This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 131.
A major milestone in the long-running campaign for the Chisholm Trail was reached when the county council’s Planning Committee unanimously gave planning permission for the Abbey-Chesterton bridge. This followed spending permission having been given by the Economy and Environment committee in December.
The meeting heard from the county’s Cycling Infrastructure Officer Mike Davies on the details of the scheme and how it fits with the county’s priorities. Camcycle described the long-term campaigning that we’ve done, emphasising the extensive support for the scheme. We stressed that the bridge design and location had been refined to provide the best possible outcome. We put forward the argument that the bridge improves accessibility for pedestrians with mobility issues especially and that cycling projects such as this will have major public health benefits. Rob King, CEO of Outspoken, gave a speech as both a local resident and local business owner who’ll be able to make extensive use of the new bridge.
Those objecting to the scheme brought nothing new. One had a technical objection about the ecology reports, but seemed not to have read the Planning Officer’s report which dealt with most of his points. Others tried to argue against it by using really convoluted sample journeys that would be longer, or by claiming that nobody really uses the Green Dragon and Riverside bridges at peak times. One objector simply suggested that making Ditton Meadows accessible to more people was fundamentally a bad idea.
Councillors gave the technical issues about the ecology reports some thought but, after checking with the legal officers present, when it came to the vote all raised their hands to give it permission.
This now allows the project officers to get on with site clearance and to finalise tendering for the major contract, that of constructing the bridge. We hope to see progress on the ground soon. We thank councillors and officers for their support for the bridge.
The campaigning work doesn’t stop here, however. In April the application for ‘Phase 1’ of the Chisholm Trail (for route details see Newsletter 128) will be considered by the Joint Development Control Committee. This is made up of councillors from Cambridge City, South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridgeshire County Councils. We anticipate similar objections will be put forward and will be there to robustly support the application. Details of the time and date will be sent out when we know for sure. We do need to have supporters attending this meeting, as it gives confidence to wavering councillors that the scheme is fully supported by large locally representative groups such as ourselves.
Planning application ref for ‘Phase 1’ of Chisholm Trail C/5007/16/CC