This article was published in 2004, in Newsletter 56.
Construction of the Grand Arcade development in central Cambridge starts after Christmas. The long-discussed scheme is actually happening on the ground, and beyond this summer’s minor disruption for cyclists in Downing Street, we can expect organised chaos in the area for several years. The problems may be compounded by the redevelopment of Bradwell’s Court which is likely to be undertaken in the same period. The Robert Sayle store will have moved to Burleigh Street by the time you read this (had they stayed on site we might have had five years of chaos rather than three), and the magistrates court will temporarily move to Trumpington. Construction traffic will also be marshalled and co-ordinated at Trumpington; this will reduce traffic impact on the city centre, though many very large and heavy lorries can still be expected.
It is possible that once people are used to it, unless there is a constant fight for a small number of parking spaces, traffic levels might actually decrease in the City Centre for a while. Lion Yard car park will be demolished and rebuilt and, during the nearly two years that it will take, there will only be 330 parking spaces on the site. Drivers will have to park elsewhere, one of the options being an extended Park & Ride (Robert Sayle will be providing a pick-up point at Trumpington Park & Ride site to make this easier). The introduction of variable signage will indicate that the car park is full before people reach the City Centre, and a shuttle bus is being provided from Queen Anne Terrace car park.
Once the scheme is complete, there will be a great deal more cycle parking in the City Centre, even though most will be concentrated under the new shopping centre (and it seems likely that on-street parking elsewhere will be somewhat reduced). In the meantime, much of the cycle parking in the area is out of action. We will lose the significant number of racks in St Tibbs Row, and St Andrews Street will be in a state of continual change.
Corn Exchange Street
Our main concern, however, is still the status of Corn Exchange Street. At the time of writing, we are still waiting for a follow-up meeting on how the street can be made two-way. We think this is essential if the cycle parking is to work properly, and it is part of the planning consent. Councillors have supported it but, as in Trinity Street, officers are adamant that it is impossible to provide for two-way cycling. The longer this issue drags on, the less opportunity there is to make changes to the cycle park entrance, to the car park exit, to the frontage or to the street. As it is, councillors will not now have the opportunity to consider further suggestions about Corn Exchange Street before work starts.