Local Plan modifications include more Green Belt loss

After the various local councils’ “Local Plan” went to the government inspector nearly two years ago, you might have thought the “Save The Green Belt” campaign had done what it could. But the government inspection didn’t begin until the autumn that year, and after 5 months came back with some ‘concerns’. Over the summer, the councils attempted to address these, and have come up with some modifications which they expect to put to the planning inspectors in a few weeks’ time. But they’re asking for public opinion, and we have until 25 January to have our say. One of the major modifications involves further erosion of the Green Belt just outside the Queen Edith’s boundary, so you might like to contribute.

Here we go then. The image below shows an impression of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus under construction next to the existing Addenbrookes site (click to enlarge and to see key):

CBC

You’ll see the area “8” is already designated “Phase 2 development land”. This takes the Biomedical Campus down to the boundary of the city (and indeed Queen Edith’s). What the new proposal is suggesting is that the Biomedical Campus is also given a similar sized plot of land the other side of the path, including the bottom right hand corner of the image above. This area is outside the city, in South Cambridgeshire, and can be seen in the map below:

NINEWELLS

Of significant interest is that the new area marked for development borders on the Nine Wells nature reserve, which you can read about here. The city council says: “Nine Wells is a historically important site containing several chalk springs, which form the source of the Hobson Conduit. Previously a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), Nine Wells once contained some rare freshwater invertebrates, however following the drought of 1976 these were lost. Today the chalk watercourses are being managed with the aim of re-creating the conditions favourable for a possible re-introduction of these rare species.”

Local wildlife enthusiast John Meed has recently completed his annual ecological surveys of the fields around the nature reserve. He says that “the area remains extremely valuable for farmland birds of high conservation concern, with exceptional numbers of grey partridge in the autumn, as well as good numbers of skylark, linnet, yellowhammer, corn bunting and yellow wagtail.” You can read his report The value of the green belt south of Addenbrookes, Cambridge to populations of farmland birds here and his report The grey partridges of Nine Wells here.

It’s clear then that the proposed extension of the Biomedical Campus is not good news for wildlife. But according to Aidan Van de Weyer of the South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats, “No one has demonstrated that there is any demand for the development of this land, let alone made a case that benefits of development would outweigh the damage that it would cause.” So if you’re wondering if this really is a commercial extension too far, you might have good reason.

Back to the beginning, and we have the next week or so to comment on this plan. Details on how to have your say are below. If you’ve decided you want to oppose the development, there’s also a petition which has been organised, which you can sign very quickly here. The South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have even made a slideshow video about it:

How to comment on the proposal

There is an online consultation form available; it’s tricky to navigate, but my instructions below should see you through. Alternatively, you can respond via email – the details on how to do so are here. You are commenting on the Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Modifications Consultation Report PM/SC/8/A.

Online form instructions:

1. Go to the South Cambs District Council website here.
2. Click on ‘register now’ (or sign in if you’ve done this sort of thing before) so they know who the comment is from.

comment

3. Now you need to find the relevant place to comment (above). This can be extremely frustrating, but what you’re looking for is section PM/SC/8/A, and if I’ve got this right, you can find it by clicking here. Click on the pencil.
4. Select “Support” if you want them to extend the Biotech Campus, or “Object” if you do not want them to do so.
5. You can now add your comments, and what you would like to happen. The tick boxes below are typical bureaucratic waffle, and I’m not sure what’s really necessary, but I selected ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘yes’; ‘justified’; ‘written representation’; ‘yes’, ‘yes’, ‘yes’. When done, click ‘Submit”.

11 Replies to “Local Plan modifications include more Green Belt loss”

  1. Thank you Chris for drawing this to everyone’s attention. I know a lot of Queen Edith’s residents enjoy the walk out to Nine Wells, so fingers crossed we manage to avoid unnecessary further encroachment into this much-loved green space.

  2. Any encroachment on Green Belt is of concern. However, do we know to what extent this change will enhance the work of medical research and thereby benefit mankind (rather than just business advantage), and which might be deemed to off-set any harm being done?

    1. Hi David, good question! It is worth noting that elements of Phase 1 of the Campus currently being built include elements which do not seem to contribute directly to medical research to benefit mankind, including a hotel and a conference centre. Also, the phrasing on their own website is “If you are involved in innovative biomedical research *or you supply products and services for biomedical research*, we invite you to locate your business on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus” – not sure what degree of guarantee you can take from that.

  3. I visit 9 Wells a couple of times a week, usually when running. In the last month I’ve seen buzzards in the trees on the hospital side of the proposed development, also a barn owl hunting over the field. I can’t see a justification for ripping up this truly green field, and encroaching on 9 Wells. In addition the developments are gradually becoming more visible from Gog Magog Down. Time to call a halt, and think what brownfield is available within the city.
    Thanks Chris for flagging this, and I’d encourage anyone reading to kindly give their input to the council as above.

  4. I am an avid nature lover and I object very strongly regarding ANY loss of green belt erosion. I am fully aware of the need for the development of research into frailites of the human body, but, has this to be at the expense of our natural friends?
    The size of the Addenbrooke’s development is colossal to date ,yet alone future expansion. Remember , Papworth has yet to be included on the site and I cannot see the inclusion in your map issue. Why?

  5. One further thought which occurred to me as I walked the dog over to Nine Wells this morning …

    The City Council is in the position of being both poacher and gamekeeper with regard to Nine Wells: poacher because it is promoting removing sensitive land from the Green Belt; and gamekeeper because it is responsible for the management of the Nine Wells Local Nature Reserve. If any other body was responsible for Nine Wells – the local Wildlife Trust, for example – I imagine they would be working hard at this moment to protect it and its setting from this threat. There would be a campaign, posters, a petition. Yet the City Council, as custodian of the site, is silent.

    I am commenting on this conflict of interest in my response to the consultation. Other people may also think it is relevant …

  6. I am totally opposed to any further allocation of land. The local plan showed the boundary. The Green Belt must be protected. Our precious Local Nature Reserves and countryside amenities must not be sacrificed.. I walk regularly in the Gog Magog area and have watches with some concern the impact of this colossal development on the skyline. We have seen a huge increase in Hotel building in Cambridge in the last two decades. I suggest the proposal to build a Hotel and Conference Centre on this campus be sacrificed if the need is for more research space.

  7. As a local resident, a medical doctor and founder of MAGPAS, I have been involved in the development of Addenbrooke’s Hospital since it was a hole in the ground. I am supportive of the development of the Biomedical Campus for we and future generations’ existence will depend on innovative medical research. But a firm line must be drawn on the perimeter boundaries of the Campus development. It would be a dereliction of our responsibilities to allow further expansion of the Campus in the direction of Nine Wells. This green belt must be regarded as sacrosanct.

  8. There must be a limit on how far the Addenbrookes development impinges into our green belt and the vibrant ecology it supports. Nine wells is a valuable and historic LNR (local Nature Reserve) used by local residents, schools, members and visitors of Addenbrookes. Whilst I fully support the development of the Biomedical Campus for it to progress in its advances such improvements do not necessarily require expansion in ground space. Building this close to the reserve will severely affect the wildlife and ecology it supports- a factor so many of its visitors value. lessons should be learnt from the adverse effects of local housing developments that have already disrupted the nature of surrounding fields.

  9. As a Pharmaceutical Chemist who has been involved in Medical Development and Research all my working life I do appreciate the necessity for developing Biomedical Research facilities. I have however an equally strong feeling for the maintenance of green belt zones such as Nine Wells. This is a significant Local Nature Reserve which must be protected unless there is no satisfactory alternative. To destroy this area without deep thought would be a terrible mistake

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