Plans for Cambridge station area

This article was published in 2002, in Newsletter 42.

As reported in Newsletter 41, the City Council have appointed consultants to draw up a new Planning Brief for the station area.

A new Planning Brief is needed to take account of:

  • Greater commitment by government to the promotion of cycling.
  • Plans for increased rail traffic from Cambridge and for the building of an island platform accessible from the station and from Rustat Road.
  • The expected availability of the Rank Hovis mill site for redevelopment.
  • Plans for a guided busway from Trumpington to the station and on into town via Station Road.

To encourage more people to cycle to the station, cycle parking and other cycle facilities should be greatly improved

I was asked to write a letter to the consultants on the Campaign’s behalf. The letter, published in full on our website (, says:

  • Cyclists need much improved access routes to the station.
  • Cyclists need much improved modern cycle parking and cycle facilities near to the station entrance.

Access routes

There is substantial suppressed demand for cycling to the station and the Planning Brief should provide for at least twice the present number of cycle movements after redevelopment.

We propose:

Station Road: traffic calming with cycle bypasses (and no build-outs) together with the removal of all on-road car parking.

Hills Road: a new cycle route into the station via the Rank Hovis entrance at the junction with Brooklands Avenue.

The cycle bridge linking Devonshire Road with Rustat Road: build an additional ramp from the western abutment of the cycle bridge directly into the station area.

Image as described adjacent
Artist’s impression of a suggested ramp leading from the existing cycle bridge into the station area.

A new direct route from Devonshire Road into the station area.

Route from the south alongside the railway line: the SuperCAM guided bus proposals envisage a new route into the station area via an underpass through the northern abutment of Hills Road bridge. In the SuperCAM proposals pedestrian and cycle access through this subway is presented as one option. In our opinion it is not an option: it is a necessity. The Campaign has actively promoted this route for many years as part of what has come to be known as the Chisholm Trail. It would provide off-road pedestrian and cycle routes from large local developments as well as Trumpington and Addenbrooke’s. It would also provide a way through to the station for those travelling north over Hills Road bridge who would loop round into the underpass via the bridge entrance to Unex House.

Route from the north alongside the railway line (western side): the strip of Railtrack land along the station side of the railway line between the station and Mill Road should be developed as a cycle and pedestrian way forming part of the Chisholm Trail to give access to the station from the area beyond Mill Road via the unused railway arch under Mill Road bridge.

Route from the Cattle Market Site: the developers of the Cattle Market Site have proposed a pedestrian bridge across the railway to provide access to the station from their development. This bridge should be designed to carry cycle as well as pedestrian traffic.

Bridge (or tunnel) from Rustat Road to the proposed island platform and on into the present station: Because of the unusually large numbers of cycles carried on trains to and from Cambridge, this bridge or tunnel should provide separate pathways for pedestrians and cyclists.

Route from the North alongside the railway line (eastern side): planning applications for housing development on the Leica site off Rustat Road reserve a strip of land alongside the railway line for an access route. This should be developed as a new cycle and pedestrian route via the other spare arch under Mill Road bridge. It should connect with Clifton and Davy Roads and with the proposed link to the island platform.

Cycle parking and cycle facilities

Image as described adjacent
The covered cycle park at Groningen.

To encourage more people to cycle to the station, cycle parking and other cycle facilities at the station should be greatly improved and modernised and the present severe shortage of cycle parking spaces should be remedied by providing a total of 2300 spaces.

Cycle Parking Centre: 800 spaces should be provided in a covered, staffed cycle parking in an attractively designed Cycle Centre immediately adjacent to the station entrance and comparable to the staffed parking that is available at many Continental stations including Münster, Groningen and Amsterdam. At Cambridge, provision could be above ground or it could be largely underground but with an attractive above-ground entrance structure comparable in grandeur to the Münster one. That Cambridge’s local authorities consider cycling to be valuable and praiseworthy should be demonstrated architecturally by the provision of high-quality buildings and facilities. Supervised parking space in the Centre should cost users no more than about 30p per day.

As at present, the cycle stands closest to the station entrance should be reserved for cyclists with disabilities. The Centre should also provide cycle hire and repair facilities.

Free cycle parking on main site: 1000 free cycle parking spaces should be provided close to the station entrance. Cycle parking should be closer to the station entrance than car parking.

Free cycle parking east of the railway line: 500 spaces will be needed on the eastern side of the railway line at the entrance to the new link to the island platform.

Cycle parking for new developments in the station area: because of the need to restrict traffic generation, little or no car parking should be permitted for all new commercial and residential development in the station area. The Brief should specify increased quantity and quality of cycle parking provision for each new development.

In conclusion we stress that in our opinion the previous plans for the station area allocated too much space for commercial and residential development in the area immediately adjacent to the station. Insufficient space was allocated to the transport interchange function of the site and, in particular, to the space requirements of cyclists, bus passengers and pedestrians now and in future years.

James Woodburn