Michael Gove's Cambridge 2040 plans have been repeatedly opposed by local authoritiesLouis Ashworth for Varsity

Cambridge University has welcomed a new £10 million government investment in the city, while the development plans have again been attacked by local councillors.

The funding was announced yesterday (06/03) in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s budget speech.

The £10 million will go towards “unlocking […] crucial local transport and health infrastructure” in the area, as part of the Cambridge 2040 initiative, which has been championed by secretary of state for levelling up Michael Gove.

The University has praised the handout, saying that the funding will “help pave the way for sustainable growth,” and “unlock” Cambridge’s potential as “the world’s leading scientific powerhouse”.

On the Government’s Cambridge 2040 plans, which centre on the area’s research and scientific initiatives, the University said: “It recognises the unparalleled research and scientific capabilities that the city holds and its potential to be the world’s leading scientific hub.”

“It also rightly points to the issues that threaten this vision, from housing prices to water shortages and transport gridlock,” Cambridge said of the plans.

However, local authorities have once again criticised the government’s Cambridge 2040 initiative. The city council’s Lib Dems claimed that the initiative “could see planning powers taken out of local hands and into a government-appointed development corporation, enabling local people to be overridden and adding another layer to Cambridge’s already complicated web of local government.”

“The Liberal Democrats instead want the government to spend their time and money on delivering the vital water infrastructure needed to deliver the existing local plan, let alone future local plans for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire,” the statement added.

The University, in their statement, echoed council leaders in calling for the issue of water scarcity to be addressed by the government’s plans for the area.

“Greater certainty around both long-term water supply and plans set out to offset demand in the short term can help support the growth of Cambridge in a way that is both sustainable and supports the economic potential of the area,” Cambridge University said.

Daniel Zeichner, Cambridge’s Labour MP, has also criticised the latest development in the initiative, saying: “The on-going Michael Gove saga continues, with very little new of substance being announced today.”

“What Cambridge needs is not more policy papers, but for the Government to genuinely unlock the water resources to allow current planned development to proceed, and access to the wealth Cambridge creates to allow us to build the transport systems we need,” Zeichner said.


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Cheney Payne, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Cambridge criticised the plans for taking power out of the hands of local authorities, saying: “There is nothing about [the] need for housing that means we need a development corporation, other than an excuse to take more power for Whitehall,” she added.

“The government should fund the infrastructure that will be needed for new housing, most critically for water, and let planning be carried out through locally accountable representatives,” she continued.

“Michael Gove is just adding another layer of complication to Cambridge’s already tangled mess of local government,” Payne concluded.

The Lib Dems have also started a petition opposing the Cambridge 2040 plans.