The green belt and the Cambridge Local Plan

local planAs I have been canvassing in this election, many people have asked me where I stand on the Cambridge Local Plan proposals – particularly the development sites in the Queen Edith’s area (Wort’s Causeway) which are currently in the Green Belt.

If elected to the County Council, I would not have a vote on this issue. However, I have put in a representation objecting to both the Wort’s Causeway proposals, as well as to CC911, an earlier proposal that was much more extensive. On the City Council website, you will find my comments summarized. Here they are:

The numbers proposed would overwhelm the existing residential community. Wort’s Causeway doesn’t have that many houses, and an extra 250-500 would overwhelm them.

The proposed developments are likely to compromise existing travel patterns, both private and public – in particularly, the operation of the Park & Ride buses. They would put extra pressure on local schools, and medical facilities; the schools are already full, and doctor’s surgeries in nearby Wulfstan Way are already busy.

Commenting on the Cambridge Local Plan

There are just a few days left to comment on the Cambridge Local Plan review, if you haven’t already. It is important for this area, as there are proposals to release land near Wort’s Causeway for housing – over 500 housing units between two sites shown on the map here.

Hundreds of people have commented, expressing concerns about the impact on the infrastructure that so many new houses would have. Building there would have a major impact on traffic movements, and could also compromise the viability of the Park & Ride service, affecting transport beyond the local area.

Many would miss the green space, and resist the encroachment of more building on what is now countryside. Building here would spoil a lovely approach to the Gogs and the Roman Road, and there would be implications for biodiversity, as there are many ancient hedges in the area that would be lost.

You have until 5pm on Tuesday to comment, on the Wort’s Causeway proposals or any other aspects of the Local Plan Review. One interesting idea is a community sports stadium – do we need one? Where should it go?

Some sites have already been identified by the City Council as unsuitable, eg CC911, land between Babraham Road and Fulbourn Road. It would strengthen the Council’s hand to have residents’ views on that site too, as developers have been pressurizing them to take this area of land out of the green belt too. So far there has been little comment, unless there is a pile awaiting approval of course.

It was easier than I thought it would be to comment on line. There is a document for each separate proposal; most comments are under 100 words. Do have a look and have your say.

http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/content/planning-and-building-control/planning-policy/local-plan-review/issues-and-options-2.en

Cambridge Local Plan: deciding the shape of Cambridge for the next decade

local plan

By law, local authorities must set a Local Plan for their areas, stipulating what kind of development can take place where. It covers employment and leisure facilities as well as housing, so it very much determines where people live and work and how they get about.

It is the master document against which individual planning applications are assessed, and incorporates local planning policies. For example, an important policy being proposed for the Cambridge Local Plan this time round is special protection for pubs, to preserve pubs as community facilities.

On Saturday, there was an exhibition on the options for the Cambridge Local Plan at Netherhall School Sports Centre in Queen Edith’s Way.

Plans were on display showing sites in the city that could be allocated for residential, employment or other uses. There was also an option for a community sports stadium, near the football ground.

One of the options is causing a great deal of local concern: it is to build on either side of Wort’s Causeway, at present in the Green Belt. Over 500 new homes are proposed. This is a very large number of new properties, and there are concerns not only about the encroachment into the Green Belt, but also about road access, and how new development would affect the Park & Ride service. (more…)

Another round for the Queen Edith

Lib Dem Focus Team outside the old Queen Edith in 2003

Many people will remember that in November 2010, the City Council’s South Area Committee, chaired by myself, turned down an application to replace the Queen Edith pub with a purely residential development. We argued that the pub was an important community facility, as there is no other public house nearby, nor anywhere else serving food and drink in the evenings.  You will also remember there was a vigorous local campaign to keep the pub, with a 271-signature petition in its support.

