Pursuit of Quality

Charter With house building firmly becalmed in the doldrums, people could be forgiven for hoping that just something will begin to move - a sort of 'never mind the quality, feel the width' view. This would be very short term thinking - quality must remain central to building homes and communities for people.

The Cambridgeshire Quality Charter for Growth sets out principles for achieving excellence in the new developments planned for Cambridgeshire and focused on Cambridge. The Charter aims to ensure the area is an international leader in architecture, urban design, community development and low-carbon growth for years to come. Cambridgeshire Horizons, the local delivery vehicle for the huge growth agenda, worked closely with consultants, URBED, and the public, private and voluntary sectors to produce the Charter. Significant time has been spent looking and learning from best practice both at home and abroad.

The Charter is organised around four themes - 4Cs:

  • Community - places where people live out of choice, not necessity, creating healthy communities with a good quality of life.
  • Connectivity - places that are well-connected and enable easy access to jobs and services using sustainable modes.
  • Climate - places that anticipate climate change in ways that enhance the desirability of the development and minimise environmental impact.
  • Character - places with distinctive neighbourhoods where people create pride of place.

There is also a fifth C - collaboration - which is needed to make the principles of the Quality Charter work.

The Charter offers a shared vision and understanding of the kind of communities the partners wish to create. It breaks down barriers between professions and provides common guidance in a clear, shared language.

The partners are adopting the Charter as a policy statement of the aspiration to create new developments that offer future communities a fulfilling way of life. The local planning authorities will use the Charter as both part of the planning policy evidence base and as a material consideration in their decision-making, especially in determining planning applications.

Further 'looking and learning' study tours are planned which will encourage continued collaboration, reinforce the Charter message and address issues as they arise.

Although the Charter has been developed for Cambridgeshire, the principles are applicable to growth areas across the UK. Cambridgeshire Horizons and its partners are now working to encourage other organisations, both within the County and beyond, to sign-up to the Charter as a commitment to raising standards in new developments.

The Charter is available at www.cambridgeshirehorizons.co.uk/about_horizons

Brian Human
Vice - Chair