30 August 2012, The input of both lay and professional audiences in the formulation of housing and development strategies by Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council will be vital in securing the right balance of quality and quantity when it comes to future growth and economic prosperity in the area.
That's the view of property professionals at consultancy Carter Jonas whose Cambridge office on Hills Road works on behalf of a broad spectrum of clients with conservation and development interests in the area.
The comments come on the back of the formal launch last month (July) of the first phase of consultation by both the City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council on the provision of housing and development growth in both local authority areas for the next twenty years, as well as the ongoing debate about the scope for loosening the Green Belt around the city to allow for more development.
Carter Jonas admits that those with any kind of private or commercial interest in the city and the district will be forced to face some uncomfortable truths in the coming months and years as housing and development strategies are devised and implemented.
Partner, Michael Hudson, explains:
"Growth in Cambridge has and will be restricted due to land supply and this has an impact on employment, housing and the provision of infrastructure, which includes transport.
"The average price of a brand new 3-bedroom house in Cambridge is £375,000 - based on our own new homes commuter index - and the majority of people who work in Cambridge cannot afford to live in Cambridge and so they have to travel in or across or around.
"Many who can afford to live in Cambridge work elsewhere.
"Developers realise their role in meeting a significant chunk of infrastructure and amenity costs but these can't be met in a piecemeal, development-by-development way. The issues and costs are too significant to be dealt with in this way.
"New settlements such as Northstowe and on Waterbeach Barracks or bolt-ons to existing newer settlements such as Cambourne are options for future housing.
"Yet how do we maintain the quality of life for people already living in these areas and those yet to come?"
Michael Hudson and his Carter Jonas colleagues admit there are no easy answers but they are urging development professionals, businesses, interest groups and private individuals alike to overcome the kind of planning fatigue to which it's all too easy to succumb when it comes to growth plans.
He concludes: "The master planning of developments involving stakeholder engagement will hold a lot of weight in this new era of localism, so getting on board sooner rather than later is crucial if those who live and work here are going to achieve the kind of quality of life and quantity of economic prosperity they will be seeking in the coming years."