How we got
to where we are now
The containment of
The Holford Report published in
1950 has been the main influence on the development of Cambridge over the past 50 years.
It recommended that the population of Cambridge should be limited to 100,000 people by
restricting development in the City and in the villages nearest to it.
The aim of this policy was, and still is, to
preserve the special character of Cambridge as a university town within a rural setting.
This policy was reinforced by the introduction of a strong Green Belt around the City and
The expansion of employment
The Mott report published in 1969 advocated
exceptions for the development of science and Unversity research-based industries. This
opened the way for the Trinity Science Park and similar employment clusters which led to
the so-called Cambridge Phenomenon: a surge of high-tech firms which now employ over
30,000 people in and around the City, making it Europes prime growth area.
The view from 1950
following extract is taken from the Holford Report, illustrating the continuing
nature of the pressures facing Cambridge
"We believe Cambridge is moving quickly towards a new
phase of existence
.. incomparably beautiful in many things, miserably defective in
others, Cambridge is still one of the most pleasant places on earth in which to
"The question is whether it can
control its own destiny in the face of a multitude of unplanned events that will certainly
tend to change it
When these changes come, can they be arranged to maintain
and enhance the essential character and virtues of the town?
"If the probability of rapid
growth is the gravest problem in the planning of Cambridge, the most urgent is that of
from The Holford Report1948
Consequences of these policies
The increase in the number of jobs and households
within a restricted land supply have led to rising property prices
People employed in the City and its fringe have been
forced to live beyond the Green Belt where cheaper housing more than offsets the cost of
travel into Cambridge.
Population growth in surrounding villages and market
towns has been amongst the highest in the country.
As a result there is a daily influx of nearly 40,000
workers from outside the City, increasingly outnumbering resident workers.
Congestion in the access roads has risen, increasing
emissions and pollution.
Increase in housing costs
Over the years typical housing costs have
doubled in real terms (i.e., after taking account of inflation). Traditional employers
such as the University find it increasingly difficult to attract qualified personnel.
Salaries have not kept up with rising house prices and thus with the cost of living in the
Middle and low income groups have been forced to
locate beyond the Green Belt as property prices and the cost of living in the City have
risen. Apart from those protected in Council housing, price increases have meant that it
is mainly wealthy professional and managerial groups who can afford to locate in the City.
Most new development has been forced onto market
towns within 25 miles of the City: Ely, Mildenhall, Newmarket, Saffron Walden, Royston,
Biggleswade, St Neots, Huntingdon and St Ives have taken the brunt of the expansion.
Cambridges northern fringe has been developed
for housing (the Arbury estate), employment (Trinity Science Park, St Johns
Innovation Centre, etc) and the Regional College. Some housing has been developed to the
south (Cherry Hinton).
New villages have been developed, such as Bar Hill,
or are under development, such as Cambourne beyond the Green Belt.
Within the City of Cambridge, there has been very
little improvement of the transport network. Outside Cambridge, trunks roads such as the
M11 and A14 have been developed to take through-traffic out of the City. In recent years
these roads have become part of a major trans-European transport corridor, with
substantial increases in freight through-traffic.
Half of Cambridge commuters come from South
Cambridgeshire, and the other half from further away (East Cambridgeshire,
Huntingdonshire, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire and beyond).
Congestion on the access roads has increased tenfold.
Long traffic delays are a daily occurrence, especially during the morning and afternoon
peak, wasting time and energy, increasing pollution and reducing local safety.