Agenda and draft minutes

Extraordinary meeting (Local Plan), Scrutiny and Overview Committee - Tuesday, 21 September 2021 4.30 p.m.

Venue: Council Chamber - South Cambs Hall. View directions


No. Item


Chair's announcements


In the absence of Councillor Grenville Chamberlain, Councillor Judith Rippeth took the chair and made several brief housekeeping announcements.


By affirmation, committee members appointed Cllr Sarah Cheung Johnson as Vice-Chair of the meeting.



To receive apologies for absence from committee members. 


Councillors Grenville Chamberlain and Sally Ann Hart sent apologies for absence. Councillor Henry Batchelor substituted for Councillor Hart.


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Public questions


There were two public questions.


Question from Daniel Fulton


The audio feed of the council’s planning committee meeting on 8 September terminated abruptly just as a member of the public began to accuse the council of serious malfeasance in regards to the issue under consideration. 


After several delays, the council eventually stated that it was unable to restore functionality to the audio system, and the committee decided to abandon the meeting.


Certainly, one would normally assume that the occurrence of the apparent audio malfunction at the very moment that serious allegations of wrongdoing were being made was merely coincidental.


However, since that time, the council has declined to provide any contemporaneous evidence about the purported audio fault to members of the public—no software error codes or error logs and no contemporaneous emails or other documentation. The council has not even provided a vague description of the type of system being used to broadcast the council’s meeting—a system that we understand was obtained by the council earlier this year at considerable expense. All that has been provided is a technical note from the council’s A/V supplier, which was produced after the fact and doesn’t actually offer any clarity as to the cause of the audio malfunction.


If the council were to provide contemporaneous evidence as to the specific nature of the audio fault (and if events did actually happen as the council has described them), then members of the public could verify that the termination of the audio feed during the meeting was due to a technical fault, allaying the concerns of those affected by the abandoned meeting.


To provide some reassurance to the public, could the council please state if it has instructed any officer not to provide any evidence or information relating to the audio/video system or the events that transpired on 8 September to any party or to delay providing any evidence or information to any party?


Answer on behalf of South Cambridgeshire District Council


As you know, you have contacted several officers at the council about this matter and been provided with a written explanation on the 10 September as to the underlying cause about the technical failure.  You then subsequently rang and spoke directly with the external engineers last week who provided verbal confirmation of the running order of the faults and the support they provided.”


There was no supplementary question.


Question from Phil Grant


The proposed direction for Policy S/DS Development Strategy, set out in First Proposals document, correctly places significant weight on aligning new development with investment in public transport. The Transport Strategy on page 42 confirms “Our proposed strategy is heavily informed by the location of existing and committed public transport schemes.”


However, a comparison of Figure 6 showing proposed sites for inclusion in the Plan, and Figure 11 showing existing and proposed major transport projects, illustrates that the spatial strategy is disproportionately reliant on the delivery of significant levels of new major and complex transport infrastructure projects such as the Cambourne to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Preferred Options (Regulation 18) - For consultation pdf icon PDF 194 KB

Additional documents:


The Scrutiny and Overview Committee received a presentation from officers, and considered a report seeking its comments on the proposed content of, and the participation and communication strategy for, the next formal round of consultation for the Greater Cambridge Local Plan, being prepared jointly with Cambridge City Council, and a mirror of this report was also being considered by the City Council.


The Committee considered the report under five themed headings, namely:


  • Housing and jobs numbers, and overall strategy
  • Site allocations
  • Green Belt
  • Environmental impacts
  • Infrastructure implications


Members accepted though that these categories were for ease of process only and were not rigid or stand-alone. The Scrutiny and Overview Committee supported the recommendations in the officers’ report and made the following comments in response to the First Proposals and supporting documents.


Councillor Dr. Tumi Hawkins was in attendance.


Homes and jobs numbers and overall strategy


Committee members


·       noted the uncertainties and therefore judgement involved in identifying how many jobs had actually been provided and in forecasting future jobs growth.

·       queried the approach taken in identifying the most likely forecast, noting the relative differences for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire.

·       asked whether different household sizes, including trends over time, had been taken into account.

  • asked if COVID impacts had been taken into account when gathering housing needs and employment evidence.
  • Regarding the Sustainability Appraisal of growth options, one member queried why the medium growth scenario has been preferred, given that it was not the best performing of the identified growth options.
  • queried whether there was a risk of the Council providing more houses than were needed bearing in mind the buffer that had been applied to the housing need figure informing the number of homes being planned for.
  • asked that it be made explicit how many homes were being proposed in the administrative districts of Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire, while recognising that it would be a Greater Cambridge Local Plan.
  • queried the distribution of allocations between Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire when compared with the distribution of the identified housing need.
  • asked for further clarity about the number of homes included in the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018, and the homes permitted in addition to this which were now included in the committed supply.
  • Queried the criteria for defining windfall sites
  • queried whether there was robust evidence justifying reliance on large scale infrastructure schemes with uncertainty of the timing of delivery, including East West Rail and Cambourne to Cambridge.


Councillor Dr. Tumi Hawkins made the following responses to the above points, supplemented by additional officer advice for specific questions:

  • the Councils had taken a thorough approach to examining employment forecasting. COVID impacts are being seen on the ground - future evidence reviews would address these impacts.
  • The Sustainability Appraisal was an important part of the evidence base. The Sustainability Appraisal of the strategic spatial options highlighted differences for growth and spatial scenarios but also identified uncertainties, depending on how that growth was met. The First Proposals sought to locate growth in sustainable  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


To Note the date of the next meeting

The next scheduled Scrutiny and Overview Committee meeting will be on Thursday 14 October 2021.


The next scheduled Scrutiny and Overview Committee meeting would be on Thursday 14 October at 5.20pm.