The Tins planning application

Image as described adjacent
The railway bridge – blind corners must be removed

In the last newsletter we said that, as part of a proposal to build a sports centre and some warehousing on land at the disused quarry site between Cambridge and Cherry Hinton, the developers would pay to remove the blind corners on the railway bridge on this busy commuting route. That statement turned out to be rather optimistic.

Earlier this year the developers asked us for suggestions on how best to improve the cycle route across the quarry, and I am pleased to report that they adopted many of our recommendations and requests.

The City Council’s Planning Sub-committee was due to consider the application at the end of August. Just days before the meeting, after various summer absences, we took a closer look at a landscape architect’s final design for the site’s ‘Cycle and Footpath Routes’. There is much to be welcomed in this, such as the intention to widen the current 2 m wide path to 3 m for bikes and 2 m for pedestrians. However, as the developers are now not proposing to widen the railway bridge (it is outside their control, being Railtrack land), the path width is squeezed on the blind corners. The report therefore contains, for several different locations along the route, ominous phrases such as ‘a chicane will encourage cyclists to slow down and dismount.’ Remember that this is currently a route that is open to all cyclists – parents with children on tricycles, those with shopping (or children!) in trailers, those on tandems, and those with mobility difficulties who get around by trike. To make this route more attractive, and then make it unusable to so many, and to increase conflict between pedestrians and bikes at pinch points, would have been a disaster.

Regrettably, therefore, at the eleventh hour we felt compelled to object to the application. I say ‘regrettably’ because the developers really did make an effort to adopt the suggestions we made, and it had simply never occurred to us to say something as obvious, from our perspective, as ‘please don’t put barriers in to create conflict on what is currently a continuous route’.

We now understand that the planning committee approved the application, with the condition that the developers work with Cambridge Cycling Campaign to iron out the details. We are pleased with this outcome, and look forward to the process.

We will also be investigating other avenues to get the railway bridge widened – this is too good an opportunity to miss.

We are also considering producing some general guidance for when developers contact us – to try to make the most of the time our members can offer. Alternatively, perhaps local planning departments could give developers something along the lines of the excellent 12 page Cycle Friendly Design Guide provided by the City of Edinburgh Council. We would be pleased to supply contact details.

Clare Macrae