Shape the future of local policing

Police event Monday 21 Jan 2019 at 19:00 to 21:00, Wesley Methodist Church, Christ Pieces, Cambridge CB1 1LG

There are a number of issues affecting our neighbourhood, including:

  • the lack of pro-active neighbourhood policing;
  • open drug-dealing;
  • the lack of police enforcement of, or even education of motorists about, our 20mph limits;
  • the lack of any action to stop vehicles obstructing the footways (Highway Code rule 244);
  • the lack of police enforcement of, or even education of motorists about, Highway Code Rule 163give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car. [my emphasis]

Some Mill Roaders will have other priorities. The more people who turn up to the meeting, the better our voices will be heard.

Hooper Street chestnut trees – Result!

A planning application was submitted for the pruning of two horse-chestnut trees in Hooper Street – and the felling of a third.

The deadline for comments on this application was Monday 17 December 2018.

Jubilee House 3 Hooper Street Cambridge CB1 2NZ
T 1 & T2: Chestnut – Reduce height by 4/5m and shorten lateral branches by 2/3m to rebalance crowns. T3: Chestnut – Fell.

Jubilee House 3 Hooper Street Cambridge CB1 2NZ showing horse-chestnut trees (Google Maps)

Many local residents submitted objections on the Cambridge City Council planning portal. Many thanks to those who took the time and trouble to do so.

  • Comments Received:57
  • Objections: 57

Other trees in Hooper Street have already been lost; each of the remaining trees are therefore more precious, in an otherwise heavily built up area of the city. They are an essential green ‘lung’ for the area, in countering air pollution.

Result for a community that stands together…

Date: 8 January 2019

Reference: 18/584/TTPO
Application: T 1 & T2: Chestnut – Reduce height by 4/5m and shorten lateral branches by 2/3m to rebalance crowns.
T3: Chestnut – Fell.
Jubilee House 3 Hooper Street Cambridge CB1 2NZ  

Dear Sir/Madam

Decision on Tree Works Application 

Thank you for your letter about the above application.  Your views were taken into account in coming to a decision.  The application was Tree Refused Permission  by senior officers, under delegated powers.

Valid applications including plans, supporting documents, consultation comments and the decision notice are available to view online.  Please go to to open the online planning register and enter 18/584/TTPO in the search field.

Yours faithfully

Joanna Davies

Interim Arboricultural Officer

Mill Road Depôt Development – Phase 2



The consultation will be on a “drop in” basis. Exhibition boards will display the emerging plans for the proposed development and members of Cambridge Investment Partnership and the professional design team will be on hand to answer any questions.
After viewing the exhibition, you will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the emerging proposals.
You can also submit feedback directly

Fund your community project

Fund your community project with an Area Committee grant

Are you involved with planning a neighbourhood activity taking place between April 2019 and March 2020 which will benefit people who are disadvantaged through social or economic exclusion?

This activity may be eligible for one of our Area Committee grants, covering North, South, East or West Central areas of the city.

Grants can be awarded to non-profit, voluntary and community organisations or groups of local residents.  They can be for items which enable an activity to happen e.g. venue hire for local community, arts or sports activities, transport for trips for younger/older residents, materials for art projects, equipment for local sports sessions and much more.

We want these grants to make a difference to the lives of City residents with the highest needs.

The application process will be launched in early January 2019. Contact the Grants Team from December onwards for further information and to discuss your ideas (email:  or telephone: T: 01223 457857 ).The deadlines for each Area, plus application guidelines and other information will be available from the City Council’s Area Funding webpage  in early January.  

Romsey Lakes

At the most easterly end of Mill Road, through Brookfields, across Perne Road are three large lakes. They are not currently open to the general public.

That may change before too long.

The Land South of Coldhams Lane, including the lakes south of the railway and land parcels to the north of the railway, is identified as an “Area of Major Change” in the new Local Plan. As well as built development, ideas include the ecological enhancement of the area, outdoor recreational uses and a new urban country park.

Anderson Group, who own part of the site, is holding a community planning process through the Autumn and has appointed architects and master planners JTP, and other consultants, to work with the local community to create a new Vision for the “Area” including an illustrative masterplan and other matters required by Local Plan Policy 16.

Keep up to date and get involved at the Land South of Coldhams Lane website.

Friday 23 Nov 1.45pm – 6.30pm
Sunday 25 Nov 1.30pm – 4.30pm


Download Community Planning Weekend Event Flyer

Sunday 25 Nov 10.30am – 3.30pm


Tuesday 27 Nov 6.45 – 8.30pm


Closure of Mill Road Bridge for Railway Works – Update

Latest Update – Footbridge agreed

We are indebted to the  Over Mill Road Bridge website for this update: GTR promises temporary footbridge during bridge closure.

Also this article in the Cambridge Independent…

Mill Road Bridge to stay open to pedestrians during rail works

By Alex Spencer, 20/12/2018

Mill Rd Traders Association members against the closure of Mill Rd, from left Shapour Meftah, Piero D’angelico, Pamela Wesson and Abdul Arain. Picture: Keith Heppell. (6148942)

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has promised to instal the footbridge to allow pedestrian access between the areas of Romsey and Petersfield when Mill Road Bridge is closed for railway works beneath it in 2019.

And following weeks of protest from traders on Mill Road worried the closure would discourage shoppers, GTR has agreed to move the works from springtime to July and August, when many residents are on holiday, to lessen the impact on businesses. Read more…

A comment from a local resident

To The Editor.

I welcome the recent news that ‘Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail’ have agreed a temporary footbridge during the Mill Road Bridge closure. The seeds for this agreement were sown at their initial public meeting in the ‘Double Tree by Hilton Hotel’ in Granta Place on 1st November last year, where the proposal was put cogently and sensibly by representatives of the ‘Mill Road Traders’ Association’ and ‘Camcycle’, together with several residents of the Mill Road Area.

The ‘Thames Govia’ Managing Director, accompanied by a Chief Engineer for the project, listened attentively and recorded the contributions; and at subsequent open meetings in Mill Road the Company took on board further ideas for the construction, positioning and design of a temporary bridge in that location.

