Objection to Mitcham’s Corner site

We've submitted an objection to the planning application for redevelopment of the Staples site. We want to see the gyratory removed and believe that this application must facilitate that objective.

13/0036/FUL Demolition of buildings and erection of a new building at 121-125 Chesterton Road, Cambridge CB4 3AT: OBJECTION

mitchamscorner

Cambridge Cycling Campaign takes no view on the principle of the erection of the new building for commercial floorspace and student accommodation.

However, we are concerned to ensure that any development here does not compromise our strongly-held objective to remove the gyratory, which remains a hostile barrier to cycling and walking. The statement in the Design & Access statement that collisions have been reduced by 60% does not in any way relate to the need to remove the gyratory altogether, so that cycling and walking through the area can be encouraged and so that the extremely poor streetscape and public realm of the area can be modernised.

Figure 20 (Cycle and Bus routes around Mitcham Corner) in the Design and Access Statement ably demonstrates the complexity of the current messy transport arrangements which surround the site. We feel strongly that the current application must become an enabling application that facilitates these aims, and that it should be judged accordingly.

The Campaign endorses the feedback from the Council and the Friends of Mitcham's Corner (reference Planning Statement para.9.7) that the application should be subject to how funds secured by the S106 Agreement are appropriately expended to secure local highway improvements, in line with the principles of the designs ([1], [2]) undertaken by the two student groups at the Department of Engineering.

In addition, the Campaign believes that funds must be allocated either to carry out a feasibility study of a major change to the way traffic flows around or through the area and/or to (part-)fund such changes.

We note that the developer states that "The width of the existing pavements will be increased to improve its existing use as a shared surface." In an area such as this, with high levels of pedestrian and cycle movement, entrenchment of shared-use is not acceptable. However, the Developer's proposal for widening the pavement and creating shared-use would be acceptable as a short-term measure if the aim of this is to facilitate the creation of space for proper, 2.1m cycleways on both sides of the inner ring road in this area as part of a wider change to the area that we propose above (in the form of a study to be followed by (part-)funding of implementation). Accordingly, as the Highway Authority notes in its comments, is important that the land is designated as public highway if this is to be the case.

In terms of the cycle parking, we are disappointed that, yet again, a developer is proposing predominantly basement provision rather than at-grade provision within the site. Our desire is to see new developments making cycle parking very accessible and near to the entrance/exit of the building. (We do however welcome the innovation of making some of the cycle parking be part of an artistic-style surrounding of the trees.)

We believe that the number of cycle parking spaces does comply with the requirements of the Cycle Parking Standards to the Local Plan. However, we cannot see any details of the distance between stands. Too many recent developments have proposed cycle parking that cannot be fitted in the space required, so we would like to see confirmation that sufficient space has been provided in accordance with the requirements. Neither the D&A Statement nor the Basement plan seem to show this. Indeed, the previous plans that we were asked to comment on for this site did not provide enough space.

Accordingly, we endorse the comments of the Highway Authority that "The applicant must show the dimensions for the proposed cycle parking layout." and that "Cycle parking for atypical pedal cycles and accoutrements must be provided within the mix of provision."

Please treat this as an objection until we can be satisfied on all the above points. In summary, we wish the City Council ensures that any approved proposals here will be an enabling application for renewal of the public realm of this area, and hope that the developer is able to implement changes towards this and will provide ring-fenced contributions for that objective.