Policy J/PB: Protecting existing business space

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

This policy will state what existing business space will be protected and how business space and employment land can be changed to other uses.

Proposed policy direction

The Local Plan will seek to protect employment land from loss to other uses in Greater Cambridge, including specific protection for industrial sites in Cambridge. Where loss is proposed, it will need to be justified by evidence that it is no longer needed (by being effectively marketed, with the plan setting out what this would entail).

The following industrial sites in Cambridge will be protected from development that would result in the loss of employment floorspace or land.

  • Cheddars Lane, Cambridge
  • Beadle Industrial Estate, Ditton Walk, Abbey
  • Henley Road and Coldham’s Road, Cambridge
  • Mercers Row Industrial Estate (including Swanns Road), Abbey
  • North of Coldham's Lane, Cambridge (including Church End Industrial Estate and College Business Park).
  • King’s Hedges Road – Kirkwood Road / Kilmaine Estate, King’s Hedges
  • Ronald Rolph Court, Ditton Walk, Abbey
  • Coldham's Lane Business Park, Cambridge
  • Barnwell Business Park, Abbey

Why is this policy needed?

Employment sites and business premises in Greater Cambridge are under pressure for redevelopment from residential and other uses. There is a particular pressure on industrial land in Cambridge with reduced space and rising land values pushing industrial uses out of the city (or out of business). There is also pressure on employment land in villages.

The uncontrolled loss of employment land reduces the sustainability of local communities. Less local employment opportunities can reduce the vibrancy of communities, and mean people have to travel further for work, or to access local services.

For Cambridge, where the City Council’s Anti-Poverty Strategy (2020-2023) evidences a significant proportion of residents receiving low levels of pay and/or claiming benefits, protecting existing industrial sites is considered a vital part of developing a more inclusive economy. Due to their importance key areas will be specifically identified on the policies map.

It would be unreasonable to protect employment sites in perpetuity, but we can seek to ensure that alternative employment opportunities have been explored before sites are lost.

The policy will operate within the limits of the uses classes and permitted development rights, which allow certain changes of use to take place without the need for planning permission.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

In our First Conversation consultation when we asked whether you think we should be protecting existing business and industrial space, there was support to protect employment land in rural areas and sustainable locations, where it meets local needs and reduces commuting distances and the associated impacts on the environment. The need to protect sites for specific purposes such as minerals and waste uses was also referenced.

A number of responses raised the need to assess existing employment space to review performance against proposed carbon reduction measures in the Plan and to determine how essential it is for certain businesses to be in Cambridge and the most appropriate locations to continue employment uses.

We received differing views on whether require appropriate marketing of employment sites before change of use can be allowed. There was also a general objection to the arbitrary protection of employment space.

There were also responses that gave examples of where employment land should not be protected, for example, uses that are now inappropriate for the local area due to noise and the use of the local road network by HGVs, land that is under-utilised and could be used for residential development.

What alternatives did we consider?

No policy, allow employment land to be changed to other uses without restriction – This is not the preferred approach, as it is considered there is to the need to protect employment sites.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy E/14: Loss of Employment Land to Non Employment Use

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 41: Protection of business space

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