Policy S/WC: West Cambridge

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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Figure 16: Map showing boundary of proposed West Cambridge policy area
Figure 16: Map showing boundary of proposed West Cambridge policy area

What will this policy do?

Continue to provide a policy for future development of the West Cambridge site, refined to better reflect the themes of the new Local Plan, including providing an element of flexibility to include some new homes where it would support the vibrancy of the campus.

Proposed policy direction

The University through the recent resolution to grant planning permission has ambitions for the West Cambridge Area to become an “innovation district.” The proposed allocation would therefore carry forward the allocation of the West Cambridge site from the 2018 Local Plan, to support the site in meeting the needs of the University, for uses related to education, associated sui generis research, academic research, commercial research, and development of products or processes, where it will support knowledge transfer and/or open innovation from these for the wider Cambridgeshire and UK economy.

We propose to refine the policy to emphasise that future development of the site should seek a comprehensive approach to the area, that responds to the location, and the opportunities to create a thriving environment for people, as well as playing a significant role supporting the high technology economy of Cambridge. It is important to provide a mix of complementary uses to go with the work buildings if it is to operate as a successful campus. As well as provision of high quality walking and cycling connections, development should maximise the opportunity provided by public transport improvements such as the proposed Greater Cambridge Partnership Cambourne to Cambridge scheme. 

It is also proposed to add flexibility to the policy, to allow an element of residential, focused on affordable housing and key workers, where it would support making the campus to become a more vibrant employment location, and not harm employment availability.

The potential for a single policy that looks at this site together with the University’s North West Cambridge site, to ensure the benefits of this significant area of innovation are maximised, will be considered as part of preparing the draft plan.

Why is this policy needed?

The West Cambridge site is operated by the University of Cambridge, and is home to a range of academic, research and other uses. The site is undergoing major change, and developing its role as a development cluster for University science and technology research, knowledge transfer and open innovation.

Outline planning permission was approved in July 2021 (subject to agreeing a Section 106 agreement) providing a long-term vision and strategy for the comprehensive development of the site, and creation of the West Cambridge Innovation District.  This provides significant opportunities for academic and commercial research, along with a range of other supporting facilities.

A policy will be needed in the new Local Plan to set out what will be expected of future development proposals as the site evolves during the plan period.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

There was no specific consultation on this issue in the First Conversation consultation.

What alternatives did we consider?

No Policy – Rejected as this would not provide a context for the future evolution of the site, and would fail to ensure the site is available to contribute to the University’s and the City’s future needs or provide a policy framework for planning decisions.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Topic paper 1: Strategy

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 14: Areas of Major Change and Opportunity Areas – general principles
  • Policy 19: West Cambridge Area of Major Change
  • M13: West Cambridge Site

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