Cambridge Independent: “River Cam supporters urge rethink by partners of Anglian Water during protest in Cambridge”

As reported by the Cambridge Independent during one of the days in the recent Hearings by the Planning Inspectorate Friends of the Cam and others made their voices heard outside the Hilton Hotel where the hearings were taking place.

In the article a spokesperson for the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service is quoted. Part of their statement refers to “8,350” homes coming from moving the sewage works.

“A North East Cambridge area action plan is being prepared by the councils for a significant new city district on this wider area that has identified potential for 8,350 homes and 15,000 jobs as well as supporting facilities.

This figure of 8,000 homes has been used across many newspaper articles recently but this is very misleading. The truth is, the emerging Local Plan which takes us to 2041, shows that the councils are only expecting to be able to build around 50% of that number1. We know, thanks to the Planning Inspectorate’s hearings, that around 1,500 of those 4,000 can be built now without moving the sewage works at all. Save Honey Hill argues that the balance of 2,500 is just not a big enough benefit to the public to justify the move of the sewage works – it is not good value for money coming from the public purse and is not the exceptional circumstance needed to permit building on Green Belt.

Post 2041, housing is already planned in other areas that will accommodate the shortfall.

Save Honey Hill argues that the balance of 2,500 homes is just not a big enough benefit to the public to justify the move of the sewage works

Save Honey Hill
  1. Greater Cambridge Shared Planning – Local Plan First Proposals []

“Joint statement from local leaders and the Combined Authority Mayor on Cambridge 2040 announcement”

The Mayor and other local leaders issued a statement on the 19th December 2023 about Rt Hon Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, updated plans for the Government’s ‘Cambridge 2040’ vision.

The Government’s vision for Cambridge includes proposals for “northwards” of 150,000 new homes around Cambridge as part of a major new expansion of the city.

“Joint statement from local leaders and the Combined Authority Mayor on Cambridge 2040 announcement”

June 3rd Town and U+I – wolves in sheep’s clothing at Strawberry Fair

It would appear that the core site at NECAAP has undergone a rebranding.  Town and U+I had a stall at Strawberry Fair today where they were proudly showcasing the plans for ‘Hartree’.

Here are some of the visuals on display:

For me what really stuck in the gullet was the one titled ‘A Day at Hartree’ which looks at possible future resident profiles.  It talks about key workers alongside couples who have moved from London alongside ‘global citizens’ from other countries.  I wonder if key workers really will be able to afford these apartments, and if it is attracting couples from London and further afield, how can the development be addressing the housing shortage that locals are experiencing.

I spoke to one of the people manning the stall who said that the sewage works relocation and Hartree are two completely separate projects while in the same breath saying that without the sewage works moving the development wouldn’t be able to go ahead.  He refused to accept they are linked and we had to agree to disagree in the end but it was all relatively good humoured debate. 

I also pointed out that they were stretching it to describe the development as good for the planet, “an exemplar for development fit for the challenges for the 21st Century, enabling sustainable lifestyles, enhancing nature and accelerating the transition to a net zero carbon world.”  I pointed out that they were being, at best, disingenuous and that in no way can this development be described as exemplary development fit for the blah! blah! if it depends on moving a fully functioning sewage works (one that was ‘future-proofed’ a few years back to the tune of over £20m) to Green Belt, arable farmland and pouring millions of tonnes of concrete onto a principal chalk aquifer into the bargain.

Anyways, if you have the opportunity to put anyone straight on the development and what the consequences are, I hope some of this helps with your argument.

Catherine Morris

Letter to the Cambridge Independent in response to the Planning Inspectorate’s Advice Notes to Anglian Water.

18th May 2023

Dear Reader

In response to this paper’s article dated Wednesday, 17th May 2023, which sheds a glaring spotlight on Anglian Water’s sloppy planning application to relocate its wastewater treatment plant at Cowley Road to Honey Hill, the Save Honey Hill team would like to thank the Cambridge Independent and, in particular, Alex Spencer, for bringing this to the public’s attention.

