In common with other villages within easy access of Cambridge, Willingham has undergone considerable development and expansion since the 1970s, with the census of 1981 showing a population of 2540, that of 1991 showing 3350 and 2001 showing 3436. Official estimates in 2006 gave a figure of 3750 with 1687 households listed on the 2008/09 electoral register. Today that figure is over 1800 and the population must be over 4000, which amounts to an increase of 57% in 35 years!
This recent growth in population is a reflection of great changes in the Cambridge area as a whole. This has brought many people to the area, and the villages, Willingham among them, have become to some extent ‘commuter villages’. Those people who still work in Willingham (and around 28% of the parish plan questionnaire (2007) respondents still work in or within five miles of Willingham) are engaged in a much wider variety of occupations than those which were the hallmark of the village throughout the first half of the 20th century.
The changes in the pattern of life in Willingham, particularly those which have occurred during the past half century, can be described without exaggeration as dramatic. Nevertheless the village has continued to be a vibrant community, with many facilities to offer to its residents.
At the Public Meeting (2008) organised by the Parish Plan Committee as its first task, the question was asked ‘What is good about Willingham?’ and it was very clear that there is much that is good. In particular, it was agreed that it was still a ‘real’ village with a village atmosphere, with its own identity, and self-contained in terms of having shops, a library and an excellent primary school and medical practice. In addition, it generally felt safe and has some pleasant green spaces. More recently, the increase in traffic through the village is seen as a problem by many residents and, while there is now the Guided Busway, the bus service to the Busway and to Cambridge is poor and Willingham does not have the safe cycle-ways that other villages possess as links to nearby villages.