The Woodland Trust - Centenary Woodland

Cambridge Sustainable Design
and Construction SPD
pushing the boundaries

The Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service is currently consulting on a Greater Cambridge Sustainable Design and Construction Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), with responses due by 23 September 2019. EIA Associate, Carey Doyle, highlights the opportunities to come from changing sustainability policies.

The updated SPD summarises existing sustainability planning policy for the Cambridge City and South Cambridge areas, and sets out expectations for going beyond current policy requirements to achieve exemplar and best practice development. 

An SPD cannot introduce new policy, but the document provides clear intentions to push the boundaries of sustainable policy. These local authorities are strongly committed to sustainable design and construction, with new expectations set out for best practice. Sustainability principles are expected to be implemented “in the most elegant, timely, and cost-effective way possible.”

Some of the SPD’s proposals for best practice include:

  • Food growing areas in landscaping, roofs, balconies, atriums and courtyards, in addition to allotments
  • Certification schemes for embodied carbon in building materials
  • Flexible design to allow for the incorporation of new technologies, including autonomous vehicles

Sustainability is a quickly emerging policy area in Cambridge, and the publication of the SPD provides one of the first indications of what this will mean in practice. It sets the tone for what will be a radical approach to sustainability against the backdrop of substantial growth at the eastern end of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

Changing sustainability policies can provide many opportunities. These are wide-ranging, and include:

  • Allowing for creative design and planning approaches to unlock development at difficult sites
  • Higher values for residential units with strong sustainability credentials
  • Opportunities in natural capital and ecosystem services
  • Growing renewable energy markets
  • Growing science and technology markets to address climate change challenges

These opportunities are in addition to the notable strengths of the Cambridge market, and the Oxford-Cambridge Arc regionally.

If you are interested in hearing more about Bidwells’ planning services, please contact us.

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