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.

Labour cap on shared houses

The latest motion to appear from the Cambridge Labour Group alarms me greatly. They are raising concerns about shared houses, and call for a report on limiting the number of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). Labour wants to widen the HMO term to include homes with lodgers as well as shared houses of young single people (though whether this is legal or not we do not know). And they are contemplating a cap on the number of shared houses in individual streets.

I find the motion nasty in the way in which it demonises people who share as ‘troublemakers’.  When we first moved to Queen Edith’s, one set of next-door neighbours was a large family with children; the other had Anglia Ruskin students. We never had any noise or disturbance from the students; the family with children, though friendly and sociable, was noisier by far!

I fear for the motion’s effects on those who rent and share houses because they cannot afford to buy in Cambridge, as well as for the many families who depend on extra income, say, from renting out spare bedrooms to students from the universities or language schools. And quite honestly, not everybody fits into the nuclear family mould – why should we all conform?

My colleague Tim Ward, who runs the Cambridge Accommodation Noticeboard, details the problems http://www.brettward.co.uk/canb/threat.htm.

Here is the motion, proposed by Petersfield councillor Gail Marchant-Daisley:

The Council recognises the vital contribution that well-run Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) make in providing housing for families, students, professionals and migrant workers.

However, given problems from some HMOs failing to deliver quality, safe housing, or creating serious problems for neighbours, the Council requests the Executive Councillor for Housing to bring forward a report to assess options to improve the operation and regulation of HMOs in Cambridge, including:

1) extending the current HMO definition to include all properties with 3 or more people in two or more unrelated households, regardless of the building layout

2) improved enforcement of breaches of licences granted to HMOs, and

3) wider adoption of best practice on HMOs by comparable cities including Oxford,

and that the Head of Planning Services also report to the Executive Councillor for Planning and Sustainable Transport and the Development Plan Scrutiny Sub-Committee on the future option of denying permission for additional HMOs in any street or 200 metre stretch of any street where HMO numbers reach 25% of residential properties, to enable inclusion of this proposal in the summer ‘issues and options’ consultation on the Cambridge Local Plan 2014 to 2031.

Other motions this Thursday are on:

  • taking more local decisions at area committees, eg tree works, safety grants
  • recording protocol for council meetings
  • housing maintenance contract
  • Marshalls
  • supporting Post Offices

I attach the full agenda. The meeting is open to the public and starts at 6 p.m. in the Guildhall this Thursday.

Diamond Jubilee/ Olympics Street Parties

Are you considering a street party to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee or the Olympics this summer?

Cambridge City Council is waiving its usual road closure fees for parties in Cambridgeshire marking the Diamond Jubilee or the Olympic Games. The application process has been simplified too, to make it easier for people to mark the two big events. Anyone who would like to hold a party can contact the City Council on 507176, or visit the Council’s website on this topic.

People putting on the party as part of a group might also want to consider applying for a grant to help pay for it. The South Area Committee has funding for community events, and should contact the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation to find out how to apply – telephone 41535, or email [email protected]

50 THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT JUBILEES

The Queen is the oldest monarch to celebrate a Jubilee. But who was the youngest? Find out here:

What would be your top three choices for new mobility crossings?

18 years of dropped kerbs!

Could I have a dropped kerb on Blinco Grove, please?

That was the very first thing I was asked to do as a new councillor back in 1994 when I was first elected. The request came from a lady who used a wheelchair and needed a dropped kerb near her home, (‘mobility crossing’) in order to cross the road. I am sorry to say that I had a forest of bureaucracy to fight through before we got the dropped kerb. Nevertheless, it is a request that comes up time and time again.

I was pleased to help, but it was only when I tried to cross East Road wheeling a friend’s toddler in a pushchair that it really came home to me how difficult it is to do a simple thing like crossing the road if the varying levels of kerb and road mean your wheels don’t work. At the time, I drew a deep breath and heaved up the pushchair  – and thought about how much harder this would be for someone in a wheelchair.

Over the years I’ve been a councillor there have been many new dropped kerbs in Queen Edith’s. Although the public highways are really the responsibility of the County Council, the City Council has funded many dropped kerbs through its environmental improvements programmes. I think the most recent one round here is on Hills Road, to allow easier access from the hospital to Nightingale Avenue.

If you have ideas for new ones in the south of the city, please tell me or one of the other councillors. as there is a possibility we may have funding for a few new ones.