Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Cambridge charity urges City Council to use New Homes Bonus to safeguard the historic environment

While Cambridge PPF recognises and accepts the need to strengthen the planning team dealing with the growth areas, at the same time we cannot risk weakening the protection of what makes Cambridge so special in the first place - its historic centre, its green open spaces, its trees and cityscapes.  What Cambridge PPF is seeking is a better balance in the allocation of the New Homes Bonus and asks that not all this money should be used for the growth areas.

Cambridge City Council’s Council

Agenda 7 April 2011 – item 4a and including Appendix 1.

Full Media Release:Housing Minister Grant Shapps has called on councils in Cambridgeshire to work closely with residents to decide how to spend the rewards of building new homes. The Minister has told councils that it is vital that local people now have the opportunity to choose how these bonuses are spent. Cambridge itself has been awarded £786,646.
Cambridge Past, Present & Future is urging the city council to use this bonus to help maintain the care and protection of Cambridge’s unique historic environment, trees and open spaces.
On Thursday, the full council will vote on plans to spend the New Homes Bonus on supporting posts within the growth area planning team. Cambridge Past Present & Future believes that achieving quality in the ‘Growth Agenda’ and the new urban quarters of Cambridge is very important. However, the plans do not inspire confidence in the council’s commitment to ensuring that the impact of these new developments on the existing historic parts of the city and its residents is minimised. “With budgets under pressure, there are real concerns that this key area of the council’s responsibilities to our world-renowned historic environment will be significantly downgraded,” says Carolin Göhler, the charity’s CEO.

“The expertise of the specialist teams managing the historic environment, trees and green spaces is invaluable and needs to be robust to protect and enhance Cambridge,” she adds.“This applies to the new urban extensions as well as the historic centre of Cambridge. Approval of the budget without considering the historic environment will dramatically reduce the team’s exceptional expertise and will make the protection of the historic core of Cambridge more difficult. Equally trees and green spaces need their specialists to retain the quality of the city. Thus the proposed allocation of the New Homes Bonus needs to be discussed on a wider platform with local people and with all information in the open when making crucial decisions”.

Cambridge PPF is asking for immediate assurances on these issues . The plan for spending the Bonus goes to the vote on Thursday. “We must ensure the Local Authority still protects and enhances the city’s heritage and green open spaces despite the cuts in resources that are being made,” says Göhler. “Cambridge PPF would not like to see any reduction in the strength of the Historic Environment Team. As an example of how they work as integrated professionals, they have to deal with the difficult CB1 development which is located within a Conservation Area and rich in Listed Buildings.”

On behalf of all the residents of Cambridge, Cambridge PPF has voiced its strong concern with the City Council’s ‘Heritage Champion’ Cllr Damien Tunnacliffe and the Leader of the Council - Cllr Sian Reid - and Cllr Clare Blair - Executive Councillor for Climate Change and Growth.


Notes to editors:

About Cambridge Past, Present & Future (CambridgePPF):

Cambridge Past, Present & Future — a local charity with over 1,700 members working to keep Cambridge and its surroundings special by positively influencing planning developments, delivering environmental education and managing the green spaces and historic buildings in its care — for the benefit of all.


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