Workshop showcases toolkit for sustainable development

Left to right: Cllr Bridget Smith (Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council), Martin Baker (Conservation Manager at Wildlife Trust), Christine de Ferrars Green (Partner at Mills & Reeve) and Rebecca Britton (Chair of the Developers Panel for Natural Cambridgeshire and part of Urban&Civic team)

Developers, planners and environmental consultants recently attended a workshop to understand how Natural Cambridgeshire’s Developing with Nature Toolkit can help them bring forward new homes and communities in a way that enhances the natural environment and increases the area’s biodiversity.

Greater Cambridgeshire is one of the fastest growing areas within England, with plans for significant additional development and major infrastructure to provide tens of thousands of new homes and significant new employment opportunities over the coming decades. The Toolkit will help to ensure that Cambridgeshire grows well and delivers a great quality of life for people and nature to coexist in harmony.

The Developing with Nature Toolkit has been produced to help developers and infrastructure providers to demonstrate their commitment to achieving a net biodiversity gain and comprises a simple list of “10 Things to do for Nature”.

Speaking at the event, Cllr Bridget Smith, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “With all of the growth planned for this area, it is vitally important we set the bar high and ensure developers work hard with local partners to deliver the green space needed for people and nature, as well as well-connected, energy efficient homes that provide affordable living for more people.

“This Toolkit highlights best practice and sets out a framework that pushes developers to deliver meaningful environmental benefits. We are also looking at how we can embed this within the planning process for South Cambridgeshire and across work being taken forward across the Oxford Cambridge Arc.”

New developments that adhere to sound sustainability principles can ensure the protection and enhancement of our natural environment by creating high-quality multifunctional habitats that protect and support a wide range of species. The provision of on-site and wider landscape-scale high-quality natural environments also enhances a new place and attracts additional investments.

Christine de Ferrars Green, Partner at Mills & Reeve, who hosted the workshop, said:

“We were pleased to support this event and help promote the Developing with Nature Toolkit to developers and partners within the property sector. It is clear that quality of life – for people and nature – is increasingly important within the planning process and also for customers, and this event enabled healthy debate about how the development community can use the Toolkit to take this forward.”

The Toolkit is primarily intended for major developments requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment and can be used from the very outset of planning new developments, early consultation and right through to detailed design. It provides a scoring matrix, guidance notes with links to background information, and includes a summary map of Greater Cambridgeshire’s strategic green infrastructure and ecological priorities.

Rebecca Britton, Chair of the Developers Panel for Natural Cambridgeshire, and part of the Urban&Civic team taking forward 3 strategic developments in Cambridgeshire said:

“The scale of developments we are taking forward at Alconbury Weald and Waterbeach mean you simply have to have close working relationships with key environmental partners, as well as extensive support from ecologists and landscape teams working at the heart of the design and delivery process. The Developers Panel and the Toolkit are about building support, examples and frameworks which can share best practice approaches at all scales of development. Planned well, new developments can play a transformative role in bringing forward and managing new habitats and green spaces, supporting species and connecting people to nature.”

Martin Baker, Conservation Manager at The Wildlife Trust, said:

“The Toolkit is about providing a framework that enables discussions about the best approaches from initial site selection, through consultation to delivery and long-term maintenance.

The scoring matrix should provide some measure for developers to test their own approaches, but some of the core benefits of this approach come from meaningful debate and ongoing relationships with environmental groups – from statutory partners in the DEFRA family to local wildlife groups and charities.

“We live in the least wooded county in the least wooded country in Europe, with only 4.8% of the county counted as wildlife-rich habitats. By working together we can ensure the growth planned for Cambridgeshire enables the best outcomes for nature and the local community, as well as a real sense of ownership and support for new developments.”

For more information see the Developing with Nature Toolkit.

Cambridgeshire is Naturally Healthy

Our highly successful Naturally Healthy Conference was held in March 2019 and following this we’ve published the presentations and case studies delivered by the guest speakers.


Findings from IWUN – Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature
by Dr Nicola Dempsey, University of Sheffield

Generating Health Benefits through Nature
by Professor Catherine Ward Thompson, Edinburgh University

Social Prescribing in the East of England
by Dr Mark Brookes, Nuffield Road Medical Centre

Case studies

Active Outdoors
By Michael Firek, Physical Activity Projects Manager at Living Sport

Delivering Health Benefits in the Natural Environment
by Carly Leonard, PECT

Life Chances Fund – Well Together
by Leonie McCarthy, PCVS

Developing with Nature Showcase

Natural Cambridgeshire and Mills & Reeve will be holding a joint event on Friday 8 March to showcase the Developing with Nature Toolkit. The Toolkit, which was launched in October, aims to support developers to bring forward new homes and communities in a way that enhances the natural environment and achieves a net gain in the area’s biodiversity.

Greater Cambridgeshire is one of the fastest growing areas within England, with plans for significant additional development and major infrastructure to provide tens of thousands of new homes and significant new employment opportunities over the coming decades. The Toolkit, with support from the partners, will help to ensure that together we make Cambridgeshire grow well and deliver a great quality of life for people and nature.

Please come along to our breakfast event to find out more about how the Toolkit can help your development achieve top marks and become an exemplar for people and nature.

Register for this event on the Mills & Reeve website.

Sponsored by

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Strategy

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority have recently launched their economic strategy for the area.  As well as recognising that it will be vital that “new development is done not just well, but in an exemplary fashion. It also acknowledges the need for “good place making which demonstrates that if transport and new housing are well-planned, then economic, social and environmental benefits can all be achieved.

Natural Cambridgeshire is working with the Combined Authority to ensure that the benefits of a high quality natural environment and green infrastructure is an important factor in attracting people to live and work in the area.


A natural future for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Where nature thrives, it provides us with clean water, fertile and healthy soils, natural flood control, greater biodiversity, natural pollinators and much more. Also, places with accessible, wildlife rich green-spaces attract more people to work and live there, improve health and wellbeing and provide leisure and recreation opportunities.

Our vision values the wildlife we have now and the tremendous opportunities presented to build a richer natural environment with benefits for everyone. Working together, we have the means to create that future.

Despite losses, nature is returning and there are wonderful wildlife sights in Cambridgeshire see the Ten reasons to value our natural environment throughout our new booklet.

Natural Cambridgeshire business plan

Natural Cambridgeshire are pleased to announce the launch of our new business plan, kindly supported with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It sets out and ambition and realistic plan for improving the natural environment of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough for the next three years.

We want to see “a Cambridgeshire that has the highest quality of life, because we place nature at the heart of our agenda. A Cambridgeshire which appreciates that to prosper people need a high quality environment in which nature thrives alongside jobs and housing.”

The business plan for the Natural Cambridgeshire:

  • draws agreed direction and preferred options from the Board workshop
  • sets out the organisation’s governance arrangements
  • relates the activities to the outcomes and Vision the LNP is aiming to achieve and meeting clear customer needs
  • sets out a single LNP work programme that aligns existing work streams with HLF funded work outcomes, using the remaining HLF funding efficiently and gaining best value
  • focuses on communication, marketing and funding requirements, and
  • identifies ways for monitoring and measuring success, through qualitative and quantitative indicators, specifying outputs, outcomes and impacts.

Heritage Lottery Fund grant to put nature at the heart

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded us a £10,000 grant to support and develop the work of the LNP. We will use the money to support our work across Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, putting nature and people at the heart of the decision-making process.

This money will help us to develop a business plan, identify sustainable funding options and run a programme of  events to listen to and work with local residents, business, farmers and developers to seek their ideas and views on how we can ensure the natural environment is protected and benefits alongside the ongoing growth agenda.