uncertain; however, surveys suggest that many companies’ workers will look to continue some level of home-working.

Many workers welcome this change, valuing the reduction in the time and money spent commuting and the promise of flexibility in future working patterns. However, for others there can be difficulties in working at home, including lack of space, difficulties with childcare and the impacts on mental health of solitary working.

For firms too, particularly those in the knowledge-based economy, there can be downsides to this remote working with the loss of human contact reducing the exchange of ideas and innovation associated with day-to-day contact and networking.

The Local Plan could offer support to home adaptations that may be needed (although many of these changes may already fall under Permitted Development).

Work hubs would provide shared space for workers located within buildings in local neighbourhoods. Appropriate size would generally be dependent on the size of the local community. In villages they would be smaller in scale but in cities and towns they could be considerably larger.

Community work hubs could provide an accessible, sustainable solution for workers. They could also support the development and growth of new enterprises not only through the exchange of knowledge with peers but also by providing a focus for business support provision. Policy is needed to encourage and enable this type of facility.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

In our First Conversation consultation we had a number of responses that request policies that support flexible and home working in order to respond to changing work patterns. The need to provide dwellings with flexible spaces and good broadband services was highlighted as well as cafes and co-working spaces in close proximity to homes.

What alternatives did we consider?

No policy – This is not the preferred approach, as the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the need to support flexible working arrangements.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy H/18: Working at Home

Cambridge Local Plan 2018 - None

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