Policy GP/GB: Protection and enhancement of the Cambridge green belt

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

This policy will set the framework for consideration of development proposals in the Green Belt.

Proposed policy direction

National planning policy places great importance on Green Belt and sets out specific requirements for how planning proposals in these areas should be considered. New development in the Green Belt will only be approved in accordance with Green Belt policy in the National Planning Policy Framework.

The Greater Cambridge Local Plan will include the established local purposes of the Cambridge Green Belt, which are to:

  • preserve the unique character of Cambridge as a compact, dynamic city with a thriving historic centre
  • maintain and enhance the quality of its setting
  • prevent communities in the environs of Cambridge from merging into one another and with the city.

Enhancement of the Green Belt, such as for recreation and biodiversity, will also be supported.

Why is this policy needed?

The Cambridge Green Belt plays an important role in maintaining the special qualities of Cambridge as a historic city and the surrounding area.

Whilst national policy sets of the purposes of Green Belt, the Cambridge Green Belt has particular purposes, and was established to protect the historic city and its setting. The 'Cambridge Green Belt Purposes', were established by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Structure Plan (2003) and have been carried forward into subsequent Local Plans, including the most recent 2018 Local Plans.  The Green Belt Assessment (2021) considered that these purposes were still relevant and they were used to assess the potential harm of new development.

National policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework will be applied when considering proposals for development in the Green Belt.  This establishes that some forms of development are not inappropriate in the Green Belt, and where development is inappropriate it should not be approved except in very special circumstances.

National planning policy also requires local planning authorities to plan positively to enhance their beneficial use, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or to improve damaged and derelict land. Such opportunities are being explored, in particular through the Green Infrastructure theme in this consultation.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

Much of the feedback received in the First Conversation in relation to the Green Belt was about whether it should be released for development or not. There was recognition of the value it provides, providing a setting for the historic city, but also providing open space. Whilst many expressed strong views that it should be protected, others highlighted the potential benefits in terms of sustainability of releasing land for development when compared to other locations. This is considered further in the Strategy section of this consultation.

What alternatives did we consider?

No policy– Not considered a reasonable alternative due to the need to provide a clear policy framework specific to the Cambridge Green Belt.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Topic paper 5: Great Places
  • Cambridge Green Belt Assessment (2021)

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018:

  • Policy S/4: Cambridge Green Belt
  • Policy NH/8: Mitigating the Impact of Development in and Adjoining the Green Belt
  • Policy NH/9: Redevelopment of Previously Developed Sites and Infilling in the Green Belt
  • Policy NH/10: Facilities for Recreation in the Green Belt

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 4: The Cambridge Green Belt

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