It is good to know that a balanced democratic approach has worked so well and, in my opinion, would have probably achieved this welcome result without making it into a Local Party Political Issue!


Edward L. Jenkins

Received by email at our contact email address, 11/01/2019.

Making the Most of the Bridge Closure

Could there be a silver lining to the closure of Mill Road Bridge to motor vehicles in 2019?

The idea of reducing the amount of motor vehicle traffic on Mill Road has been much discussed in recent years.  Benefits could include reduced pollution, safer cycling and walking, more reliable bus services and a more pleasant environment in which to live, work and shop.  But we’re all conscious of the potential downsides – eg the impact on traffic in surrounding roads, the inconvenience for private motorists in particular for disabled drivers and the elderly, and logistical problems for bulk deliveries to the shops and business on Mill Road.  The financial cost (or benefit) of reduced traffic on local shops and businesses is also unclear.

So given that the bridge has to be closed to vehicles for at least 8 weeks in 2019, there’s clearly an opportunity to better understand the impact of reducing traffic on this key Cambridge thoroughfare.

Add your own comments (pre-moderated) below. Or below the A traffic-free Mill Road? post.

Petition and other updates

See also updates on the  Over Mill Road Bridge petition website, set up by Romsey & Petersfield Labour Parties.

Mill Road Bridges is non-political and non-aligned but we welcome people of any political party (or none) and any religion (or none) who are sticking up for Mill Road.  And do sign the petition.

They report:

Sophie Barnett one of our Romsey City Councillors has invited Network Rail to a meeting with Romsey and Petersfield Councillors. She is waiting for a response. The Councillors will want to ask how Network Rail and Govia Thameslink can address resident and business concerns about the impact of the Bridge closure.

Noel Kavanagh, Cambs County Councillor for Romsey, has asked about the process Network Rail will follow to get permission to close the Bridge. They will need to apply for a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO). Cambs County Council will publicise the Order, but there is no public consultation. So there is no direct consideration of public objections to the closure. We’ve asked Noel if he can find out how Cambs County Council will assess the TTRO application. We’re assuming the application will need to meet some criteria – what are they?

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Drop in meetings – Earl of Beaconsfield Tuesday 27th November 13:00 – 20:00 – Report-back.

Mill Road Bridges Treasurer, Richard Wood, attended one of these sessions, at which he was able to speak to GTR’s Kevin Parker, Head of RailPlan2020, a representative of Network Rail and of the contractors, Spencer Group.

Closure to motor-traffic

Reference was made to the rebuilding of Mill Road Bridge as part of the 1980s electrification programme, to accommodate the overhead electric line equipment.

During that rebuilding, from May to November 1980, the bridge was open to (signalled) motor traffic, whilst pedestrian/cycle access was maintained on a temporary bridge, adjacent to the north. [Source: Capturing Cambridge – Mill Road Bridge]

The bridge from Great Eastern Street looking towards Petersfield. Courtesy of John Hullock and the Suzy Oakes Collection.

The concerns of traders were raised. All of Mill Road’s independent traders have considerable custom arriving by foot and cycle, however some sell £100s of their speciality goods to customers using motor vehicles.

The point was made that ‘This is Mill Road, Cambridge’ – we’re all only a couple of degrees of separation from somebody with engineering expertise. If Mill Road bridge is to be closed to motor traffic – disrupting all deliveries and some trade to shops, and severing our bus service – GTR and Spencer Group will need to show us precisely why the bridge cannot be kept open through the works, in a way that can be closely scrutinised by those in the community with the relevant skills. Otherwise Mill Roaders will assume that the wool is being pulled over our eyes.

Things do appear to have moved on since the meeting on Thursday 1st November, in – ahem – Mill Lane.

Time of the Works

GTR are now looking to do the works later in the year July/August 2019, taking account of the feeling amongst traders that this would have less effect on trade than May/June. Local parents pointed out that July/August would be less disruptive to parents/pupils of (particularly) St Mathew’s and St Philip’s primary schools, and to pupils/staff of Cambridge Academic Partnership – responsible for secondary schools at Parkside, Coleridge and Trumpington. Our understanding is that GTR promised to consult local schools and to take account of school term/holiday dates.

Foot and cycle access

In the leaflet (reproduced above) GTR say, “We are looking to provide planned periods of pedestrian access throughout the period,” which implies a lack of commitment to continuous pedestrian access and makes no mention of cycle access.

Our understanding is that GTR and Spencer Group are currently planning the design and installation of a pedestrian bridge. It is not clear, at this stage, if cyclists will need to dismount. It appears to be the case that such a bridge will be open through any closure of the bridge to motor-traffic, save for short periods where it cannot remain open for reasons of engineering and public safety.

Public Realm Enhancements

Cambridge Cycling Campaign would like to see temporary enhancements to the public realm, during any closure to motor-traffic. In particular, hiring and installing pre-assembled ‘parklets’. See their vision for Mill Road with no through-traffic. Our understanding is that GTR will be meeting with Cambridge Cycling Campaign to discuss there ideas and their concerns.

Bus services

Mill Road Bridges Treasurer, Richard Wood, joined with Cambridge Area Bus Users Secretary, Richard Wood, in stressing the importance of providing substitute bus links in the event of closure of Mill Road bridge to motor-traffic. We were assured that GTR are in discussions with Stagecoach East over providing a substitute service. Our understanding is that any proposed timetable will be open to public consultation.

The usual diversionary route for citi2, when Mill Road is closed (eg for Mill Road Winter Fair) is via East Road, Newmarket Road , Coldhams Lane and Brooks Road, resuming its normal route to Addenbrooke’s Hospital via Perne Road and Birdwood Road.

Below are personal suggestions, please add your own comments, below the line.

On the Petersfield side, a previous bridge closure has seen a link bus service routed city centre – Mill Road – Tenison Road – St Barnabas Road and return, with Gwydir Street inbound and outbound stops suspended. With the bridge closed, a temporary stop on Mill Road outside St Barnabas Church (city-bound) would be feasible.

