Plans for a new multi-storey car park and 227-room aparthotel on Park Street were approved at Cambridge City Council’s planning committee on 17 December 2019, but with the condition added that improvements must be made to the proposals for cycle parking. This was a direct result of our plea to councillors to allow more time to work out the details of the cycle park to ensure it is accessible for all types of rider and cycle. Speaking on Camcycle’s behalf, our Executive Director Roxanne De Beaux shared our concerns that the proposed high-low stands were not suitable for larger cycles such as tricycles, cargo cycles and adapted cycles and that some aisle widths in the facility were too narrow, blocking access to the parking area. Our points were echoed by Cllrs Thornburrow, Baigent and Sargeant who highlighted the need to allow for the growth in popularity of cargo bikes and to consider older cyclists or those with health and mobility issues who would find it difficult to lift cycles into the high-low stands.
We also reminded the committee of the council’s prior commitments to reducing the city’s carbon footprint and tackling congestion. Our statement said, ‘We remain of the view that any car parking provision in the city centre should be completely minimised, apart from serving the needs of blue badge holders. The council has declared a climate emergency and the city centre access strategy intends to reduce car use.’ Cllr Peter Lord also raised the issue of the city council relying on car parks as a key source of income. This seems to be in complete opposition to its environmental goals and suggests the council needs to review its funding for the future.
However, despite the approval given for the car park, the council’s Planning Director Stephen Kelly said that flexibility would be built into the plans. We welcome his reassurance that car parking levels would be designed to permit changes of use over time, such as a transition to a greater number of cycle parking spaces. Our meetings with council have already resulted in positive change (including the removal of one of the motor vehicle access lanes into the car park and all plans for semi-vertical stands) and we’ll continue to press for suitable cycle parking provision for larger and adapted cycles. This is a project we have been campaigning on since consultations on the future of the current facility first began in 2014 and we are determined to ensure good provision for cycle parking in this area.
We are disappointed that the current pushchair loan scheme for cycling families will be discontinued in the new facility and agree with the comments made at committee that a Changing Places public toilet here is of vital importance to the community. If needed, we would be happy to help find a rearrangement of the cycle parking provision in order to make space for an accessible public toilet.
The process has also highlighted the need to cover cargo cycle parking provision in the Local Plan. With a new six-week consultation on the joint Local Plan for Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council beginning on 13 January 2020, we’ll be continuing to campaign for the inclusion of requirements for inclusive, high-quality cycle parking as well as safe and accessible routes for walking and cycling.