I was on the Paul Stainton show this morning,just after 0730, talking about Cambridge and growth.
The background to the story, it seems, revolves around a growing feeling that planning authorities, and in particular Cambridge City Council, see business planning applications as sport before refusing. If true this is a very damaging situation and their may be some evidence to support this view.
An application to extend the Doubletree by Hilton hotel has just been refused for the third time. Read the article in the Cambridge News.
Similarly, an expansion planned by the Gonville Hotel has been refused. See CN article.
Add to that the remarkable refusal to allow a sports complex, including a new ground for Cambridge United, to be built in Trumpington and the failed attempt to build on Marshal land you can see a picture emerging.
Their are clearly tensions between the aspiration of a growing, thriving city and the planning process and more importantly the needs of those that work and live in the city.
The country needs Cambridge to be successful and to remain so. It needs to adapt and embrace change. Nobody wants inappropriate development but neither can Cambridge turn into a museum.
If planning applications are being rejected two and three times what is wrong with the pre application process? This is when help and guidance is offered to ensure everything is built is sensible and sensitive to the area.
But surely, saying a hotel is big and rejecting it, is a bit like saying Ely Cathedral should never have been built!!!!
These planning delays send out entirely the wrong message to business and racks up costs. Whilst we dither in Cambridge another 10 hotels have been built in China.
We must remind ourselves we compete on the world stage and others are catching up fast. We have no right to be successful and it could all go in a flash.
The planning committee at Cambridge City Council is a handful of councillors, well meaning but often with little experience of the bigger world and driven by populous decision to ensure they get re-elected.That is our political system but those politicians need to think bigger than that.
What is required is leadership with vision, passion, determination and bravery. I don’t see that in Cambridge at the moment.