Both Tenison Road and St Barnabas Road are, technically, wide enough to take any standard HGV or bus, although a smaller vehicle (eg Optare Solo) might be more manageable. Because of congestion in Emmanuel Street, it is a moot point whether such a service should terminate in the city centre, or continue on the remainder of the route to Cambridge North Station via Chesterton.

On the Romsey side of Mill Road a Hope Street – Argyle Street – Cockburn Street loop might be possible. Again, a smaller bus might be advisable, and some parking suspensions might be required in those side streets. Mill Road Broadway inbound and outbound stops would need to be suspended and replaced with a temporary stop outside Mill Road Tesco.

A 20-min frequency Romsey Town – Perne Road – Birdwood Road – Addenbrooke’s, service would match the existing service to Addenbrooke’s. This might be supplemented with a 20-min frequency Romsey Town – Brooks Road Sainsbury’s – Coldhams Lane – Newmarket Road  – East Road – city centre – Chesterton – Cambridge North Station.

The schedule might be completed with a  a 20-min frequency Addenbrooke’s – Birdwood Road – Brooks Road Sainsbury’s- Coldhams Lane – city centre – Chesterton – Cambridge North service.

For updates from GTR, register on the Thameslink Programme website, or you can raise issues directly with GTR at

The timing of the meeting had been controversial with Mill Road’s traders, as it was in the week leading up to Mill Road Winter Fair on Saturday 1st December 2018 – probably the worst time for Mill Road’s Traders.

On 9 Nov 2018, Diane Rowe wrote to Piero d’Angelico of Mill Road Traders:

Dear Piero,

I hope you are well.

We have managed to secure a room at the Beaconsfield Arms on the 27th November. Many apologies – I know you said it was too close to the Christmas Fair but the room had been sourced and it was the only day that everyone could do. It will be in the form of a drop-in from 13:00 through until 20:00, which hopefully will mean people will be able to pop in at a time convenient to them.

I wonder if you have a list of the members of the traders association? We will try as much as possible spend local and it would be useful to know who the local suppliers are and who to contact.

Many thanks,

Diane Rowe
Customer Relationship Manager
Spencer Group
One Humber Quays
Wellington Street West

Shapour Meftah replied:

Dear Diane,

Thank you for your email which was sent to Piero, I am very glad that we are working on some sort of solution. As you may not be aware, we are at this moment in time in the run up to preparations for the Mill Road Winter Fair which is a very important event on our annual calendar and for our local community.  As discussed on previous occasions the date initially suggested of the 21/22 of November was suitable but that has now been changed by you and after discussing this with a number of traders the suggested date of the 27th by you is not convenient for the traders, we would prefer to postpone the meeting until after the Mill Road Winter Fair and if possible at a more appropriate venue.

I’d like to suggest either St. Barnabas Church or The Salvation Army on Mill Road as an alternative venue.

Whilst we accept that you have the right to hold the meeting whenever you want,  we would rather you don’t include the traders in the programme or literature of the drop-in session.

Kind Regards,

Shapour Meftah
Chair of Mill Road Traders’ Association

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CamCycle’s drop-in public consultations about a vision for Mill Road

Monday November 26 from 4-7pm at St Barnabas Church
Tuesday December 4 from 4-7pm at St Philips Church

Liz Irvin, Camcycle Volunteer, writes…

Dear Mill Road Bridges,
I’m a CamCycle volunteer helping out with our Mill Road campaign.
I am pleased to see that you have published Martin Lucas-Smith’s article about our vision for Mill Road with no through-traffic, which would allow more room for pedestrians, cyclists and delivery vans, reduce congestion, improve air quality and make the street a more pleasant destination. We think the closure of the bridge next summer is a great opportunity to trial elements of our vision. We would love the Mill Road community’s input, and would appreciate Mill Road Bridges being involved in this process.
We are holding two drop-in public consultations over the coming weeks to gather the views of residents, traders and visitors to Mill Road.
Kind regards,
Liz Irvin
Camcycle Volunteer
We say:
It would be great if these two events were to attract a large attendance by a lively crowd to further the debate.

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Objection to Planning application 18/1372/CAP18

As Friday 2 November 2018 appears to be the deadline for submission of objections to the Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail planning application, our treasurer submitted an objection Mill Road bridge works 18:1372:CAP18 objection (PDF 49 KB) asking that conditions be imposed on the applicants to ensure maximum access from the Romsey ward to the east of the railway bridge to the Petersfield ward to the west at the bridge location. Easy access for pedestrians and cyclists is the most essential for the viability of the independent traders for which Mill Road, Cambridge, is justifiably famous, and of which the community is justifiably proud. The greatest volume of sales from Mill Road’s shops is to customers who arrive on foot or by pedal-cycle.

Public meeting at the Double Tree Hilton at 6pm on 1 November

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Network Rail and its contractors hosted a public meeting at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Granta Place, Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RT at 6pm on Thursday 1 November 2018 to discuss the proposed eight-week closure of Mill Road bridge in Cambridge from May 2019.

Why it was not held at a venue on Mill Road we do not know. Was it to make things difficult? Or did no-one at GTR realise that Mill Lane and Mill Road are not adjacent locations?

The meeting was announced in Rail Business Daily, on-line.

We are indebted to Cllr Dave Baigent, City Councillor for Romsey, to alerting the Mill Road community to this meeting, on Twitter.

Our treasurer raised his frustrations at the poor responses from Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway to our request (see below) to be kept informed. Whilst Network Rail did contact him, he had no response from Govia Thameslink Railway.

Neither they nor Network Rail informed him of this meeting.

An apology was forthcoming but how did this occur?
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Will the bridge remain open for pedestrians and cyclists? What linking bus services can be provided along the two sections of Mill Road? What will be the impact on Mill Road’s independent traders?

From Cambridgeshire Live (Image: David Johnson)

From Cambridgeshire Live:

The bridge will have to close for two months to allow work to expand the railway below, which will require modification of one of the bridge’s arches.