Sadly, the Queen Edith closed in December 2011 for financial reasons. It was acquired in March 2012 by Danescroft Commercial Developments Limited. Danescroft have now applied for planning permission to redevelop the site. They propose to replace the existing building with a new community pub incorporating staff accommodation, plus 12 2-bedroomed flats. They have consulted widely already, so you may already have seen their ideas. Residents on Wulfstan Way and Queen Edith’s Way closest to the pub have been notified by Cambridge City Council.

The most noticeable difference between their proposals and the existing set-up is that the new pub will be at the front of the site and be seen from Wulfstan Way – more attractive than cars to look at when walking past, and more welcoming to customers. Cycle and car parking will be behind the pub – but fewer car spaces than at present, as it is less usual to drive to the pub these days. The flats have their own parking.

One unusual feature of the new pub is a ‘green roof’, which will have plants growing on it. This will absorb rainwater, provide insulation and have other environmental benefits.

You can look at the plans at the City Council’s Customer Services Centre in Regent Street, or on the council’s website http://idox.cambridge.gov.uk/online-applications/ (key in the application reference number 12/1616/FUL). It is expected that the application will be decided by the Council’s main planning committee, at the Guildhall.

Comments are accepted until 29th January.

To comment on the application, write, quoting the reference 12/1616/FUL, to:

Head of Planning

PO Box 700

Cambridge CB1 0JH

The application will be decided in February, by the main Planning Committee at the Guildhall.

 

South Area Labour chair moves local planning applications to the Guildhall

Cambridge city councillors will determine six planning applications on 19th November – half of them for sites in Queen Edith’s and the other half for Trumpington. If you want to speak on the applications or listen to the debate, you will need to go into town, as they are being heard not locally at the South Area meeting, but at the Guildhall.

All three of the Queen Edith’s applications have objections to them and are controversial, so it is surprising that the meeting is not to take place in the area where people live. It is a regressive step to take local decision-making out of the community and require residents to go to the Council rather than the other way round, but possibly a sign of what we can expect now that the committee is chaired by a Labour councillor.

Here is an agenda, and a short summary of the applications in Queen Edith’s:

  • 12/0956/CLUED – Cantabrigian RUFC, Sedley Taylor Road |Certificate of Lawfulness for the car park at the HRSFC sports pavilion to be used as such
  • 12/1033/FUL – 100 Glebe Road |New house to replace existing garage
  • 12/1020/FUL – 167 Queen Edith’s Way| Extension

For details of these applications use this link   http://idox.cambridge.gov.uk/online-applications/ and enter the reference number.

The meeting starts at 7.30 p.m. and will be in the Committee Rooms at the Guildhall. It is open to the public but you can only speak if you have made a written representation to the application on which you wish to speak. You also need to give notice to the Committee Manager by noon on the 16th November.

A Queen Edith II?

The Queen Edith Public House on Wulfstan Way closed at the turn of the year. I miss it.

Readers will remember that the previous owners, Punch Taverns, made an unsuccessful bid to demolish their pub and replace it with housing. This was vigorously opposed by local residents, and when it went to the Cambridge South Area meeting for decision, was rejected by councillors.

Despite being saved from the JCBs, the pub later fell to the VAT-man, and all this year, we have been without a pub on Wulfstan Way. In fact, there is no pub within the Queen Edith’s ward at all.

So I am pleased to see that the new owners of the property, Danescroft Commercial Limited, are proposing to create a new mixed development on the site, comprising flats and a community pub.

Here is a leaflet outlining their proposals. What do you think?

You may receive a printed version if you live near the site, but Danescroft kindly said we could link to it here as well. Please send any comments in to Mr Andrew Hodgson at the address on the leaflet by 1st November so that local views can inform the detailed planning proposal.

County gives top billing to Light The Cycleway and Long Road improvement proposals

It was a pleasant surprise to come back from holiday to see that the County Council has given top billing to my proposal for lighting the Guided Bus cycleway in a report going to Cambridge councillors tomorrow night (Wednesday 5th Sept).

This year I have been leading a campaign calling for better lighting along the city stretch of the Guided Busway bridleway, following a spate of accidents.

