North East Cambridge: 10 big questions in less than 10 minutes

Greater Cambridge Shared Planning is currently consulting on plans for North East Cambridge and we encourage as many local people as possible to share their views before the deadline of 5pm on Monday 5 October. We’ve written a summary of the main cycling issues and compiled a guide to answering the 10 big questions the planners would like everyone to answer, but if you’re extra short on time, here are some short responses you can paste and edit.

You’ll need to to register on the planning site with a name, email and postal address to submit comments – this will take around two minutes to do and is necessary because of national regulations for plan-making. Note that a confirmation code will be sent to your email account. Your name will be published alongside your responses but your address, email and phone number, if you provide them, will not be published. Alternatively, if you prefer not to use the online system, you can use the downloadable Word form and post or email your response. Our first blogpost on the development gives more information on finding out more about the plans and submitting your views.

You can find the 10 big questions (and space for your comments) on this page of the consultation site.

Question 1. What do you think about our vision for North East Cambridge?

We recommend that you respond with NEITHER AGREE NOR DISAGREE

The vision and principles described sound good and support cycling and walking in the new district and surrounding areas. But how likely are they to be realised? Will this new district be another area that brings congestion and problems to nearby communities rather than benefits? Do the profits of landowners and developers have more influence than the needs of the local community?

Question 2. Are we creating the right walking and cycling connections to the surrounding areas?

We recommend that you respond with MOSTLY, YES

Developing the new district around key walking and cycling routes and removing barriers on the routes to nearby areas is very important and all the links marked on the map must be included. However, more improvements will be needed to make cycling and walking safe and convenient for all ages and abilities across North Cambridge and to make sure each route is suitable for the number of people that will be using it.

Question 3. Are the new ‘centres’ in the right place and do they include the right mix of activity?

We recommend that you respond with NEUTRAL

The Cowley Road and District centres are well-located on key cycling and walking routes with good access from neighbouring communities. Having a centre around the station also makes sense. However, the Science Park centre needs to be positioned away from the busy road junction. There should also be more sports and leisure facilities within the area and a broader mix of land-use within the west of the site.

Question 4. Do we have the right balance between new jobs and new homes?

We recommend that you respond with MOSTLY, NOT

There seem to be too many jobs in comparison to homes which will increase the number of people travelling into the area from outside and therefore unable to walk or cycle to work, creating more traffic around the whole of North Cambridge and the A14. A variety of jobs in an area of mixed-use buildings is welcomed so that many people can live close to their employment, but a better balance of homes and jobs is needed. Construction should be phased so that this balance remains stable at every stage of development.

Question 5. Are we are planning for the right community facilities?

We recommend that you respond with MOSTLY, NOT

A secondary school is very likely to be needed, along with more leisure and sports facilities as these are lacking in this part of the city. We support schools and leisure facilities being located on key walking and cycling routes so that children can travel safely and independently to their destinations from a young age. Schools, health facilities and other community buildings should be in place as residents move into the first homes to promote low levels of car use and ownership.

Question 6. Do you think that our approach to distributing building heights and densities is appropriate for the location?

We recommend that you respond with NEUTRAL

The approach to building heights and density should be determined by aspects such as liveability rather than external factors which could lead to overdevelopment. The framework for the area should begin with walking and cycle routes and generous amounts of green space. Individual buildings and areas should be designed to provide a pleasant and attractive experience for people to move through the area on foot or by cycle. Plenty of street trees should be used in areas of tall buildings to avoid wind tunnel effects. Wayfinding should be clear and simple.

Question 7. Are we planning for the right mix of public open spaces?

We recommend that you respond with MOSTLY, NOT

Green spaces and verges alongside transport routes and small neighbourhood greens and playspaces are welcome to help all residents boost their health and wellbeing. However, these do not displace the need for larger areas of open space both within and outside the development – some of this could include an expansion of Milton Country Park which will benefit from better cycling and walking links.

Question 8. Are we doing enough to improve biodiversity in and around North East Cambridge?

We recommend that you respond with MOSTLY, YES

It is important that existing havens for biodiversity in the area (such as those alongside the guided busway and Cowley Road cycle and walking routes) are safeguarded as well as additional measures undertaken to increase biodiversity across the site. We recommend that the land area used to build new cycleways needed by the development is matched by a similar sized area of land improved to increase biodiversity, either within the district or at sites nearby.

Question 9. Are we doing enough to discourage car travel into this area?

We recommend that you respond with MOSTLY, NOT

The street layout and design of the site includes many aspects which will help discourage car use including no through-routes and car parking which is not outside people’s homes. However, the plans rely heavily on good links to improved walking and cycling routes outside the area and the implementation of planned public transport schemes such as CAM metro. They also assume levels of car ownership which are too high for a low-carbon development: proposals should start with a more carbon-realistic limit on trips and parking spaces.

Question 10. Are we maximising the role that development at North East Cambridge has to play in responding to the climate crisis?

We recommend that you respond with NEUTRAL

Most of the climate targets for the development are not sufficiently ambitious and contributing to local zero carbon goals in terms of transport will be particularly challenging. Trip budgets for motor traffic should be calculated based on the carbon budget rather than current highway capacity. Cycle infrastructure should be designed in a way that is adaptive to climate change: for example, cycle routes should remain clear in the event of a 100-year rain event.