In 2015 Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council agreed the principle of working in partnership to deliver a range of shared services. They also agreed to the principle of moving to a fully integrated Shared Planning Service across Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council Councils to deliver the suite of services consistent with their obligations as the Local Planning Authority for the two areas. In 2016 the Councils recruited Stephen Kelly as Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development to lead the service. In 2017, an outline business case was agreed, and the project is proceeding on the basis of a multi-phased programme.
The new joint planning service will be one of the largest planning services in the East of England operating in one of the fastest growing economies in the UK. The services together currently determine around 7000 planning and related applications per year with some 150 staff. The strategic and local planning framework is complex, with a wide range of stakeholders and a highly engaged community. The service has prepared a shared business plan for 2018 onwards. The services are engaging in the delivery of two complementary Local Plans and supporting work on 14 Neighbourhood Plans together with the development of a non-statutory spatial plan by the recently formed Combined Authority. Greater Cambridge also benefits from a “City Deal” with government – committing £500m towards the infrastructure required to underpin future growth in and around the Greater Cambridge Area. The capacity to collaborate in the dynamic and politically complex environment is paramount.
The creation of a new joint planning service provides a range of opportunities for both councils and individuals. The area has a national and international profile – and building the capacity and talent to exploit this once in a lifetime opportunity for the area through an efficient and effective planning service delivering high quality outcome is a priority.
The two Councils of Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire cover an area of over 360 square miles in the Southern part of Cambridgeshire. The City Council area is entirely surrounded by SCDC and the two Councils have a long track record of Joint working – especially around growth with a number of development sites straddling the district boundary. In addition to the Planning Service, Cambridge City Council and SCDC have a 2 way partnership for Waste Services and along with Huntingdonshire District Council, the three Councils share ICT, Legal and Building Control services.