The article made for stark reading when you consider the consequences of this huge nationally significant infrastructure project and the equally huge £227 million that Anglian Water has been allocated to pay for the relocation.

This project is about a billion-pound private water company profiteering from a move that will release land that can then be called brownfield and sold off to developers for a huge sum that its shareholders will pocket whilst the taxpayer foots the bill for the move.

The Save Honey Hill campaign has long held the opinion that due diligence has not been given to the environmental impact of said move nor to the option of the sewage plant staying where it is and, if necessary, simply being upgraded. According to the Advice Notes published by the Planning Inspectorate, the planning inspectors clearly agree.  It is the validation that we are very happy to receive, but we are not so naïve as to think the story ends there.

We will continue to press home, at every opportunity, the many wrongs of this aspiration held by Anglian Water, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and undoubtedly the university colleges who own some of the land adjacent to the Cowley Road site.

We will also continue to press home that NECAAP (North East Cambridge Area Action Plan) is not in fact sustainable because in the Local Plan there is no mention of requiring the sewage plant to move to open, arable farmland in Green Belt near Horningsea, Fen Ditton and Quy, and no mention of the associated carbon cost of doing so.  This is plainly wrong and not what the people of Cambridge and the surrounding area deserve. It is a greenwashing exercise of the highest order compounded by the fact that as the Planning Inspectorate has pointed out in its Advice Notes, “…given the focus in the application document on providing a carbon efficient wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), consideration should be given to the inclusion of a comparative assessment for reasonable alternatives, including the ‘do-nothing’ option or the provision of the upgrade at the existing WWTP. Without these the environmental benefits of the proposed development are unclear.”

Your readers are also invited to consider that producing these Development Consent Order (DCO) application documents in the first place will have made a sizeable dent in the taxpayer-funded budget Anglian Water is working to. To have ignored the PI’s initial advice that its Environmental Impact Assessment report should include the demolition of the site and to omit it from its DCO application, shows a level of either arrogance or amateurism that is incredibly disturbing when this company is being tasked with building a massive new piece of infrastructure.

But then is this such a surprise?

Anglian Water is one of a number of water companies in the UK which is regularly fined for not doing its job properly. Its business (excuse the pun) is to treat and deal with our sewage in a safe and responsible way. Time and time again we see the evidence all around our coastline and in our rivers that it is not capable of providing that fundamental service and I can only draw the same conclusion when it comes to this relocation project. It doesn’t need to relocate because the one that exists is fully functioning and has capacity (by AW’s admission); the carbon cost of the project which is as yet unknown will be massive not least because of the shedloads of concrete needed to protect the Principal Chalk Aquifer (groundwater) at Honey Hill, that construction will need to provide!

We urge everyone to visit www.savehoneyhill.org and follow instructions on how to object to this Development Consent Order application if the Planning Inspectorate accepts it at the end of this month. Anyone can have their say and this is most certainly NOT A DONE DEAL!

Catherine Morris

Save Honey Hill Campaigner and Horningsea Resident

Pressure mounts to halt dislocated NECAAP

North East Cambridge development plans come under fire from local campaign groups

Increasingly, more groups and Councillors are expressing their concerns about the overdevelopment of Cambridge, including the planned relocation of the sewage works to Honey Hill. Much concern has also been voiced about the draft Local Plan and the implications of the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan (NECAAP) redevelopment and housing (planned for the current sewage works site) and the environmental and general impact the overdevelopment of Cambridge will have on all of our lives.

