What is the Greater Cambridge Partnership?
The Greater Cambridge Partnership region has experienced substantial economic growth over recent decades as a result of its continued expansion in the research and technology sector, enabling it to become a renowned global competitor. This success however, has put increasing strain on local transport and housing, whilst also increasing demand for specialised skills. The GCP Deal aims to tackle these restraints, enabling the Greater Cambridge area to continue to thrive.
Established as The City Deal in 2014, the newly named Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP)consists of a partnership between Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge University and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership and is the largest City Deal programme currently in place across the United Kingdom.
In 2014 the City Deal partnership agreed £500 million Government funding to help address these issues and secure sustainable economic growth and quality of life for residents of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire.
Under the terms of the GCP Deal the investment is phased in 3 tranches spread over a 15 year period. The initial £100 million investment is available over the five years to 2020, to progress the first tranche of GCP projects.
A further £200 million will be available from April 2020 and a final £200 million from 2025, if the GCP can demonstrate success in driving economic growth from each tranche of the GCP programme. The GCP also aims to generate a further £500 million through other funding streams, bringing in a total investment of £1 billion.
The GCP is governed by an Executive Board made up of an elected member from each of the partnership organisations. Legally, only the three local authority representatives are entitled to voting rights, but the advice of the local Enterprise Partnership and University of Cambridge representatives are taken into account to make sure decisions also represent the business and academic sectors. Key decisions are taken by the Executive Board, which coordinates the overall strategic vision and drives forward the GCP's work.
In addition, the GCP has an advisory panel called the ‘Joint Assembly’ made up of 3 elected members from each partner organisation. The Assembly acts as a forum for discussion with a wider range of members and stakeholders across the Greater Cambridge area, so that the Executive Board benefits from a wider range of expertise in making its decisions. A list of partnership representatives on the Executive Board and Joint Assembly can be found on the GCP website together with links to minutes of official City Deal meetings.
Tackling transport issues
This areas unprecedented growth has undoubtedly impacted on congestion in the region. Estimates suggests if action is not taken, journey times could increase by a massive 32%.
The GCP aims to solve this issue through encouraging the use of more sustainable modes of transport, such as cycling, walking and public transport. This may be achieved through relocating existing road space to these transport options, increasing park and ride capacity, creating new cycle ways and footpaths, and improving bus links between key locations, so it is easier to travel in, out and around Cambridge.
Tackling housing shortages
Alongside increased traffic congestion, economic growth has also put pressure on the local housing supply.
An appropriate mix of housing is vital to economic growth. The area’s economic success has made it an attractive place to live and work. However, the shortage of available and affordable housing has led to a dramatic increase in house prices, affecting recruitment and retention of employees. With the average house price 16X average salaries, home ownership is becoming increasingly difficult for those who aspire to get on the property ladder.
Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Council have worked closely to produce aligned Local Plans that complement the work of the GCP and deliver a joined up approach to sustainable expansion. The GCP is working closely with partners across the housing sector to bring forward delivery of 33,500 planned new homes and 44 000 new jobs by 2031, whilst ensuring that the Greater Cambridge area remains an attractive place to work, live and play.
The majority of new homes planned for the area over the next 15 years will be located within, and on the edge of Cambridge, at Cambourne, at a new village at Bourn Airfield, and at the new towns of Northstowe and north of Waterbeach. Tranche one transport plans are key to the successful delivery of the area’s housing strategy on the grounds of sustainability.
The draft Local Plans are currently being examined by a Government Inspector following initial feedback on minor changes. Further details about the inspection and programme of hearings can be found on the District Council website.