The work will allow an additional railway line to run beneath the bridge, but will make the bridge unsafe for traffic while this is taking place.

A GTR spokesperson said: “We are planning a £30 million extension of the Cambridge railway depot to help increase the number of Thameslink services to and from the City.

Read the full report here.

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We have contacted Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway asking to be included in all consultations.

The text submitted on the various web contact forms is as follows:

We understand that Mill Road bridge in Cambridge is scheduled to be closed to all motor traffic from May to July 2019, in connection with installing an additional rail line beneath the bridge for access to an expanded maintenance depot for GTR trains.

Please ensure that our community organisation – Mill Road Bridges – is included in all consultations. Our main concern is that the bridge will remain open for pedestrians and cyclists between the two sections of Mill Road in Petersfield ward to the west of the railway and in Romsey ward to the east.

Failure to ensure pedestrian and cycle access at all times will impact severely on the independent traders for which Mill Road, Cambridge is justifiably famous, and of which the community is justifiably proud.

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Throughout the closure, we would like to see the Greater Cambridge Partnership fund impact studies:

  • Traffic counts on other routes to the city centre and Grafton Quarter to measure the actual (rather than projected) traffic displacement
  • Surveys of traders on the impact on their takings and on deliveries
  • Surveys of pedestrians, cyclists, bus users and local residents using Mill Road on how their journeys have been affected

This will be essential data for planning a positive outcome for more permanent traffic reduction along Mill Road, a reduction of congestion, an improvement in air quality on the Mill Road corridor, safer cycling, amore pedestrian-friendly environment, bus service reliability, whilst minimising disruption to traders and residents.

Add your own comments (pre-moderated) below. Or below the A traffic-free Mill Road? post.

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Visit to the new Cambridge Mosque

On Monday 17 September 2018 two of our committee members (and one ex-member) were honoured to have a guided tour of the new, nearly-completed Cambridge Mosque in Romsey Town.

We were welcomed by Tim Winter, Chair of Cambridge Mosque Trust and Site Manager Stephen Rodgers.

The new mosque was designed by the late David Marks, a Jewish architect who, along with Julia Barfield, invented and designed the London Eye. One has to say that Dr Winter, being the son of an architect himself, has recruited a professional who has created a stunning gem for Cambridge.

Supporting timbers from Switzerland

The most stunning aspect, at ground level, must be the structural supporting timbers manufactured in Switzerland and erected in Cambridge by a joint team of Swiss craftsmen and Irish construction workers.

Inside the mosque. looking through the framework of the soon-to-be-installed glass screen to the portico

To each side of the main entrance, which will look out onto gardens, into which the whole community will be welcome, will be a community meeting-room (to the west) and a café (to the east).

The timber deliberately – and effectively, in the view of this honoured visitor – evokes trees in a forest.

The structural timber ‘trees’ in the main prayer-hall.

Natural daylight floods the main prayer hall from the ‘forest canopy’ of the structural timber trees. This is in tune with the desire to create a world-class eco-mosque of which all of our communities – Cambridge’s Muslims  of many traditions, the wider Cambridge community, and the Mill Road ‘community of communities’  can be justifiably proud.

Whilst female and male worshippers pray separately, in practice the degree of separation in different traditions has considerable variation, explained Islamic scholar and academic, Dr Winter. Some sisters do not want to be on view by the brothers whilst praying, others wish to be in the sisters’ own area but feel no need to be obscured. Whist there will be a sisters’ gallery, building permanent physical separation in the main prayer hall, would take no account of variations in different Islamic traditions, nor of potential future variations in the proportion of sisters vis-à-vis bothers worshipping.

The Cambridge Mosque Trust will not follow or expect adherence to any particular school of Islam and will welcome worshippers from every part of the Muslim family, of both genders. [from Cambridge Mosque Trust’s Mission Statement]

The solution? A beautiful, intricately-carved, moveable wooden screen will be constructed, which will delicately taper from above 2 m in height by one wall to reach ground level at some point across the prayer-hall. Any sister, from any tradition should, thus, be able to find a prayer-space with which she is comfortable.

The octagonal windows, high in the wall, and the arched windows of the dome will have an extra layer of coloured glass in islamic patterns.

Daylight streams through the arched windows of the dome

We even speculated whether Cambridge City Sightseeing  bus tour might, in future, run via Mill Road.

The dome, seen from roof-height

Well, the dome, clad in gold-effect copper-anodised zinc, would look spectacular from an open-top tourist bus.

On the less-visible parts of the roof will be eco-friendly, sustainable energy equipment – photovoltaic arrays and air-source heat-pumps* – together with rainwater harvesting apparatus.

[*Whilst ground-source heat-pumps have some advantages over air-source – particularly at low air-temperatures – the large underground car-park and the height of the water-table on the site ruled this out as an option, Dr Winter explained.]

Entrance to the underground car-park with spaces for around 80 cars

One can see how the sustainable energy installations will go a long way towards fulfilling the plan to be Europe’s first eco-mosque.

Reflecting Islam’s contribution to contemporary debates over sustainability, the mosque will incorporate significant design features which will minimise carbon emission and emphasise the role of faith in promoting responsible management of the earth’s resources. [from Cambridge Mosque Trust’s Mission Statement]

The edges of the roof will be finished with crenellation stones cut in an English quarry, to be fitted by an Irish company.

The international sourcing of the mosque will be completed inside with marble flooring from Spain, and oak panelling from Northern Ireland, whilst service access grilles will be comprised of wooden decorative panels.

Site Manager Stephen Rodgers shows one of the evaluation prototype grilles

Two evaluation prototype grilles side-by-side

Exterior walls will be finished off with tile cladding evoking Cambridge’s Victorian bricks – whites with red detail – and the alternating red and white  brick and stone elements of (eg) the Mosque of Cordoba, in beautiful patterns of Islamic calligraphy.

A prototype section of tile cladding, above the car-park entrance for evaluation of colours and design. This will soon be removed and re-tiled.

