Transcript of deputation by Emma Fletcher, Managing Director, SmithsonHill in relation to Planning Application S/4099/17/OL – Hinxton (Land to the East of the A1301, South of the A505 near Hinxton and west of the A1301, North of the A505 near Whittlesford). Presented at Planning Committee, South Cambridgeshire Hall, Wednesday 7th March 2018

Everyone in this room will be aware of the region’s unparalleled contribution to centuries of global progress.

And everyone in this room is also aware that in a globalising economy, hi-tech growth and jobs, if not offered a home in this region will be lost to other parts of the world.

To quote the leader of the council: “The point about the biomedical site is that it is not a ‘nice to have’ for a few people; it is a nice to have for the entire human race. Where do we want the next biomedical research to happen? Cambridge is a world renowned centre for research.”

And in just the same way, the AgriTech proposal before you today constitutes a powerful opportunity for synthesising the global and the local.

To start with the global:

When I was born there were roughly half as many people in the world as there are now. By the time I retire this will have increased by 23%, closer to 10 billion people.  In these three minutes, the global population will have increased by another 450 people, who will need to be fed in a sustainable way.

But to feed this many people we need a shift – not a small one but a seismic one.

You may feel that those global challenges are not your responsibility to solve.

So let’s look at what this country and this region will gain:

  • AgriTech is a pillar of the UK Government’s new Industrial Strategy. It is about bringing together the best minds, the best companies and the best research to change the farming and production sector for the better
  • Cambridge has always been a centre for agri-research and science including PBI and various plant breeders
  • A global centre of innovation and excellence here will add significantly to the improved productivity, economy and future challenges of Greater Cambridge and UK PLC in line with the aims of the draft National Planning Policy Framework published on Monday
  • With the significant global interest we have had to date, we know it’s the perfect location: suitable for crop trials as well as enabling access to producers on the Fens and to Europe via Stansted
  • It is not in a field miles away from the minds, but right in the heart of the South East Cluster of Science Parks, offering scope for collaboration, consolidation and near – to- market commercialisation.

The last 20 years have demonstrated that all these factors have been fundamental to the success of Cambridge’s ICT and biotech clusters.

But it would not be right to seek to gain even these substantial benefits if they come at the expense of the people who live and work locally.

We have worked hard to demonstrate our commitment to a community-focused vision where:

  • Key infrastructure is delivered early (including transport and electricity)
  • More open, connected and accessible spaces for walking, cycling and riding are created.

And we know that in less than five years’ time farm subsidies will be removed – this project offers a way to support British farming.

This is a ground-breaking project. It has evolved over time, it does not sit comfortably in any box with regard to timing or the Local Plan Review.  But it has the potential to be as significant to global farming and food production as Wellcome has been to genomics.

We have the opportunity to be at the forefront of something great – globally, nationally and locally and I encourage you to embrace this opportunity.