Growth and Infrastructure Bill

Memorandum submitted by Cambridgeshire County Council (GIB 39)

Introduction and Summary

1. Cambridgeshire County Council welcomes the opportunity to submit comments to the Committee regarding the Growth and Infrastructure Bill.

2. The County Council’s Integrated Plan for Cambridgeshire 2012-13 focuses upon three corporate priorities and the optimum means to deliver them. The three priorities are:

· Developing the local economy for the benefit of all

· Helping people live healthy and independent lives

· Supporting and protecting vulnerable people

The Council has been working with partners, local communities and businesses to identify and deliver key areas of investment to enable growth to proceed across the county, particularly to reach marginal and deprived groups.

3. The County Council is supportive of the Government’s desire to promote growth. The county has a unique position in terms of the high level of growth sustained over the last decade. The population of the county grew by 68,500 in the 10 years since the 2001 Census to 621,200. This was the largest growth in the population in any county council authority in England. The importance and relative strength of the Greater Cambridge economy, and its contribution to the national economy, is widely recognised. The UK Competitiveness Index identifies Cambridge as ‘One of the most competitive cities in the UK’, and in the Cities Outlook 2010, Cambridge was highlighted as one of the most recession-proof cities in the UK and one of the most likely places to lead Britain back to growth.

4. The County Council wishes to submit comments in respect of clauses 7 and 21. A clear commitment to a growth agenda and to investment in infrastructure requires an implicit recognition that the impact of some changes are irreversible. The cumulative impacts of temporary relaxations in legislation in particular require careful consideration and the justification for doing so based on robust evidence and a proportionate evaluation of the overall merits. The County Council’s primary aim is to ensure that confidence in the planning system is upheld by individuals, local residential and business communities and that planned outcomes are of high quality, deliverable and viable.

¹http://www.cambridgeshirehorizons.co.uk/documents/quality_panel/quality_charter_2010.pdf

²http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/80EA41E7-C981-452E-8861-1D2F2A61783C/0/Cambridgeshire_snapshotV2.pdf

Scope and status of comments

5. In considering a response to specific clauses, Cambridgeshire County Council has had regard to the draft Bill, the Regulatory Impact Assesment, signed 12th November

and the consultation paper issued by DCLG on 12th November relating to the removal of prior approval requirements for the installation, alteration and replacement of any fixed electronic communications equipment on Article 1( 5) land for five years. The County Council intends submitting comments to this consultation by DCLG before 24th December.

6. The County also wishes to submit comments to the forthcoming consultations by DCMS relating to the relaxation of the restriction in respect of overhead wires and by DCLG in respect of the possibility of large scale major projects including mining and quarrying could be brought within the nationally significant infrastructure regime. These comments are therefore provisional and the County Council reserves the right to make further comments in the light of additional information and/or clarification relating to relevant proposed secondary legislation.

A local commitment to sustainable development and to the Cambridgeshire Quality Charter

7. The County Council wishes to confirm its commitment to the plan led system, and to the existing duty to co-operate for the planning and delivery of sustainable development as set down by S 110 of the Localism Act. The County Council is mindful of the three dimensions to sustainable development, namely economic, social and environmental, reaffirmed by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in March this year. Section 8 of the NPPF states that "..economic, social and environmental gains should be sought jointly and simultaneously through the planning system."

8. The planned growth for Cambridgeshire continues to provide exciting new opportunities for the creation of sustainable and vibrant new communities. The Quality Charter for Growth in Cambridgeshire¹ sets out the core principles of the level of quality expected in new developments in Cambridgeshire. Participating councils and agencies have adopted the Quality Charter as a clear policy statement reinforcing the commitment to create high quality development. The charter is organised around the ‘4 Cs’ of Community, Connectivity, Climate and Character. There is also a cross-cutting ‘C’ of Collaboration which runs through everything and is key "to making things happen".

The profile for Cambridgeshire: demography and economic assessment

9. .The population of the county grew by 68,500 in the 10 years since the 2001 Census to 621,200. This was the largest growth in the population in any county council authority in England. Fenland, South Cambridgeshire and East Cambridgeshire are amongst the top twenty local authorities in terms of growth of households between 2001 and 2011. The rate of growth between 2001 and 2011 in the county across specific age bands has been markedly higher than the national and regional averages. England and Wales and the East of England both saw most growth in their 65+ years age group (11% and 15.5% respectively). This was also true for Cambridgeshire, with a population increase of 22.6% compared to 2001.² Cambridge was the first ranked city across England and Wales according to the Census data for the percentage of working age population (74.8%).

