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Response to CPRE blogpost

A spokesperson for Greater Cambridge Shared Planning said: “We are disappointed that CPRE have published a misleading interpretation of the data that we first made publicly available last September. The Greater Cambridge Local Plan consultation, the First Conversation, led to more than 5,000 unique visitors to our website, 6,000 people engaged at events and 30,000 views of our videos online. We know that over 700 different named respondents – and probably many more once anonymous comments are taken into account – submitted feedback to the consultation. These responses came from individuals, parish councils, residents associations, and many more. They play a vital part in our plan-making process, giving us an insight into local priorities and helping to shape the emerging plan. It is also worth noting that Greater Cambridge Shared Planning has been recently shortlisted twice, for its excellence in public engagement in plan-making, at the national Planning Awards. We have been asked to attend Government operational planning teams to showcase our experience on how to increase the quality and quantity of local engagement in planning. This is because we take our responsibilities towards our communities very seriously and we devote a lot of time and energy into using all the means we can to reach out better each time.”

Further context

We cannot track with certainty how many people that we spoke to at events visited our website, filled in a response form online, or sent us an email. But we do know that we received a huge number of responses through a whole range of methods:

  • We gathered 226 comments from individuals at events
  • We received over 1,000 responses via our website (which permitted anonymous responses). Some of these will have been comments submitted by the same person to different questions.
  • 6,500 comments were registered on our online consultation system, Opus 2 Consult. This includes comments directly entered into the system by registered users; comments submitted to us via email that used our downloadable response form (for which a name and address were supplied), as well as other comments via email (for which the respondent gave consent for it to be registered on the system). 740 unique respondents had responses registered on our system in this way. This alone is more than 10 times the ’66 responses’ suggested by CPRE.
  • Some responses came from Parish Councils and Residents Associations; some represented landowners and developers; some were individuals, representatives from charities, businesses, statutory bodies like the Environment Agency, and others. All are valid – in plan-making it is the quality, not the quantity, of responses that matter, because plans must be founded on sound evidence.

We also know that we reached a more diverse range of people than ever before. We asked people who had submitted a consultation response, to complete a voluntary survey, so we could assess diversity. 193 people completed this survey, which was set up so that it could only be answered once from an individual IP address.

  • 12% identified as mixed-race or non-white in their ethnic background. This is exactly the same proportion within the general population for Greater Cambridge, according to Census 2011 data, showing that we reached out well to those from varied ethnic backgrounds.
  • 22% of respondents identified as having a physical or mental health condition, or illness expected to last 12 months or more. 13% of Cambridge residents and 13.9% of South Cambridgeshire residents reported a limiting long-term illness or disability in the 2011 Census, so this suggests that the consultation was particularly effective at reaching those with physical or mental health conditions.
  • 89% of respondents were from a CB postcode.

27 April 2021