Planning applications

This article was published in 2021, in Magazine 151.

21/00264/FUL Blocks B2 and F2 in the ‘Devonshire Quarter’

You may recall that, in October last year, the city council planning committee refused consent for two large blocks on Cambridge station car park. The grounds for refusal were the poor quality of cycling provision, and the inappropriate scale and mass of one of the buildings.

In February, Brookgate submitted a revised application. It has adopted the protected cycle lane proposed by Smarter Cambridge Transport and Camcycle. That will link Devonshire Road with a parallel zebra crossing of Great Northern Road, level with the back of One Station Square, bypassing the mini-roundabout.

The developers state that the new designs for the proposed cycleway include a smooth connection available for the future Chisholm Trail (subject to securing all necessary rights and approvals) and to the Carter Bridge, with a wide and open junction that caters for all movements. They propose a 2.5m-wide footway along the facade of building F2 and say they have protected pedestrian desire lines by including refuge spaces in the new design. A clear separation between the cycle lane and pedestrian spaces is proposed to be provided through contrasting block paving types delineated by a low upstand battered kerb of light colour.

That’s a huge improvement, thanks in large part to the timely publication of LTN 1/20, which sets out clearly what constitutes safe cycling infrastructure. Brookgate is unwilling to propose any modifications to Station Square for the direct route to Station Road that Camcycle believes remains important. Any solution there would need to reallocate space from the pick-up/drop-off, not from the pedestrian area.

The design of the busy link with Devonshire Road needs further improvement to allow more space for pedestrians and safeguard the route of the Chisholm Trail.

Issues still remain with the new application. Contrary to Brookgate’s assertions, the proposed multi-storey car park is not suitable for partial conversion into a cycle park. The Cyclepoint will fill up (if security issues are resolved). Even now we need more space for non-standard cycles, and more ground-floor space for people who struggle with the ramps. So, it is essential the new building is future-proofed to accommodate an expansion of the existing cycle park – just as soon as the rail industry takes more seriously its responsibilities to facilitate access to stations by foot and cycle.

Another issue is with the design of the busy link with Devonshire Road. For people walking to or from Mill Road, the layout will be only marginally improved. People will still walk along the cycle lanes rather than across them. It needs the parking spaces alongside the cycleway to be removed to make way for a lengthened pavement and a screen of trees and shrubs. However, Greater Anglia seems willing to fight to the death over every last parking space.

Edward Leigh
Smarter Cambridge Transport

Camcycle and Smarter Cambridge Transport have petitioned for a Development Control Forum on this application which is scheduled to be held on 16 June. Find out more and join the discussion on Cyclescape thread 2838.

16/1134/OUT West Cambridge intensification

Further development is planned for the University of Cambridge’s West Cambridge site between Madingley Road and the Coton path.

Proposed Access and Movement plan for the site showing ‘streets’ in purple (solid for primary, dotted for secondary) and ‘pedestrian/cycle routes’ in green (solid for primary, dotted for secondary).

We objected to the plans because they do not abide by the policies set out in the Cambridge Local Plan and designs for cycling and walking links do not build from the standards laid out by the government in LTN 1/20. Particular concerns include:

  • Use of shared space and shared-use pathways
    The Green, a new strategic cycle route through the site, should be designed with a segregated cycleway and dedicated footway. The designs of cycling facilities throughout the site should be based on LTN 1/20 especially at junctions, bus stops, crossings and cycle streets.
  • Lack of realistic plans for increased traffic from the city centre
    Grange Road and West Road could only become ‘cycle streets’ if motor traffic levels were reduced through use of bus gates or other modal filters. There is also a contradiction between the proposal to increase cycle traffic on Silver Street and the proposal to also increase bus traffic there: more buses will make the route less safe for cycling.
  • Cycle infrastructure needs to be integrated with planned improvements and existing desire lines
    This includes projects from the Greater Cambridge Partnership on Madingley Road and the Barton/Comberton Greenways, and the pedestrian/cycle link by the Hauser Forum.
  • Cycle parking is non-compliant with the Local Plan
    Cycle parking must be covered, secure and accessible. If used, cycle hubs must provide as many spaces as would be required by the individual buildings they service with no less convenience.\
  • The proposed multi-storey car park will lock-in car travel
    Car parking provision should be minimised and moved from Clerk Maxwell Road to a site closer to the M11 so that the traffic it generates is away from busy walking and cycling areas.
Find out more on Cyclescape thread 2749.