Update 28th Oct 2020

Dear all,

Update 28th Oct, 2020

Govt’s Planning for the Future White Paper – deadline for comments 11:45pm, tomorrow, 29 October 2020


In proposing to tear down the existing planning system, there are concerns that the Planning White Paper poses a serious threat to local engagement and democracy, to the countryside and to the wider environment.

The proposal to identify growth zones has particular implications for Cambridge and other counties that fall within the proposed Oxford to Cambridge “arc” – see Questions 5 and 9 about Growth Zones. Eg Q 9(a):

Do you agree that there should be automatic outline permission for areas for substantial development (Growth areas) with faster routes for detailed consent?

There is still time to respond, if you haven’t done so already. The consultation ends at 11:45pm on Thursday 29th October. The Town and Country Planning Association has produced a very useful community guide on how to respond, which you can access here.

You can access the consultation itself here. It’s not necessary to comment on everything, or to complete the consultation survey. An email to planningforthefuture@communities.gov.uk will be fine and copy your MP with a comment so that he knows your priorities: daniel@danielzeichner.co.uk or anthony.browne.mp@parliament.uk

Water supplies and quality There are proposals to double housing targets for the south and east of England, to 100,000 per annum.  Already our rivers and chalk aquifers are in terrible shape, with water companies receiving a scathing annual report this month from government, and assessments in September showing that all England’s rivers and lakes are polluted beyond EU legal limits. [i]

Development of new water-reduction policies relating to leakage, smart metering, product labelling, building regulations and water-efficiency communication has just been put on hold despite multiple warnings that parts of England could soon run out of water in five years without action; see the Ends Report, link below.


Campaigners fear that the legal body designed to protect the environment on behalf of citizens is being undermined by the UK government. Ministers promised that after Brexit, laws on air, water and waste would be policed by an independent Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). Previously, these laws were enforced by European courts, which prosecuted EU governments that breached environmental rules.


The climate and biodiversity crisis The planning system needs to be at the heart of delivering the UK’s climate change targets say the Centre for Sustainable Energy and the TCPA https://www.cse.org.uk/downloads/reports-and-publications/policy/planning/planning-white-paper-consultation-october-2020.pdf

Sustainability The White Paper tells us there will be a new process for assessing sustainability. But sustainability needs to be clearly defined and to include deliverability checks.

Much sustainability depends on developers keeping their promises.  They need to prove that they can, for example, deliver a promise for a regular bus service, or deliver employment land on site, or that their plans allow them to retain an ancient hedgerow – and there needs to be enforcement.

Oxford to Cambridge Arc

The growth strategy for inward migration is supported by building one million houses, more roads and an expressway (the expressway is paused, not stopped ) and East West Rail. But how is achieving net zero carbon and environmental net gain ‘doubling nature’ compatible with building one million houses and an expressway?

Achieving nature targets – ‘Doubling Nature’ see link


Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS)

In the BBC Farming Today programme on 7 October, Defra Secretary of State George Eustice described how the new Environmental Land Management Schemes will work. It will have three tiers: one to support farmers to take a holistic approach, one resembling Countryside Stewardship, and one for larger-scale landscape change.

Green groups who want genuinely ambitious reforms, ask where are the metrics and processes to show that “environmental compensation” for huge green-space development actually works.

Many farmers want to see public money for public gain, but there is concern that some are quietly pushing for cosmetic reforms that would simply rejig business as usual.

Land Management and Net Gain Offsetting

The business plan for the OxCam Arc is focused on net gain offsetting i.e. approval of development. ‘Spirit of place’, planting community woods, orchards and riverscape enhancement attracts volunteer support and generates the most investment income. Link below.

Extracts from Natural Cambridgeshire Scoping Nature for Investment

The planners wrote to the FeCRA Committee in June 2020:

“The Local Plan green space evidence base study will identify priority projects, and will advise which should be included in the Local Plan, and which should be delivered through land management as opposed to development processes. This priority list will in future also inform biodiversity net gain offsetting, and bids for funding from other sources”.

Natural Cambridgeshire Investment Programme workshop 6 Oct, 2020

“We need to discover local views, to consider what makes sense in the Cambridgeshire context, which is why we are here today”


Workshop attendees included board members of growth group Cambridge Ahead, Cambridge University Land Economy Dept, water company and river group interests: Cam Valley Forum, Water Resources East, Anglian Water, the Cambridge Water Company and the Environment Agency, along with board members of Natural Cambs, local authority reps, landowners and development sector interests who are promoting green belt sites.

Addressing climate change

Cambridge City Council is launching public consultation and engagement to inform its new Climate Change Strategy for the next five years


Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has set up an Independent Commission on Climate and is running a survey. Details are here:



Best wishes,


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