Policy WS/MU: Meanwhile uses during long term redevelopments

What will this policy do?

This policy will set out when and how meanwhile uses should be provided before and during development of major sites.

Proposed policy direction

This policy will seek meanwhile uses on vacant sites or in underused buildings as part of the phased development of major development sites and within other vacant sites and premises where a longer-term use is still being resolved. These meanwhile uses will support the local community and contribute to the vibrancy of the area as new communities develop.

Why is this policy needed?

A meanwhile use can be described as a situation where a site or building is used for a duration of time before it is turned into a more permanent end state, taking advantage of a short window of opportunity. Examples of meanwhile uses include pop-up shops and cafes, creative workspace and exhibitions, short-term office units, temporary community meeting places and facilities and temporary housing.

Some strategic developments can take years to complete. Providing temporary spaces, buildings and uses during the initial stages of the development can help provide opportunities for active uses throughout the redevelopment helping to develop a sense of community early on and helping the community to avoid 'new towns blues'.

can also provide temporary uses in vacant and underused buildings while the longer use of these sites is still being resolved. For example, the use of vacant high street units for pop-up shops or cultural or creative uses can help to retain vitality and vibrancy in shopping areas while a longer-term use is being sought.

Meanwhile spaces can support early-stage businesses and local businesses requiring affordable space, such as those in the creative sector, to take the next step in the development of their businesses. They can also provide a pipeline of businesses that could then locate to permanent spaces within the development.

As a recent example locally, it is currently proposed to retain some of the existing buildings at the Waterbeach Barrack site for temporary uses while other parts of the development at Waterbeach New Town are being built out.

If we take this approach forward, we will need to consider how we encourage meanwhile uses on major sites and other vacant sites and premises across the area. We could, for example, seek simply to encourage them or, require feasibility studies and, if feasible, meanwhile strategies to be submitted for phased major developments.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

Some of the key feedback received during the First Conversation consultation included: 

  • Ensure that infrastructure, services and facilities are delivered as part of new developments and that temporary or smaller infrastructure should be provided to ensure there is infrastructure in place on occupation. 

  • Provide spaces for the community as part of new developments. 

  • It is important to build in community meeting places where people who might not normally have an opportunity to meet each other can do. 

What alternatives did we consider?

1. No policy – This alternative is not the preferred approach due to the need to help to develop a sense of community early on in major new developments to help to avoid 'new town blues', and the opportunities that meanwhile uses on other sites could provide.

2. Having a policy which only relates to phased development on major sites - This alternative is not the preferred approach as it would not take advantage of the opportunities provided by vacant sites.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • : Topic paper 4: Wellbeing and Social Inclusion  

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire 2018 

  • Policy SC/4: Meeting Community Needs 

Cambridge Local Plan 2018 

  • Policy 41: Protection of Business Space 

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