“creative carbon accounting”

Green Party city councillor, Hannah Copley, has accused local authorities of “creative carbon accounting” in development plans for North East Cambridge1. Like us, Cllr Copley believes moving the sewage works is unnecessary and that the environmental consequences of doing so have not been properly assessed. Cllr Copley, who represents Abbey Ward, said: – “The North East Cambridge development can only go ahead if the sewage works moves, and the sewage works is only moving so that the land can be developed. These two projects are intrinsically linked…We need to include the entire lifetime carbon emissions of the destruction, rebuilding and relocation of the new sewage works”. She questions “The completely unnecessary destruction and rebuilding of the waste water treatment works, and the loss of Green Belt land… The Cambridge Green Belt is being dismantled piece by piece”2

“Many residents are shocked at the level of growth proposed…and the plan’s failure to consider the overall environmental capacity and climate change impact and the effect on the historic environment (built and natural) in a holistic way”

In response to the Local plan, Friends of the Earth, has accused the councils of “hypocrisy” … who “on the one hand spout bland platitudes about cutting carbon dioxide emissions and on the other, countenance further pouring of concrete, building of roads for ever increasing traffic levels and continual gnawing away at the Green Belt in a Local Plan that has anything but good wishes towards anything local”3. Wendy Blythe of FeCRA states “Many residents are shocked at the level of growth proposed…and the plan’s failure to consider the overall environmental capacity and climate change impact and the effect on the historic environment (built and natural) in a holistic way”.4 CPRE and Friends of the Cam have raised their concerns about the lack of water and space to support the level of housing growth suggested in the Local plan. CamDEAG warns “Cambridge is being exploited for financial gain”. Concern has also been expressed about flood risk and food supply5

“You’re introducing another 18,000 people to an area and the assumption is that they will go elsewhere for their cultural and leisure facilities.”

In the Cambridge Independent Newspaper6, Independent Cambridge City Councillor, Sam Davies, expresses her concern about the density of housing proposed and the lack of leisure and social amenity space on the NECAAP development, planned for the existing sewage works site in Milton. “You’re introducing another 18,000 people to an area and the assumption is that they will go elsewhere for their cultural and leisure facilities.” It is widely acknowledged that Milton Road is already at capacity and there is concern about the impact the increase in population in this area will have on our roads7. James Littlewood, Chief executive of Cambridge Past Present and Future, has expressed concerns about the potential impact of thousands of future residents on Milton Country Park. He has told councillors that not enough open space is allocated for future residents8. Councillor Anna Bradnam has also expressed her concerns over lack of sports and Faith facilities and a cemetery9

Concern has also been expressed by our MP Lucy Frazer10 and Councillors Claire Daunton11 and Anna Bradnam about access to the proposed new sewage works site at Honey Hill. All favour option three, a dedicated service from the layby on the A14 to the site. Anglian Water prefers Option 1, on Horningsea Road.

 

Glossary: –

  • NECAAP – North East Cambridge Area Action Plan
  • CPRE – Campaign for the Protection of Rural England
  • FeCRA – Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations
  • CamDEAG – The Cambridge Doughnut Economics Action Group

 

  1. Written question to City Council Planning & Transport Scrutiny Committee, 114th Jan 2022 []
  2. Cambridge Independent Jan 12-Jan 18 2022 p9 []
  3. Cambridge Friends of the Earth Facebook page []
  4. https://www.fecra.org.uk/update-14th-december-2021/ []
  5. Cambridge Independent Jan 5-Jan 11 2022 p9 []
  6. Cambridge Independent Newspaper Jan 12th to 18th []
  7. https://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/news/new-north-east-cambridge-district-to-have-no-pool-or-sports-9235120/ []
  8. https://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/news/8-350-home-north-east-cambridge-plan-will-protect-villages-a-9234459/ []
  9. https://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/news/8-350-home-north-east-cambridge-plan-will-protect-villages-a-9234459/ []
  10. https://www.lucyfrazer.org.uk/news/update-cambridge-waste-water-treatment-plant []
  11. Lib Dem Flyer, November 2021 []

SHH response to GCP’s Local Plan: First Proposals public consultation

The public consultation run by Greater Cambridgeshire Shared Planning on the Local Plan ended on the 13th of December. The Local Plan (LP) is about all aspects of development in this area until 2041 and includes homes, jobs, biodiversity, infrastructure, wellbeing and social inclusion and climate change. The LP has been produced by Cambridge City Council and South Cambs District Council.

Save Honey Hill gave feedback to the consultation as did many groups around Cambridge.

