In the planning

This article was published in 2006, in Newsletter 66.

Cycle-unfriendly new hotel

South Cambridgeshire District Council has received an application which departs from the agreed Local Development Framework. It proposes a 154-bedroom American style ‘budget’ motel of four storeys in the Arbury Park development just inside the A14. This could replace some commercial development that has outline planning permission. I looked at the plans with David Hembrow. Although not against the provision in principle, we both feel the plans show that developers, unfamiliar with Cambridge, again fail to grasp both the opportunities and the need for cycling provision.

There is no provision for guests who arrive by bike, no provision for bike hire, no provision for those who arrive at the restaurant or bar by bike, and very poor cycle provision even for those who will work there.

In Denmark and the Netherlands, many hotels automatically provide secure storage for bicycles, and are often listed as ‘Cycle Friendly’. On tour in Denmark, our bikes were far more valuable than anything we might have wanted to put in a hotel safe! The application makes much of the need for ‘budget’ accommodation for tourists in Cambridge. Cycle tourism is being much promoted in East Anglia, yet there is no mention of guests arriving by bike and absolutely no provision for secure storage.

We believe this would also be an ideal location to offer ‘cycle hire’, perhaps in conjunction with a local cycle hire firm. It is clear that a hotel in this location for tourists could generate many car trips to the centre by those unfamiliar with parking locations, charges, or access restrictions.

Although there are 237 square metres of bar and restaurant space on the ground floor there is no provision for parking of cycles near the main entrance. It may or may not become popular for local people, but under the City Council’s standards, some 23 spaces would have been required for the restaurant and another 30 for the bedrooms.

It is expected that the hotel will employ the full-time equivalent of 55 staff, but only four ‘Sheffield’ stands are shown, and these are located at the rear between the unloading area and the dustbins. City and SCDC standards require around 15 spaces for employees. This standard applies even to the most rural area.

Had this hotel been 500 m nearer the city centre, cycle parking standards for Cambridge City Council would have applied, requiring at least 68 spaces. Here is an opportunity for a hotel to advertise as ’10 minutes (by bike) from the city centre’. Come on, Premier Travel Inns, recognise that you are in Cambridge, the Premier Cycling City in the UK, let’s have far more than eight bike spaces and fewer than 111 car spaces, with good cycling facilities for guests whether they arrive by bike or not.

The Campaign has written to South Cambridgeshire District Council objecting to the application on the above grounds.

Jim Chisholm