Morley Memorial school development gets go-ahead

Morley passed!

On Thursday 16th March, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Planning Committee passed plans for the developments at Morley Memorial Primary School.

The developments will bring the entire school onto a single site, and create three new classrooms, as well as make improvements to toilets, windows and the boiler, which will save the school money on maintenance. The details of the plans and the council report can be read here.

Local residents and Morley parents, staff and governors attended the meeting to listen to and participate in the debate. So did a prospective Morley pupil, a delightful gurgly baby called Hannah, whose presence reminded us what it’s all about.

Pamela McLeman and Mary O’Flynn, a former school caretaker, articulated concerns about loss of open space, and parking and traffic.

The Head, Nikki Brown, spoke of why the changes are needed and how they would improve the day-to-day logistics of school life as well as cater properly for pupils and staff with disabilities – and make all the children feel part of the school.

I spoke in support of the application, while recognizing the tension between traffic and the educational needs. You can read my speech here: Morley planning application

Councillors were impressed with the plans, praising the way the architectural design of the new build would blend with the old buildings, and showing an appreciation of how the school has balanced the need for play space. There was an understanding of the traffic and parking problems but an acceptance that parking is a problem at all schools, and that it was not of sufficient weight to stand in the way of the school’s improvements.

Construction traffic and pedestrians and cyclists do not mix, especially for young children and I asked if the condition on delivery hours could be amended to be well clear of school finishing time. I am pleased that this was taken up. Deliveries will now have to be completed by 2.45pm in termtime.

Contractors will be encouraged to use Park & Ride, as there will be no parking on Blinco Grove except for the school car park.

Morley Memorial development

mlysch1The County Council is planning to develop our local primary school on Blinco Grove, Morley Memorial – but the determination of the planning application has been deferred yet again, and is now scheduled for the Planning Committee meeting on 16th March.

It should have been determined last December, but the traffic statement contained serious omissions and was sent back for further work.

We hope that the decision will be made soon, to allow the school to get on with its development. For more information on the plans, see here.

 

Morley Memorial: plans for new classrooms plus a day nursery

mlysch1

An old photo, but not as old as the school, founded in 1899

The County Council intends to improve our primary school on Blinco Grove (dates from the 19th century) and to create a day nursery in the Early Years building on the corner of Baldock Way and Blinco Grove.

The planning application was to have been decided this month, but has been halted to allow more work on the transport statement. Unfortunately it contained serious inaccuracies, including a questionable claim about ‘sufficient unrestricted on-street parking available on the roads surrounding the school’. I wonder when they came?

The application is now intended to be determined on 16th February. If you haven’t seen the plans yet you can view them here. If you have commented, you should get a letter from the Council explaining what to do if you wish to speak at the meeting.

Morley Memorial plans

morley-plansOur local primary school, Morley Memorial, is up for improvements. The school is over 100 years old and some of its buildings need to be be brought up to modern standards.

The County Council has plans for the school to have three new classrooms plus long overdue repairs. The changes will enable the whole school to be on one site, bringing the Reception class from the two-storey Early Years house on the south side of Blinco Grove over to join the rest of the school. Having all the children at ground floor level and avoiding the need to get 50 small children across the road twice or three times a day will be safer and allow more time for education and play.

The Council intends to convert the Early Years building into a day centre, which will provide much needed day care places for children of working parents.

Morley’s governing body and the County Council have been working up the plans for years, and the planning application was lodged in September. Consultation has been very quiet, and there have only been two public representations, both objections. So the Council has extended the consultation deadline: you now have until the first week of January to comment. The application will be determined (by the County Council Planning Department) on 19th January.

 

Floating bus stops, what do you think?

floatingbusstopHills Road is to benefit from over a million pounds of government funding for a new road layout that aims to improve conditions for pedestrians, bus users and cyclists. There is a plan for segregated cycle lanes in three of the main roads into the city: Hills Road, Trumpington Road and Huntingdon Road.

An innovative feature of the scheme will be ‘floating bus stops’, which have proved successful in Brighton and London. This will avoid the danger of cyclists overtaking buses at stops, but it will be important to make sure it is safe for bus passengers.

The County Council is running a consultation begins next week, with exhibitions and events at various local centres. There has already been one at St John’s Church and there are more at Addenbrooke’s (Friday March 14th, 11.00am-2pm) and the Perse School ( Wednesday March 26th, 6,30-8.30pm).

For full details, see http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/CMSWebsite/Apps/News/Details.aspx?ref=1330

The meeting will also include a presentation from the neighbourhood police and planning applications, including one for flats in Queen Edith’s Way – yes, more flats.

The meeting begins at 7pm, with an Open Forum, at which anyone can ask questions or make statements.

Don’t play Bob the Builder with the Green Belt!

BobLast week, the Tory-led Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet voted to start putting together a business case for developing housing on Wort’s Causeway. The County owns 8.5 hectares of land to the south of Wort’s Causeway, known in the Local Plan consultation as GB2, GB1 being a slightly smaller parcel of land to the north.

I think this was premature. Both sites are still in the green belt, despite the fact that the City and District Councils’ Local Plans have proposed that they come out so they can be built on. As the Local Plan has not yet been decided, I think the County Council should wait before it starts playing Bob the Builder. To do otherwise is hugely disrespectful to the hundreds of people who have made representations about these sites. It is also speculative, making assumptions about the outcome of the Local Plan.

Although the County Council Cabinet takes major decisions, backbencher councillors are able to call in decisions and have them debated by overview and scrutiny committees. That is what I did, along with colleagues from Histon & Impington, East Chesterton and Fulbourn.

The paper was discussed at the Resources scrutiny committee this afternoon (download hereHousing call-in). Histon councillor Mike Mason and I addressed the committee and expressed our concerns regarding the prematurity of the decision, the principle of the County providing housing, and whether the business case development is properly provided for in the Council’s budget. I am pleased to say that the committee voted to refer the decision back to the Cabinet, who will now need to take a fresh look.

Watch this space.

Here is a transcript of what I said at the meeting today:

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Fancy a pint? Decision on a new ‘Queen Edith’ this week

Queen EdithIn three days’ time, we shall know whether we are to have a drinking hole once more in Queen Edith’s.

There was for many years a pub called The Queen Edith in Wulfstan Way. The definite article is appropriate, sinced it was the only pub in the Queen Edith’s ward.. The owners, Punch Taverns, didn’t support the pub properly, and in 2010 they applied to Cambridge City Council to knock it down and sell the site for housing. The application went to the South Area Committee in November 2010, which I chaired at that time.

Planning officers recommended councillors accept the application; however, we threw it out because we believed that the pub represented an important community facility – see previous post.

Sadly, although we had rescued the pub from the JCBs, we didn’t manage to save it from the VAT man. Just a few weeks later, the pub closed for financial reasons and it’s been boarded up ever since.

In 2012, it was sold to Danescroft Commercial Ltd who also have designs on the site: http://www.danescroft.co.uk/project-profiles/current-projects/queen-edith/. They too have applied to knock down the existing building, but the difference between Danescroft and Punch Taverns is that they plan a mixed scheme – 12 flats plus a new community pub with accommodation. That is what councillors will vote for or against on Wednesday.

The planning officer handling the application is recommending approval on the basis that ‘the redevelopment will provide a new public house, thereby retaining the existing community use on the site’. See the City Council’s website for the full report.

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.