Sam Davies

The state of planning

This week, Cambridge 105, our local community radio station, invited me to take part in a wide-ranging discussion of the planning system.

The show was hosted by Lewis Herbert, City Councillor for Coleridge ward, Leader of the City Council until November 2021 and Director of the Planning Skills training programmes for Place Services. The other contributor was Peter Studdert, a qualified architect and town planner, who served as Director of Planning at Cambridge City Council from 1991-2004 and who has advised a number of Government advisory committees including the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission in 2019/20.

It was a good opportunity to swap views and experiences about the state of planning in England and the implications for Cambridge, particularly with reference to the role played by community involvement, a topic which is very close to my heart.

The show will be repeated on Tuesday (14 March) at 6pm, or you can listen below. We will be recording a follow-up programme – covering the Local Plan process specifically – for broadcast in May. I hope you find it interesting.

In the meantime, if you are interested in following up on any of the links mentioned in the discussion, start here!

Sam Davies


  • Many thanks Sam for your input. Very interesting views. I find myself asking more questions than there are answers to this rapid development saga. A particular issue being the neighbourhood next to yours Cherry Hinton. This like Queen Edith’s is now subject to major traffic flows, congestion and pollution. There seems to be no joined up thinking on creating even more housing on a huge scale on the Marshall’s site, which obviously brings more pressure on existing services. We are now a main route through to Addenbrookes and all the new research parks which are imposed upon us. This is even before congestion charge and a 40% growth over the years to Cambridge. I ask myself where are these people going to come from and how can they afford such house prices. No mention much of affordable housing. We are l think creating a 2 tier city. Nothing changes for local authority housing except to pull down existing and squeeze even more in the same footprint place, such as Colville Road. Obviously what happens in Cherry Hinton spills over into Queen Edith’s area.

  • Thank you for this – an interesting listen and I’ve learnt a new word, ‘solastalgia,’ which beautifully sums up what sits behind the concerns and priorities expressed by residents consulted in ongoing work on the Stapleford and Great Shelford Neighbourhood Plan. We’ve heard a lot about the impact of development on quality of life and our villages’ identities and characters. Good to have one word to express and validate how people feel. 

  • As always extensive information conveyed in accessible ways so I can dig in and out as time, life and motivation allows. Many thanks for bringing all this together to give residents an insight into the strategic level of planning. Something that impacts on all residents yet often we do not realize or engage with unless its impact is obvious to us in our daily lives.

  • Just listened to this, enjoyed it a lot… One thing I think that was missing was the critique that simply expanding pre-existing forms of engagement amplifies priveliged voices and omits perspectives from younger people, BAME etc. This was a great paper that explored the possibilities of deliberative engagement:
    + it could certainly be applied to things like Local Plans… Interested to hear the next podcast!