Early in April, the City Council Planning committee resolved to approve the Grand Arcade planning application, so long as the Secretary of State doesn’t call for a public enquiry.
As described in Newsletter 29, we had warmly welcomed the proposed underground cycle centre. However, we strongly opposed the loss of the with-flow cycle lane on Downing Street. We have been told that, directly as a result of our last-minute objections, officers were asked to investigate further the possibility of retaining this lane, and that it has now been safeguarded.
We also asked for more short-term cycle parking to be provided. Councillors and officers felt, however, that the developers were already contributing a lot, financially, to cycle parking (with the cycle centre). So the case for asking for still more money for cycle parking was considered weak. Had we anticipated this argument, we might have pointed out that, since the developers are likely to be running the cycle centre as a business, there is scope for some of the costs to be offset, and put towards street-level parking. At least there should be other opportunities to install extra cycle parking in the city centre, so all is not lost.
Our final concern was that the proposed Corn Exchange contraflow cycle lane was not going to be as effective as it could have been, because there were no proposals for similar lanes in Bene’t Street and Wheeler Street. For news on these streets, see Directionally challenged elsewhere in this issue.
So, although there are more stages involved (such as the possibility of a public inquiry, and the fact that the City Council Planning committee doesn’t actually have the final say on the design of cycle facilities), the Grand Arcade and its cycle centre are now one step closer to becoming reality.