This article was published in 2020, in Magazine 148.
It’s important that as many people as possible have their say on this new city district. Anna Williams explores plans for cycling and explains how to submit your views.
Where is North East Cambridge?
The development area stretches out from Cambridge North station to the A14, encompassing the current site of the Anglian Water treatment works (for which a new location is currently being chosen), the Science and Business Parks and Cambridge Regional College. Most change will occur around the station and waterworks area with the bulk of the site’s 8,000 new homes in this location as well as new business space, shops, services, green spaces and community facilities. Physical connections and social cohesion with existing communities is important and there will be new links to take cyclists and pedestrians across current barriers like the Busway, the A14 and the north end of Milton Road. The plans are being developed by a shared planning team from Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council as the area covered crosses the boundary between the two.
What’s new about this development?
Both councils have declared a climate emergency and signed up to support the UK’s transition to net zero by 2050 through their planning policy. Local authorities are already battling traffic issues and the related problems this causes in terms of congestion, air pollution and public health, so it’s vital that a large new community like this (with homes for a population the size of Ely) does not make problems worse.
Therefore, the district’s vision describes an inclusive, walkable and low-carbon area focusing on aspects including sense of place, health and wellbeing, collaboration, integration with surrounding neighbourhoods and innovative responses to the climate and biodiversity emergencies. The draft plans promise that there will be a comprehensive network of safe and convenient walking and cycling routes, with priority over motor traffic within the area, making it much easier to walk or cycle than to use a car. Planners have set ‘trip budgets’ for motor traffic movements onto Milton Road and Kings Hedges Road at peak hours and, in order to meet this allocation, the whole North Cambridge area will have to reduce the proportion of car journeys (which is currently high, at around 70% of trips).
What are the highlights for cycling?
Cycle-friendly places are as much about thoughtful land use as dedicated cycling facilities and this new neighbourhood is designed to be a place where most everyday journeys can be made on foot or by cycle. Buildings will be mixed-use integrating homes, workplaces, services and shops, and the key ‘local centres’ of schools, libraries and community facilities have been located around a strategic cycle and walking network and away from main roads.
All streets will have design speeds below 20mph. Primary streets will have 4m footways and a minimum of 2.5m segregated cycleways and people using these will have priority over vehicular traffic in the main carriageway at all times. Secondary streets will be designed more like ‘Woonerf’ or cycle streets, with space for residents to play and socialise. Apart from disabled parking and drop-off areas, all other cars will be stored away from the streets in dedicated ‘car barns’.
What issues might there be?
Since the first consultation in 2014, Camcycle has been clear that good links to the surrounding areas will be crucial to the development’s success. While there are some good plans for crossings of Milton Road and the Busway, the issue of alternative road access to Chesterton Fen has not been resolved. With many more walking and cycling journeys coming from the new district, it will be important to provide a safe, high-quality link from the Cambridge North station area which connects up with both the Chisholm Trail and Riverside cycle routes and reduces conflict with motor traffic in this area. Closing the level crossing to motor traffic and providing a new road link between Chesterton Fen and Milton Road could solve this issue as well as improving active travel safety in East Chesterton. We are also concerned about the location of the new ‘Science Park local centre’ just off Kings Hedges Road, near Cambridge Regional College (CRC). In order to have a chance of meeting the new trip budget and to improve conditions for those walking and cycling around the area, the CRC/Kings Hedges Road junction will need major improvements (including roadspace reallocation) and the new local centre should be positioned away from the main road.
Key links to find out more
The North East Cambridge home page summarises the background to the plan. The first page of the consultation site has useful links to different parts of the document and explains how you can comment: tinyurl.com/NECconsultation
A good summary of the proposals including diagrams and graphics setting out the key principles which will guide the development. Within this page are ‘ten big questions’ that the councils would like everyone to answer.
Frequently asked questions
Questions, answered in text and video, many of which have come from people in local communities. It includes extra questions from the Zoom webinar sessions on the development – find out more at tinyurl.com/NECwebinars
Draft area action plan
The full 296-page document in pdf form (also available in print, for a £20 fee). All information is duplicated on the website, complete with supporting documents.
Submitting comments about cycling
Answer the 10 big questions
These could be completed in as little as five minutes. The key question related to cycling is Question 2 (Are we creating the right walking and cycling connections to the surrounding areas?).
Comment on policies
The connectivity policies 16-22 cover aspects including street hierarchy, cycle parking, cargo bike use for last-mile deliveries and managing motorised vehicles. Policy 7 (Legible streets and spaces) is also important, as it details how the site’s primary and secondary streets will be laid out to encourage walking and cycling and nurture a vibrant, safe and healthy community.
Consultation Deadline: 5 October
- Comments online are preferred – it’s quick and easy to register to do this. Submit a response anywhere that is marked by a blue speech bubble. tinyurl.com/NECconsultation
- Find more information on our blog: camcycle.org.uk/northeastcambridge
- You can also comment until 14 September on the waterworks relocation: cwwtpr.com/have-your-say