What will this policy do?
Identify specific locations as Opportunity Areas that would benefit from a holistic approach to any future development that comes forward, to provide policy guidance for development that also improves public transport access and infrastructure delivery, and seeks improvements to the public realm.
Proposed policy direction
Opportunity Areas provide opportunities to enable development that can reinforce and create character and identity in key corridors and centres of the city, often through associated public realm improvements. Opportunity Areas embrace mixed uses and multiple functions, which provides opportunities and challenges, and requires a policy framework to promote and guide overall change during the life of the plan.
Given the opportunity nature of these sites they do not include any particular levels of development and are not counted towards meeting our needs.
New Opportunity Areas
S/OA/NR Newmarket Road Retail Park
S/OA/BC Beehive Centre
Two new Opportunity Areas are proposed that are areas of low density, large-scale retail uses with extensive surface car parking. This does not make very good use of an expansive area of land in the heart of Cambridge. With changes in retailing and the increase in online shopping, when taken together with the Local Plan themes of addressing climate change and creating Great Places, these sites have the potential to provide a significant opportunity for reimagining this area close to the heart of Cambridge. There are land contamination issues at the Newmarket Road Retail Park that will need to be explored carefully as part of any site intensification proposals. These opportunities can be explored further as the plan progresses, including having regard to emerging evidence about future retail needs to inform the next draft plan stage.
S/OA/AS Abbey Stadium
The Abbey Stadium is home to Cambridge United Football Club. The club is keen to improve its facilities to raise its profile as a commercial sporting enterprise. It could achieve this aim by either staying on site and securing enabling development on site alongside an enhanced stadium facility or by relocating elsewhere and redeveloping the existing site for new homes. The draft plan will provide guidance for this site for both possibilities.
S/OA/CH Shire Hall/Castle Park
With the relocation of Cambridgeshire County Council to new offices at Alconbury, the Shire Hall building and the adjacent castle mound park provide an opportunity for suitable new uses for these important heritage assets. The draft plan will consider planning guidance for this central site.
Continuing existing Opportunity Areas
It is proposed to continue to identify the following areas:
Why is this policy needed?
In these Opportunity Areas policy guidance is provided so that the opportunities and challenges are identified and responded to, to make the best use of these parts of Cambridge, which respond to the character of the area and provide uses and spaces that meet the needs of people.
It is considered that the new Local Plan should continue to provide planning guidance in the areas proposed to be carried forward from the 2018 Cambridge Local Plan, and identify any new areas which would benefit from this approach. The Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment identified some areas where change could happen in the future as a result of changing retail needs or redevelopment opportunities becoming available. This has informed the identification of new areas.
In proposing to carry forward the existing opportunity areas identified some comments have been made on the extent of these areas, and the site boundaries will be considered as we prepare the draft plan.
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 it is considered that this would not provide sufficient guidance for planning in important areas of the city.
Supporting evidence studies and topic papers
- Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Topic paper 1: Strategy
- Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (2021) - Appendix Urban Development Opportunity Area
Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans
Cambridge Local Plan 2018
- Policy 14: Areas of Major Change and Opportunity Areas – general principles
- Policy 22: Mitcham’s Corner Opportunity Area
- Policy 23: Eastern Gate Opportunity Area
- Policy 24: Mill Road Opportunity Area
- Policy 25: Cambridge Railway Station, Hills Road Corridor to the City Centre Opportunity Area
- Policy 26: Old Press/Mill Lane Opportunity Area
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