Cyclists have been injured while riding there, and others, especially women and older people, fear for their personal safety on dark stretches of the path.

Together with Trumpington councillor Caroline Shepherd, I launched a petition asking Cambridgeshire County Council to install lighting along the cycle path in Queen Edith’s and Trumpington.

The petition was supported by many working people and had the support of trade union UNITE. It garnered 230 signatures and I presented it to Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet on 22nd May. You can read an account of that here.

The cycleway is a fantastic facility for cyclists and pedestrians; it is well used, but the lack of lighting on most of the route poses a serious safety risk, especially as the days get shorter and it becomes dark both in the mornings and evenings.

Lighting this track provides an opportunity to make a good thing even better, and I am delighted that the County Council has put this project top of its list on value for money. I look forward to seeing progress.

Another scheme with very high scoring is a plan to remodel the Long Road cycleways by widening and resurfacing the existing shared us, to improve access for the thousands of people who walk or bike down Long Road en route to school or college as well as Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The case for this was eloquently presented to the South Area meeting by Hills Road resident Sam Davies.

The funding for transport schemes is to come from developer contributions as part of their planning obligations. You can see the report and a list of all the projects under consideration here.

If you would like to lobby for any of the schemes being considered, contact your local councillors.

Defend local pubs and independent shops

On Tuesday 10th July Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, will propose new measures to defend local pubs and independent shops from being taken over. Under the current system, councils and local residents often have no opportunity to stop the process.

Julian will ask to bring a Bill preventing the demolition or change of use of a pub or local independent shop without planning permission. Planning permission would also be needed before premises or land could be used for a supermarket.

If you agree that pubs and independent shops need greater protection against being lost, please sign Julian’s petition here.

Cambridge City Council throws out Labour shared housing motion

Last night, Cambridge City Council roundly defeated the Labour Party motion to cap shared housing in Cambridge.

The motion followed speeches from members of the public who had come to the Guildhall to address their concerns about the motions to councillors. They expressed their disquiet at the potential shortage of accommodation which might ensure if Labour restricted the number of shared houses, the unreasonableness of making ordinary families with lodgers register as HMOs, and the desirability of mixed communities.

I was first to oppose the motion, and you can read a transcript of my speech on Richard Taylor’s site, and here is a link to Richard’s recording of the anti-house share debate on YouTube.  Thank you Richard for getting an account of the debate on line so quickly.

Liberal Democrat councillors put forward an amendment to Labour’s motion, keeping the first few words which “the vital contribution that well-run houses make in providing homes for family, students, professionals and migrant workers” but dropping the parts about widening the scope of HMO designation and restricting numbers.

Lib Dems asked for an annual report to be brought to the council’s Community Services Committee detailing the number and type of complaints received by the Environmental Health Department in all types of housing in the city and how they have been dealt with, including the number of prosecutions.

How would you improve transport in the south of Cambridge?

Transport and traffic are two of the hottest topics of debate in Cambridge. So I know there are lots of ideas for improving transport. Now it looks as though we may be able to put some of them into practice.

By law (Town & Country Planning Act 1990), councils may require money from developers to offset the impact of their developments. As this is laid out in Section 106 of the Act, the contribution is dubbed ‘Section 106 money’ by councillors. I do not know what the developers call it.

Cambridgeshire County Council is asking us for our ideas on how this money should be spent in the south of Cambridge. Projects should ‘mitigate the effect of the additional transport-related movements from new development’. The officers have come up with two proposals already:

  • a link between the Hills Road Bridge and the Guided Busway cycle route
  • a clean-up of signage on the ring road

They are asking us for further suggestions, and we shall be discussing proposals at the next South Area Committee on 5th March (Cherry Hinton Village Centre). So please let me have your brilliant ideas – come to the meeting too, if you can, as it is open to everyone.  If you’d like to join in the discussion, why not post a comment here?

OK, I’ll get things started: My idea is signage and low-level lighting on the Guided Bus cycleway. What’s yours?