Other organisations responses

  • Fen Ditton Parish Council
  • FeCRA
  • South Cambridgeshire Green Party
  • Cambridge Friends of the Earth

  • Hands Off Cambridge’s Green Belt

    IMG 4493

    Protect the Green Belt: our latest banners highlighting the huge carbon footprint of demolishing a working sewage plant to build a new one less than a mile away.

    IMG 4986

    Greater Cambridge Shared Planning (GCP) are currently running a public consultation on the First Proposals: Local Plan that why published in September. The consultation ends 13th December.

    Whereas this plan is being publicised as being very green there is no mention in the Local Plan that development at North East Cambridge is dependent on moving the sewage works to Green Belt at Honey Hill just outside Horningsea and Fen Ditton.

    Save Honey Hill believes that producing a Local Plan without mention of the relocation of a major infrastructure project to Green Belt is disingenuous and lacking transparency.

    Image1

    IMG 4984

    Greater Cambridge Local Plan First Proposals – North East Cambridge : What about the Green Belt?

    As reported in the Cambridge Independent1 the joint Council Leadership is promoting the new Greater Cambridge Local Plan First Proposals as having green credentials and an emphasis on protecting the Green Belt that surrounds Cambridge and the historical villages within it. The villages themselves and Green Belt designation has been identified in multiple Green Belt Studies commissioned by the joint Councils over the years as being essential to maintaining the character of Cambridge City. As specified by Lead Member for Planning on South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cllr. Hawkins2:

    “The Green Belt is a vital tool for protecting the unique setting of Cambridge City as well as protecting our villages from urban sprawl whilst maintaining their character and providing green corridors for bio diversity…It is only possible to make changes to the Green Belt if there is very strong evidence to justify it….”

    Many of the villages in the Green Belt and the historical listed buildings within them, have an additional layer of protection in being designated Conservation Areas. Planning protection of Conservation Areas extends beyond the specific boundary and includes adjacent land where a proposed development would have a detrimental impact on the setting, character and appearance of the Conservation Area.
    Despite the declarations of our Council Leadership there is a clear omission in the Greater Cambridge Local Plan First Proposals.

    The Local Plan nor the supporting Strategic Environmental Assessment address the direct consequences of the housing proposals for North East Cambridge, namely the relocation of Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant (CWWTP) into the Cambridge Green Belt.

    The proposed site for the relocation is in the Honey Hill area, within just 1.5km of the existing plant and 0.5km of three conservation areas: Fen Ditton, Baits Bite Lock and Horningsea. The proposed plant will be visible from all these areas which include multiple footpaths, national trails and other high quality public amenity land. This location jeopardises the National Trust’s Wicken Fen Vision, the area being the intended southern public access for the extended Fen Area, now to be within the odour zone of the proposed relocated CWWTP3.

    All conversations or implied meaning in reports that the relocation of CWWTP is to do with anything other than the Cambridge City and South Cambridge District joint Councils desire to build houses on the existing site and adjacent land are red herrings or smoke screens.

    There has been no reference to any requirement to increase capacity in Anglian Water’s public funding or planning application to date. Indeed, it is due to there being ‘no operational need to relocate’ that Anglian Water are legally unable to raise finance or charge its customers to cover the costs of building a replacement facility and applied instead for £227 million of public money to do so456.

    In 2016, £21 million was invested in the existing plant and was stated as having future-proofed the plant ‘for decades to come’. The Environmental Journal heralded the upgrade as ‘securing its standing as the eastern region’s green energy generating plant’78.

    Anglian Water in their letter to the Secretary of State seeking a Development Consent Order (DCO) state the operating capacity of the existing site has a population equivalent of 548,000 and that the proposed relocated site will operate at the same capacity9.

    The capacity of the integrated CWWTP has a population equivalent of 548,000……..
    The CWWTPR will operate at the same capacity as the existing CWWTP.

    Current plans to extend the CWWTP catchment area for waste water to include Waterbeach New Town, in the absence of the relocation, will be absorbed by the existing site creating, in Anglian Waters’ words, ‘significant embodied carbon reductions and operational efficiency.’