Site Manager Stephen Rodgers remarked that a number of Belfast construction workers are about to become the province’s leading experts on Islamic calligraphy. He probably wasn’t joking: any tiling errors would need to be dismantled and re-clad!

The mosque is due to open in January 2019. (This visitor was relieved that this would be well before the Brexit deadline caused any potential hiccoughs – or worse – to supply chains and the availability of specialised workers.)

If you are equally impatient to see the wonders of the new Cambridge Mosque. Take a look at the Cambridge Mosque Trust’s photographic gallery.

Whither (or wither) Montreal Square?

Residents of Montreal Square in Romsey may face re-housing with their current homes demolished under Cambridge Housing Society redevelopment proposals

Montreal Square today (Photo: Mill Road Bridges)

Residents of Montreal Square in Romsey may face re-housing – and their homes may face demolition – while the square is redeveloped.

CHS Group (the trading name of The Cambridge Housing Society Ltd) claims demolition and re-development is needed to fulfil its charitable duty to provide as much social housing as possible.

The loss of the square would not only mean the loss of well-loved homes and valuable green space, but also the loss of a vision of how housing should be, with areas that are individual and areas that are communal, with places to meet and to play as well as space to relish personal privacy.

Mill Road TV came along to report on the Montreal Square Residents’ Association‘s fight for their homes.

Follow Mill Road TV on YouTube andTwitter.


Inaugural plaque (Photo – Allan Brigham)

Montreal Square was built by Cambridge Housing Society which was started in 1927 by Alderman Conder, Councillor Mrs D Stevenson and Dr Alex Wood (after whom the hall in Norfolk St and the bus shelter in Petersfield are named). The CHS was set up to help families who couldn’t afford market rents.

When the Montreal Square houses were built they didn’t have a separate bathroom but had baths in the back kitchen with a lid over it to form a table.  They were still very popular with the first residents.

As reported in the Cambridge Independent Press of November 30th 1928, the Mayor, Alderman J.E Purvis visited Romsey, and a plaque was unveiled which can still be seen today.

Caro Wilson, Mill Road History Society

Mill Road TV came along to video an update on the Montreal Square Residents’ Association‘s fight for their homes.

Follow Mill Road TV on YouTube andTwitter.

Statement from CHS Group

Nigel Howlett, CHS’s Chief Executive said: “As a charity, we have a duty to provide as much affordable housing in Cambridge as we can. Private rented property in Cambridge is unaffordable for people on low incomes – we want to build more affordable homes to help more people. It’s currently very difficult for CHS to find or build affordable housing in Cambridge, where need and lack of affordability is greatest. We recognise that moving customers out of their homes will be disruptive and we will do our best to offer them as much support as we can.” May 2018

CHS Group

(PDF 146 KB)

Update from Montreal Square Residents’ Association

After our last meeting in May which ended in a stalemate as we were not prepared to go forward and discuss the best way to Demolish our homes, CHS asked us to discuss with residents if they wanted us to discuss a design brief for the development of Montreal square.

As the majority of residents still remain totally against the idea of destroying homes and a well established community the answer was a resounding NO. 

On the 5th June we sent a letter to CHS to inform them of our decision advising them that we could not continue with their consultation period which only had the aim of doing a design brief.

Attached is a copy of the letter all residents received from CHS last week.
Again CHS choose to try and divide the community by asking the minority to go against the majority and get involved in a design brief. 

We are still doing every Saturday afternoon outside the Co-op on Mill Road collecting signatures of support from the local community.

With the online petition and the hard copy from the Co-op we have over 2,000 signatures of support now.

CHS have said they will get back to us by the end of July. 

That, by July, is over 6 months of stress and anxiety for the residents with the possibility of a lot more to come yet.

Andy Smith, Montreal Square Residents’ Association 27 June 2018

Letter to Montreal Square residents from CHS Group Chair

18 June 2018

Dear Residents,

Thank you for your letter of 5th June, received last week.

We note that many of you remain opposed to any redevelopment. Your letter also clarifies that the strong sense of community among Montreal Square residents is based on shared social values and responsibilities, which add to the pleasure and wellbeing from living there.

As agreed at the first public meeting in February, we will move on to develop options for a redevelopment scheme, working with any residents who wish to have further input. We assume from your letter that the Residents Committee is choosing not to participate in this, but we are very happy to involve them if they wish. These options will be shared with all residents. We will get back to you by the end of July to outline how a decision will be reached.

The panel of Board members that met with the Residents Committee has already accepted the invitation to visit Montreal Square and remain happy to do so if you would like to suggest some convenient times.

Kind regards,
Nicola Scrivings
Chair of CHS Group

Letter to Montreal Square residents from CHS Group Chief Executive

26 July 2018

Dear Residents

In June we said we would let you know by the end of July how the CHS Board will reach a decision on the future of Montreal Square. This letter outlines what will now happen, so that the Board can make a final decision at their meeting in mid October.

To reach a decision, the Board will need to weigh the problems that would be caused by a redevelopment against its advantages, mainly extra affordable housing.

So our next steps are:

  • To develop an outline design, as requested at the first public meeting, that will include all the feedback you and your neighbours have given us about how any redevelopment would affect you and what you would want in a potential scheme.
  • To give you an opportunity to comment on this potential design before this is presented to the Board.
  • To get an indication from the City Council Planning Department that the outline scheme is likely to meet their requirements. This is so we can be reasonably confident that the Board will be considering the advantages of a scheme that might be able to go ahead if they decide to proceed with redevelopment. It would also reduce revisions and delays both before and during any planning application stage.
  • To develop outline costings to make sure that the potential scheme is affordable for CHS and would deliver value for money in terms of additional affordable housing.

The Board will carefully consider what many of you have told us about the impact that any redevelopment of Montreal Square would have on you.

Although we understand that the current uncertainty is very uncomfortable for you, the earliest we believe we can produce all this information is by mid-October – which is an ambitious timescale for a scheme of this nature, especially as many aspects of the process are not within CHS‘s control.

