Historic core appraisal

This article was published in 2005, in Newsletter 59.

Cambridge City Council has recently consulted on an appraisal of the ‘character of the historic core of the city’.

The Cambridge Historic Core Appraisal seeks to assess the character of the historic core of the city, to consider the issues affecting this character and how the Council can work with others to minimise any threat to the key features and enhance weaker areas. Once approved by Councillors, the document will be deemed a material consideration in the determination of planning and other applications.

Although not a transport consultation as such, we took the opportunity to put in a consultation response on a few cycling related areas which we felt were within the consultation’s remit.

Speed limits

We commented that the current speed limit arrangements are inappropriate for a historic city centre area, as inappropriate speeds reduce the quality of life of those living and working in the historic core and cause danger.

We reiterated our view – which we have made several times in a variety of recent consultations – that the area within the inner ring road should be re-designated as a 20mph zone.

There are already several small areas with a 20mph limit within the ring road and creating a single zone would seem appropriate and sensible.

This may also offer the potential to reduce the amount of signage within the Historic Core, a matter which has been of concern to many councillors in recent years.

Cycle parking and car parking

Photo: car parking

We commented that there appears to be a reluctance to remove on-street car parking, both in residential areas and elsewhere. At the same time, cycle parking is in desperately short supply, yet there exists no major initiative to address this seriously.

Consequently, cycle theft remains high, an obvious way to promote increased levels of cycling (with the associated benefits that brings) is being missed, and cycles are left lying around wherever there is space, often causing blockages to pedestrians.

We therefore wrote wishing to see the need for increased levels of cycle parking recognised in the plan.

We would dearly love to see a cycling-minded councillor take up the mantle of getting a proper initiative to address the severe cycle parking shortage across the city. Current piecemeal initiatives though welcome, are not enough. Yet this is one area that could substantially increase the quality of the cycling environment in Cambridge at little cost.

“Will any councillor take up the mantle of introducing a proper initiative to address the severe cycle parking shortage across the city?”

We also stated our view that the detrimental effect on the city environment of large amounts of space being given over to car parking, should also be recognised. It is curious that there was so much fuss over the visual intrusion of coach parking at the time of the changes to Silver Street, yet the view across the backs has long been spoilt by the row of car parking that pervades Queen’s Road.

To take this example of Queen’s Road, the space could be used in better ways, most notably a high-quality, continental-style cycleway. Many cyclists find this road to be somewhat hazardous and removing the car parking here would considerably increase safety and convenience.

Care over use of granite setts

Lastly, we commented in our consultation response that there are a small number of locations such as Green Street where irregular granite setts have been used, making conditions for cyclists, walkers and, in particular people with disabilities, difficult. We wrote opposing their use. We suspect that recent disability legislation would prevent their use in any case.

Our consultation response, as with all our letters, can be found our website at www.camcycle.org.uk/campaigning/letters/ or upon request.

Martin Lucas-Smith, Co-ordinator