    The increased employment opportunities arising out of the proposed plans for North East Cambridge (NEC/NECAAP) are also not attributable to the relocation of CWWTP to the Green Belt. The figure of 15,000 jobs specified in the Greater Cambridge Local Plan First Proposals are the same as those identified in the Issues and Options Consultation (2014) informing the existing South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) Local Plan (2018)10 without the requirement of the CWWTP relocation. As the market requires, new office buildings and R&D facilities in the area within the Cambridge Science Park, St John’s Innovation Centre and Cambridge Business Park will continue as at present.

    The implications of the relocation of CWWTP for the benefit of housing development on carbon expenditure is huge, including embedded carbon and carbon emissions.

    Carbon expenditure in the relocation, to fulfil the Councils’ desire to build houses on the existing site, should be calculated and off set against any carbon efficiencies declared to be gained in a new plant and assessed against the Local Plan policy on Carbon Expenditure/Omissions.

    Carbon expenditure will include: the decommissioning of a fully operational and future-proofed plant within just 1.5km of the existing one; the decontamination of land to make it fit for housing; the construction of an entirely new plant in undeveloped land; extensive tunnelling to carry waste that feeds into the existing plant across the river, up the hill to the new one and back again to the River Cam; and construction traffic over a four year period.

    There is a regulatory requirement that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) used to inform the direction of the Local Plan must set out the likely significant effects of implementing the plan, that authorities and the public are given an effective opportunity to express their opinion and that the report includes information that may be required to do so11

    The omission of the relocation of CWWTP as a direct consequence of the Councils’ housing development plans for North East Cambridge in the SEA does not enable our elected Council representatives or the residents of Cambridge City or South Cambridge District to effectively and objectively assess the effects of the Local Plan on the Green Belt or other related Local Plan policies.

    Notably, without inclusion of the proposed CWWTP relocation site in the Local Plan, the Councils are not fulfilling regulatory requirements and the planning proposals for North East Cambridge cannot be measured on a par with other development proposals in the Local Plan.

    Anglian Water are pursuing a national planning pathway (Development Consent Order, DCO) for the relocation; timing of the Greater Cambridge Local Plan strategy accounts for this.

    If the DCO planning process is put forward by the joint Councils as a reason not to include the effects the housing proposals for North East Cambridge will have on the Green Belt, and it is not to be assessed against the Local Plan policies on a par with other proposed developments, then the proposals for North East Cambridge should be removed from the Local Plan until such time as they can.

    Jennie Conroy
    Resident of Fen Ditton
    On behalf of Save Honey Hill Campaign – 25-09-2021

    1. 1st September 2021 https://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/news/interactive-map-see-the-sites-where-nearly-49-000-new-homes-9214197/ []
    2. Cambridge Independent, 2nd September 2021 https://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/news/anthony-browne-mp-condemns-49-000-home-greater-cambridge-loc-9214388/ []
    3. National Trust Wicken Fen Vision (2009)
      https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/wicken-fen-nature-reserve/documents/wicken-fen-vision-strategy-document.pdf []
    4. letter from Environment Agency 22 March 2019 to GCP – “CNFAAP Issues and Options Consultation”. p2 []
    5. https://cwwtpr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/CWWTPR-Phase-One-Consultation-Summary-Report.pdf []
    6. HIF Award of £227 to unlock 9000 homes – Chancellors Autumn 2020 Statement/Spending Review p38 []
    7. Environment Journal July (2016)
      https://environmentjournal.online/articles/cambridges-water-recycling-centre-looks-future/ []
    8. “Water Briefings” trade journal 2014 https://www.waterbriefing.org/home/company-news/item/9110 []
    9. Request for Direction by the Secretary of State pursuant to Section 35 of the Planning Act2008 – The Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant Relocation Project 1st Dec 2020 []
    10. South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) Adopted Local Plan (2018)
      https://www.scambs.gov.uk/media/17087/south-cambridgeshire-adopted-local-plan.pdf []
    11. Greater Cambridge Local Plan:
      First Proposals
      Sustainability Appraisal
      []