If the Board decides in mid-October to go ahead with redevelopment, further work would then be required to submit a planning application and go through the approval process, all of which typically could take between 12 and 24 months.

As we think it is important to talk this through with each of you in more detail, we would like

to visit you on 2, 7, 8 or 9 August. Please call our Customer Services Team on [✂︎] or email [✂︎] to let us know when would be convenient.

Yours sincerely,

Nigel Hewlett

Chief Executive

Press release from Montreal Square Residents Association


02/08/2018 For Immediate Release

Contact – Andy Smith, Montreal Square Residents Associationemail Phone: M: 07546 472103

“OVER 2,000 people have said NO to the idea to DEMOLISHING Montreal Square”

The campaign to try and save our homes at Montreal Square, Cambridge, is still in progress. Back at the end of January Cambridge Housing Society told residents they wanted to look at the idea of DEMOLISHING Montreal Square to build more properties on the site.

Some 6 months later we are no further forward to them making a decision about this proposal and have just had a letter telling residents they will not make a decision until mid October. Their initial decision was going to be made in March.

Since March we have done what CHS had requested of us.

We have set up a democratically elected Montreal Square Residents Association at their request and we have attended three meetings.

At our last meeting we were asked to discuss the best way to DEMOLISH our homes. Unfortunately as we represent the majority of residents at Montreal Square it was decided that we could not continue with any steering groups or engagement panels that involved any design briefs because the majority oppose this idea.

CHS have since chosen to ignore the Montreal Square Residents Association and have again offered residents individual meetings about the redevelopment in order to try and get some residents to work with them against the majority of residents.

Our campaign has had over 2000 signatures saying NO to this idea.

Romsey city Cllr Dave Baigent (Labour) said, “I think it would be a tragedy if they changed Montreal Square the disruption it would cause would damage that community. There is nothing left to recommend this process.”

Romsey Liberal Democrat team have said, “We are backing Montreal Square residents because mini-communities that make up Romsey are important and one with green space and mature trees doubly so.”

We believe now the only thing keeping this idea afloat is CHS’s obsession with trying to increase their revenue for this site.

Maybe their enthusiasm for this site would be better directed at maintaining the site better as very little as been done in the last 10 years.

The last story about Montreal Square was on the 16/05/2015.

Residents including the elderly and vulnerable feel it’s time to end this and allow us to live in peace.

Andy Smith

News coverage in the Cambridge Independent

Residents opposing demolition of their Montreal Square homes in Cambridge plead to be left in peace

PUBLISHED: 11:33 12 August 2018 | UPDATED 11:41 12 August 2018

Photo Cambridge Independent

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner says he can’t support redevelopment plans from CHS Group if community opposes them

Residents fighting plans to bulldoze their homes to make way for a new development say they “will not be broken”.

More than 1,300 have signed a petition on calling for a halt to proposals to demolish Montreal Square in Cambridge.

The residents, some of whom have lived in the square for more than 40 years, say they will continue to fight the plans being consulted on by charitable housing association CHS Group. They have now gathered the support of Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, who says he cannot support a plan opposed by the community.

Read the full article here.

Montreal Square Residents’ Association organised an August gathering

Mill Road poet, Carol Ann Wood visited some of the Montreal Square residents and was moved to write and record this poem in tribute to their campaign. Click the image to download your own copy of the poem. (PDF 6.7 MB)

Mill Road TV filmed the gathering and interviewed some of those present.

Follow Mill Road TV on YouTube andTwitter.

And Mick Brown, aka Lord Drainlid, captured the mood of the gathering.

Follow Mick Brown’s YouTube channel, or as Lord Drainlid on Twitter.

The Montreal Square Residents’ Association have now launched their own newsletter. Click the image to view or download the full version of the 1st edition. (PDF 2.8 MB)

Issue Nº1 of the ‘Save Montreal Square’ Newsletter

Now Montreal Square features in a double-page spread in the 28 September 2018 edition of Varsity.

The Cambridge residents campaigning to halt the demolition of their homes

The community of Montreal Square is challenging Cambridge Housing Society’s plans to demolish their houses and redevelop the area

Ann Byerley, Cheryl Smith, and Marti King, heard for the first time in January that their houses could be torn down Isobel Griffiths

by Isobel Griffiths

Cambridge Housing Society (CHS), a local housing association, announced earlier this year that 18 residences just off of Mill Road were to be demolished, replaced by over 30 new houses and blocks of flats. Varsity spoke to three women who are campaigning to preserve the square many have lived in for decades.

Cheryl Smith, 60, Marti King, 73, and Ann Byerley, 67, have lived on Montreal Square, a cul-de-sac of 18 homes just off Mill Road owned by CHS, for 17, 40, and 43 years respectively.

Read the full article here.

This is just eight years after CHS Group undertook some improvements to Montreal Square’s homes and accepted that residents did not want a redevelopment scheme…

A previous scheme was discussed in 2010

1st 2010 letter to Montreal Square residents from CHS group

14th October 2010

The future of Montreal Square

I am writing to you to ask if we can come and visit you. The reason for this is that we need to ask for your views about the long term future of the houses at Montreal Square. CHS has begun a review due to the age and condition of these houses and we want to talk to you about the next steps.

Your Housing Officer Doug Stother would like to call on you personally at home on either Tuesday 19th October or Wednesday 20th October. He can come morning, afternoon or early evening. We have provisionally set a time of approximately 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday 19th October for Doug to visit you. However if this is not convenient, or you would prefer to meet somewhere else, then please do let us know and we will agree a more convenient time and location with you.

Doug works out of the office a lot of the time, and so it will not be easy for you to call him direct if you need to re-arrange the visit time. Therefore would you please call our Customer Service team on 0300 111 3555 who have access to Doug’s diary and can re-arrange the time for you.

I am sorry if this letter is quite short notice of our visit – we have assumed that you would be keen to find out more about this as quickly as possible once we wrote to you.

