South Cambridgeshire is a largely rural constituency west and south of Cambridge. It comprises about 900 square km with small towns and residential areas south of Cambridge, new settlements, such as Bar Hill, Cambourne and Northstowe as well as over 70 villages. The traditional industry is agriculture and around 5% of businesses in the county are involved in agriculture 1. The electorate has increased from 65 000 when the constituency was established in 1997 to just under 86 000 in 2019.
Peter Friend 2 provides a good description of the geography of East Anglia. The constituency may be split into roughly three areas. In the south, the Cretaceous chalk, greensand and gault clay occur; in the central part of the constituency is the plateau formed by chalky boulder clay left by the last ice age and in the north, merging with the southern part of the fens is an area of heavy Jurassic clays. Throughout the area deposits of glacial outwash occur thus creating a complex soil pattern, especially in the river valleys.
The mature or ‘climax’ vegetation of the constituency would be oak and mixed broadleaf woodland. According to the Doomsday Book in 1086, only 3.5% of the area of Cambridgeshire was covered with woodland 3. Following the development of land drainage schemes in the late twentieth century the area is ideally suited to arable agriculture, with isolated pockets on lighter land suitable for fruit and vegetable production. Rainfall is around 500 mm annually.
Employment is largely associated with the University, with commuting to London, healthcare and as a result of the surge in IT and Bio Sciences centred on the University, Addenbrooke’s and the Royal Papworth Hospitals.
Not surprisingly, a survey by Grant Thornton in 2017 suggested that the area is in the top 40% of Districts nationally 4.
- Friend, P (2008). Southern England. Harper Collins, London W6 8JB, ISBN 978-0-00-724742-4.
- Rackham, O (1986). The History of the Countryside. J M Dent, London WC2H 9EA, ISBN 0-75380-173-6
(sources were accessed 24th November 2019, authors Anon, unless noted)