10. The importance and relative strength of the Greater Cambridge economy, and its contribution to the national economy, is widely recognised. The UK Competitiveness Index identifies Cambridge as ‘One of the most competitive cities in the UK’, and in the Cities Outlook 2010, Cambridge was highlighted as one of the most recession-proof cities in the UK and one of the most likely places to lead Britain back to growth. The growth in the high tech sector and knowledge based industries has contributed to much

of this success over the last 50 years. Within some Greater Cambridge districts the concentration of employment in the agri-food sector is very high, for example Fenland has 37 times the national proportion of employment in the processing and preserving of fruit and vegetables.

The County Council’s Integrated Plan for delivery

11. The County Council’s Integrated Plan for Cambridgeshire 2012-13 focuses upon three corporate priorities and the optimum means to deliver them. The three priorities are:

· Developing the local economy for the benefit of all

· Helping people live healthy and independent lives

· Supporting and protecting vulnerable people

The Council has been working with local communities and businesses to identify and deliver key areas of investment to enable growth to proceed across the county, particularly to reach marginal and deprived groups.

12. The full economic potential of the county will be enhanced by greater connectivity.

The County Council has acknowledged the important role that networking has played in "growing" employment clusters and will continue to play in the Cambridgeshire economy by encouraging community hubs to be co-located next to employment sites. Investment has also been made by the County Council in strategic transport infrastructure such as the Guided Busway, a new rail station to the north of Cambridge close to the Science Park, and a new rail crossing at Ely.

13 . The County Council has also agreed to invest up to £20M to support the rollout of superfast broadband services in Cambridgeshire to act as a further stimul us for growth across the whole c ounty . The target for the project is to ensure access to superfast broadband (defined as at least 25Mbps and upwards) to at least 90% of Cambridgeshire premises and better broadband to all others by 2015. The purpose of the project is to help drive economic growth in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough as well as supporting the health and well being of communities. The population density is 2 persons per hectare, ranging from 1.3 p/ha for East Cambridgeshire to 30 p/ha for the urban area of Cambridge. Almost 40% of the population live in villages with less than 10000 residents. The ability to reach these targets for broadband services will require the full cooperation of individuals, communities and businesses to work with local authorities and broadband providers over the coming years.

Clause 7

14. Cambridgeshire County Council acknowledges the significance of superfast broadband to the local and national economy and the role it plays in supporting the health and wellbeing of communities.

15. The County Council has had regard to the statement by the Local Government Association (LGA)³ on 7th September this year, issued after the Statement by the Culture Secretary relating to the temporary relaxation of legislation for broadband provision.

16. The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) dated 12th November does acknowledge that there will be some adverse visual intrusion by virtue of the legislative changes.

³http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/digital-inclusion/-/journal_content/56/10171/3766763/ARTICLE-TEMPLATE

17. The key issue is one of scale and the cumulative impact of incremental changes over the five year period by different operators. This is particularly significant for conservation areas and our sensitive landscapes, which are of crucial importance to the tourism economy of the East of England. The County Council is aware of the Government’s statement within the RIA relating to the retention of the statutory obligation for coder operators to minimise the impact upon visual amenity. This is of course a highly

subjective area and the judgements made by different operators may vary from place to place over time. It is therefore crucial to retain some safeguards to ensure that the quality of the public realm is maintained and enhanced on a consistent basis.

18. Table 5 within the RIA refers to costs and benefits. The County Council as highway authority wishes to highlight the importance of transport and the highway as an artery within the economy. The costs should include an assessment of the detrimental effect on the highway asset of some of the proposed construction methods, the potential legacy problem once broadband technology has been upgraded, and the detrimental effect on the public purse due to premature highway maintenance . A further problem lies with the present Code of Practice for Inspections of Street Works. This is now out of date and has been challenged by Utility Companies: a revised Code has been prepared but is presently with the Department of Transport awaiting consideration. A holistic assessment of works within the highway should also refer to the importance of maintaining sight lines for all users of the highway and access for the disabled is not compromised.

Clause 21

19. The County Council supports the principle of operating developers an alternative route for the determination of planning applications for schemes of national significance. as introduced in Clause 21. Where this may apply to extractive industries the thresholds in the RIA are given as the site area being 2has or more which could take a year or more to determine. Notwithstanding that Government will be consulting on the detail, Cambridgeshire Council, asks for clarification regarding the thresholds and the possible requirement by minerals and waste authorities to support the Inspectorate during the processing of these applications. If the fee were to be given to PINS, this question assumes greater significance. Clearly where the local mineral and waste authority has an up to date plan, and no record of underperformance, the expected take up of this pathway would be likely to be very low.

20. The County Council notes the Written Statement by the Planning Minister on 16th November regarding the recruitment of additional staff by the Planning Inspectorate.

In this regard, the figures are based upon an assessment of potential CIL and Local Plan Examinations; the figures do not appear to include mineral and waste professionals. who represent a relatively small percentage of the total number of chartered planners and surveyors.

November 2012

Prepared 27th November 2012