Your sincerely

2nd 2010 letter to Montreal Square residents from CHS group

23 December 2010

Last Monday I met with a group of residents from 10 of the houses in Montreal Square. We talked through what the next steps might be following our decision not to now pursue the option of redeveloping the Square to provide new modem homes.

The feeling of the meeting was that you wanted CHS to leave your homes alone and just make sure that we would carry out repairs and maintenance to keep your homes above the Decent Homes Standard. The meeting did not want us to explore more significant improvement options and the problems of funding these.

I explained to the meeting that while CHS was keen to be led by residents’ views about redevelopment and improvement it was possible that in the longer term we would have to you about this again. This is because we might well need to carry out some major works at some point in the future to ensure we provide homes that are more affordable to heat and maintain. I want to stress that we have absolutely no plans to do this but it is fair that I should explain that this might be an issue in the future.

I am writing this letter to make sure that everyone is aware of the latest position.

Last weeks meeting identified a number of building issues, including the need for some boiler replacements and loft insulation. I suggest therefore that the best way ahead is for us firstly to survey the condition of the houses in Montreal Square to draw up a complete plan of any work needed now or in the near future to make sure that we can keep them above the Decent Homes Standard. We propose to carry out surveys using our own property staff, starting in January, and at times agreed with each of you.

A question was asked about flushing through heating pipework and I can confirm that this is done as part of all our new boiler installations. We will let you know in January if you have a boiler that we plant to replace in the next few months.

Updates will follow here …

Please leave your comments below.

A traffic-free Mill Road?

The recent closure of Mill Road for emergency repairs has prompted a debate about removing unwanted through traffic on a more permanent basis. Join the debate.

See also our post Closure of Mill Road Bridge for Railway Works.
Will the bridge remain open for pedestrians and cyclists? What linking bus services can be provided along the two sections of Mill Road? What will be the impact on Mill Road’s independent traders?
Read more and join the debate.

Throughout the closure we would like to see:

  • Traffic counts on other routes to the city centre and Grafton Quarter
  • Surveys of traders on the impact on their takings and on deliveries
  • Surveys of pedestrians, cyclists, bus users and local residents using Mill Road on how their journeys have been affected

This will be essential data for planning a positive outcome for more permanent traffic reduction along Mill Road whilst minimising disruption to traders and residents.

A thriving Mill Road: remove the through-traffic

From Martin Lucas-Smith

Mill Road should be a thriving place, with tens of thousands of residents around it, and a fantastic range of shops and community facilities. Yet traders are often struggling. Why is this?

What’s the one thing that almost everyone agrees is bad about Mill Road? The traffic. So isn’t it time something was actually done about it?

These two are strongly linked. Mill Road is currently a place that many people, myself included, either avoid completely, or visit and then leave as quickly as possible. It’s too unpleasant, polluted and noisy. All the trade from people who might actually stay for a while, or would be more likely to walk/cycle through if they didn’t have to battle the cars taking up all the space, is lost.

Mill Road has all the conditions for a popular, even trendy, location: central, cosmopolitan, offering something unique. Yet trading is still marginal. Get rid of the cars simply passing through, and the street can be opened up – to people actually visiting – and spending money and time there.

Some people think removing traffic would make trade suffer. Look at Bridge Street, and the bollards installed in 1997. Before the closure, there were 700 cars per hour passing through. Now, it is a thriving place, with the streetscaping in 2000 providing an even more pleasant environment. Who would return to all that traffic now?

Pretty much all the problems of Mill Road that people complain about can only be solved by getting rid of the through-traffic – it is both the cause and the solution:

  • If you want Mill Road to be a place where people actually want to visit and stay a while, you have to get rid of the through-traffic.
  • If you want lovely new ‘parklets’, where people can hang out and enjoy a coffee outside shops/cafes, without breathing in polluted air, you have to get rid of the through-traffic.
  • If you want traders to have space for delivery bays, getting vans off the pavement, with access 24/7, you have to get rid of the through-traffic.
  • If you want buses to run on time, and be more regular, you have to get rid of the through-traffic
  • If you want to walk and cycle safely, you have to get rid of the through-traffic.
  • If you want to get rid of pavement parking, where people feel they shouldn’t block other passing cars, you need to get rid of the through-traffic.
  • If you want places to park your bike, you need to get rid of the through-traffic.
  • If you want new space for public art, you need to get rid of the through-traffic.
  • If you want wider pavements, you need to get rid of the through-traffic.

If you want to be able to drive in and out, to access your house or the car parks, you would still be able to still do this, at any time – we are not calling for pedestrianisation.

This would be achieved by a closure to private vehicles at the bridge. Buses, cycles, emergency vehicles, and (out of necessity) taxis would be allowed through. People can still drive to every part of Mill Road, just not through. Delivery drivers sometimes already exit the same way they came in, or via selected side roads. It’s workable.

We know that most of it is through-traffic, because in July, a sinkhole had appeared near the Co-op. But calm and tranquillity broke out. You could hear people talking across the street. It was at last safe to cycle. People could still drive in and out. Mill Road felt like a place again. Just for two days.

With parklets, and all kinds of other changes like those listed above, Mill Road could be thriving, far more pleasant and safer, permanently.

You can read our full set of ideas at: Mill Road – our vision for 2019 and beyond.

Martin Lucas-Smith, York Street, and Camcycle

See also the article from CamCycle: Mill Road reclaimed for humans – a vision (PDF 384 KB) and CamCycles’ post, Our vision for Mill Road.

Liz Irvin, Camcycle Volunteer, adds…

Dear Mill Road Bridges,
I’m a CamCycle volunteer helping out with our Mill Road campaign.
I am pleased to see that you have published Martin Lucas-Smith’s article about our vision for Mill Road with no through-traffic, which would allow more room for pedestrians, cyclists and delivery vans, reduce congestion, improve air quality and make the street a more pleasant destination. We think the closure of the bridge next summer is a great opportunity to trial elements of our vision. We would love the Mill Road community’s input, and would appreciate Mill Road Bridges being involved in this process.
We are holding two drop-in public consultations over the coming weeks to gather the views of residents, traders and visitors to Mill Road.
Kind regards,
Liz Irvin
Camcycle Volunteer
We say:
It would be great if these two events were to attract a large attendance by a lively crowd to further the debate.

