This evening, Cllr Manning attended a meeting of the residents’ association forum. This is a regular meeting happening once every 6 months, which he first attended as Chair of The Vie Residents’ Association, before his election as a county councillor.
The meeting is a Lib Dem City Council initiative to engage local residents directly with officers.
The meeting covered:
Reorganisation of the City planning teams
Density issues in new developments
Pre-application planning meetings – for which there is now a charge resulting in a modest income for the planning department which will be reinvested
Update on the public access system for planning applications. Examples given included 2 days admin time saved on the north west Cambridge site.
Cllr Manning commented that the system is almost a victim of its’ own success for complex applications – and a summary of these would be very helpful
Officers mentioned that the local plan will be updated next year and the city council is keen to involve the public and residents’ associations as early as possible.
Officers indicated they are happy to meet with local groups in addition to the standard Cambridge-wide meetings. A real example of how the lib dem run City Council understands localism in a way the Tory run County Council doesn’t.
Officers updated on a number of decisions including the height of buildings, the adoption of the Green Infrastructure strategy, placing more importance on protecting open spaces.
The officers asked for guidance on how to run consultations.
Comments that came back were around the accessibility of officers and the formality of the events. Officers welcomed this but noted a common problem that they are constrained by national regulations.
At the end there was a presentation by the CEO of Cambridge Past & Present and Future, Caroline Gohler who talked about their work managing over 165ha of Green Belt Land and listed buildings around Cambridge.
Particularly important as they are the group behind the Green Infrastructure strategy which was passed only last Tuesday.
They also mentioned their “Vision 2030” campaign: an attempt to ask us what we want to be like 2 decades hence.