The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), formerly known as the City Deal, is the largest City Deal scheme in the country. Central government has allocated funds to a consortium of local authorities and local business interests, in this case Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, with local business interests represented by the University of Cambridge and the Local Economic Partnership (Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough).
There is potentially £500M on offer to be spent in a relatively short timetable: £100M to be spent by 2020; a further £200M to be spent by 2025; and a final £200M after 2025. Hence the desire of the City Deal team to push the first ‘Tranche 1’ projects through quickly to commit spending before 2020.
While the focus of the GCP is on transport, the real strategy is about housing and jobs. The Local Plan for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Councils locates new housing and new employment sites outside the City, in Cambourne and Bourn for example, expecting many new residents to need to commute to locations in and around Cambridge.
The plans driving the Cambourne to Cambridge Better Bus Journeys proposals are for 1,400 new houses on Bourn Airfield (and a further 2,100 projected after 2031), and 1,700 new houses at Cambourne; 1,000 jobs are projected to be created at Bourn Airfield and 1,900 jobs in Cambourne. The Local Plan is awaiting approval by a planning inspector (expected summer 2017).
Whether you like it or not, Cambridge and Cambridgeshire are growing rapidly. This leads to the challenge of providing an efficient transport system without destroying the unique qualities that make Cambridge and its surrounding area special. If you care about the way in which your city and county function, or if you care about how your city and county look, then you need to care about the City Deal.
- Autumn 2015 – City Deal team announced options for the Cambourne to Cambridge Better Bus Journeys scheme.
- Public exhibitions and a consultation survey
- 65% of people rejected the off-road busway scheme
- October 2016 – City Deal chose as their preferred option the off-road busway scheme Option 3/3A
- This option has an estimated cost of £207.8M at 2010 prices
- Currently – Detailed assessment and appraisal work being conducted on Option 3/3A and Park+Ride site
- September 2017 – Decision on route and Park+Ride site
- Winter 2017/18 – Further public consultation
Cambridgeshire local authorities have voted (November 2016) to form a strategic partnership, with an elected mayor that will have devolved powers from Central Government and additional funding, especially for housing and roads, which could expand the City Deal programme.
In May 2017, James Palmer was elected as the new mayor of the Combined Authority. He has proposed a new study, in partnership with the GCP, of a wider transport vision and all the options for Cambridgeshire, including light rail and a metro/tunnelling for Cambridge City. He has said he will not join the GCP Board, to maintain his independent over-view. He has questioned the GCP intention to continue and make decisions on Cambourne to Cambridge Better Bus Journeys before the new study is completed (expected November 2017).