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We launch our 'Big Conversation'

Published: Monday, September 25, 2017

Your views count.

That's the message from the Greater Cambridge Partnership as it launches a 'big conversation' about the future Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire that people want to see.

Up to £1 billion in funding has been secured over the next few years to improve transport links and deliver thousands of new homes and jobs, and to keep the city region special as it continues to grow.

The Partnership, made up of the local councils, business and the University of Cambridge, is now looking ahead to how it should invest future funds and wants to get everyone talking about how to make the most of it.

The campaign will seek people’s views, online and face-to-face at a series of business and community events across the area, on what improvements in transport, housing, skills and technology would most help them in the future.

Photo of GCP team with Cambridge United Chairman

From left: Dave Doggett (CUFC Chairman), Rachel Stopard (GCP CEO) , Cllr Ian Bates, Cllr Kevin Price, Cllr Francis Burkitt (GCP Chair)

Members of the Partnership teamed up with Cambridge United to mark the official launch of the ‘big conversation’ kicking-off with a community pop-up event at the U’s mid-week match against Forest Green Rovers.

“The Government is backing Greater Cambridge and we must make the most of this amazing opportunity to grow and share prosperity – to help businesses, communities and people thrive, now and well into the future,” said Chair of the Partnership’s Executive Board, Cllr Francis Burkitt.

“Our ‘big conversation’ is about you having your say on how the future of the city and district is shaped in a way that solves issues you want to solve, improves services you want to improve and creates the right opportunities for you, your family or your business.

“How can this investment help you get on better in the future - we want to hear your honest views, and we’ll be at community centres, shopping malls, supermarkets and transport hubs right across the area over the next few weeks ready to listen to them – and if you can make those, we’d love to hear your views online or by post.” 

The ‘big conversation’ will run until the end of November with people able to find out more and offer their views face-to-face at more than 25 business and community events, via an online survey, through social media chats and more. 

During October, and in association with Travel for Cambridgeshire, a travel survey will be launched seeking information on people’s travel habits, preferences and priorities, to supplement existing data for decision-making. 

Greater Cambridge is the fastest growing tech cluster in Europe with a global reputation for research, innovation and enterprise. This has led to rapid growth in recent years as more businesses and people move to the area.

In turn, this has impacted on the availability and affordability of housing – the average house price in Cambridge is now more than half a million pounds – and increasing pressure on the transport network with chronic peak-time congestion leading to deteriorating air quality. 

With the population of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire set to rise by a further 28% to nearly 350,000 by 2031* and a rise of between 25-30% in journeys to and from the city, the Partnership is making long-term plans to help the city region grow sustainably by:

  • Creating better, greener transport networks connecting people to homes, jobs, study and opportunity
  • Inspiring and developing the future workforce, so that businesses can grow
  • Accelerating housing delivery and homes for all
  • Harnessing and developing smart technology

The partnership secured £100m to 2020 and has made a number of early investments including improving bus, cycling and walking journeys along key routes into the city. The City Deal agreement with Government offers the potential of a further £400m to 2030, with a commitment to local match funding.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council and Vice Chair of the Partnership said: “The Partnership has been developing plans that has already started to deliver benefits on the ground to help us manage growth, in terms of new homes, improved public transport, cycling and walking trips, and improving the life chances of young people locally.

 “But funding in future years offers even greater opportunity, and this marks the start of developing a 10 year plan clearly setting out our end goals – the place that we want our city region to be by 2031.

 "One of several questions we will be asking people in Cambridge and in South Cambridgeshire, and local businesses, will be how they think we should tackle our serious and growing congestion and city centre air pollution challenges.

 “The City Deal Board believes there needs to be a future intervention to limit the use of motor vehicles generally in central Cambridge and which needs to be agreed and underway before 2020. It will be different to earlier plans and made possible by providing attractive alternatives. So we want to hear from everyone with a view about how they think this should be addressed, along with other ideas and priorities for improving transport across our area including rural transport challenges faced in South Cambridgeshire.”

Check out our Big Conversation page for further information and events near you. 

You can tell us your views by completing the survey online.