Over 18 thousand adults live off Mill Rd. If it were closed to private through traffic, it could have widened pavements and cafe extensions to shops.Dave Baigent, city councillor for Romsey.

For more on the size of the Mill Road community of communities (over 25,000 souls in 2011) read this post,  or the PDF (316KB)

New! Experimental closure to through-traffic scheme currently on Mill Road … aka street repair. Will Cambridge grind to a halt, or will people cope, showing that a more permanent change would work?  – CamCycle

A view from Romsey Labour‘s Making spaces for people consultation page…

Romsey Labour often discuss the possibility of how Mill Road can be made safer and this was raised again at the last meeting.  At that time opinion was balanced in favour but this is a moving feast and it was decided to have it as an agenda item at the next ward meeting.

What follows is a view in favour

This action follows a very positive response to the unexpected blockage of Mill Road by a road collapse 27th-28th June – this has reopened the debate about if we could have a trial stoppage of through traffic.  A trial closure at Mill Road Bridge monitored by CCTV could mean:

  • all private vehicles would be stopped from crossing the bridge
  • all of Mill Road would still be accessible
  • deliveries could be 24/7 and this would help traders.
  • it would be much safer space for pedestrians/cyclists (see the amount of collisions)
  • massively reduce pollution
  • buses could have a traffic free route and be on time
  • Of course there remain people who are against this because it will interfere with their car journeys – there are also concerns about pushing traffic onto other roads.  The traders have also indicated that they remain opposed.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign on the other hand are enthused and they have raised the potential of introducing ‘parklets’.  Seen below these would be used to widen the pavement and allow shops to extend their frontages – to allow ‘pop up cafes’ for example. They believe that trade would be increased for traders if the road was closed to through traffic and with parklets there would be further gains.

parkletfornewspost.jpgThese ‘parklets’ would be relatively cheap to construct and make so much difference to the narrow parts of pavement on Mill Road.

Nothing that has been suggested would remove access from any part of Mill Road.  Deliveries could continue as before and because there was no through traffic the lorries would be unlikely to frustrate drivers, cyclist and pedestrians.  This has got to be a way forward and people should contact their councillors to make their views known (for or against).

It may even be that the Greater Cambridge Partnership could be approached to fund this trial.

From Romsey Councillors: Dave Baigent, Anna Smith, Sophie Barnett, Noel Kavanagh

As a non-party-political community group, Mill Road Bridges would love to hear from councillors and/or activists of other parties about their vision for Mill Road. Come on Conservatives, Greens and Liberal Democrats!

Making space for people on Mill Road – Smarter Cambridge Transport

The closure of Mill Road while a sinkhole was repaired prompted people to wonder whether the road could be closed permanently to through traffic. Some have called for a trial closure and Camcycle is putting forward a vision for a Mill Road with wider pavements, improved streetscape with parklets, and more cycle parking.

The café tables on the pavement around 196 Cocktail Bar hint at what a vibrant street culture we could have if Mill Road were more hospitable for people, and less so for motor vehicles. As alocal, I’d love to see this. It’s exactly the vision that our local community should be aspiring to.

But, wearing my Smarter Cambridge Transport hat, I have two concerns: the first is about the practical impact of a closure point on vehicles needing to access homes and businesses. Even if Mill Road were opened up in the early morning for shop deliveries, at other times, motor vehicles of all sizes (other than buses) would have to be directed around loops through residential streets either side of the closure point.

A bigger concern is the effect of treating this part of the city’s road network in isolation. Mill Road is special, particularly to those who live around it, but…

Read the full article: Making space for people on Mill Road – Smarter Cambridge Transport (PDF 777KB)

From Leader of Smarter Cambridge Transport, Edward Leigh

Mill Road reclaimed for humans – a vision

At the start of July, Mill Road was closed to through traffic, as a sinkhole had appeared near the Co-op. Calm and tranquillity broke out. You could hear people talking across the street. It was at last safe to cycle. Mill Road felt like a place again. Just for two days.

We want to make this permanent. Mill Road has for too long been a conduit for traffic rather than a place for people – the result of cars cutting through it to get to/from the city centre.

Cambridge didn’t grind to a halt in July. Cherry Hinton Road did experience delays, but we believe this problem can be dealt with, as discussed below.

By taking out much of the through traffic, alternative travel becomes much more attractive. For instance, buses would keep to time, and services could be expanded to be much more regular.

However, it’s not enough just to stop through traffic. We’d like to see a whole range of changes. This change is not really an agenda for cycling: it’s about turning Mill Road back into a place again.


Traffic evaporation – what about surrounding roads?

It’s a common misconception that when streets are changed to stop through traffic all the traffic goes elsewhere. Not so – ‘traffic evaporation’ occurs. People change their behaviour, resulting in a lot of car journeys simply disappearing.

In the case of Mill Road, cycling would at last be safe, bus journeys become practical, and walking without breaking into a cough from the poor air becomes possible.

Of course, some traffic will be displaced, and it’s important that Cherry Hinton Road in particular has action taken on it. Cherry Hinton Road is wide enough for a proper cycleway in many places, again providing an alternative to driving, and ought to be a pleasant tree-lined boulevard. Combined with the proposed Workplace Parking Levy and/or a Toxicity Charge – both of which are needed in Cambridge – traffic in the surrounding area can be minimised.

Mill Road is a much narrower road and, unlike much of Cherry Hinton Road, is a high street, densely lined with shops and other facilities. Pedestrian and cycle traffic is much higher on Mill Road, and 18,000+ people live off Mill Road – a very densely-populated area.

Read the full article from CamCycle here: Mill Road reclaimed for humans – a vision (PDF 384 KB) Mill Road – our vision for 2019 and beyond and CamCycles’ post, Our vision for Mill Road.

Post your (pre-moderated) comments below.