If you have a dream…

… but never thought you could do it…

Cambridge Community Arts, a Cambridge-based social inclusion charity, have just released their part-time, year-long creative courses for adults starting in September 2022. Their course programmes, offered in partnership with Cambridge Regional College, allow you to explore your chosen art form in depth. Course programmes on offer include Photography, Visual Arts, Music for Performance, Music Production, Creative Writing & Drama.

Cambridge Community Arts logo
Click the logo above to visit the Cambridge Community Arts website

Some of these courses are based on Mill Road and its side streets, with others in Arbury, Chesterton and off Newmarket Road.

Cambridge Community Arts
CREATIVE COURSES
SEPTEMBER 2022 - JULY 2023 brochure front page
Click the image above to view/download the full 12-page PDF brochure

We bring people together in small groups in the community, to learn and practice all forms of art.  They gain in confidence, improve their mental health, make friends and in some cases get back to work”.

Jane Rich, CEO of Cambridge Community Arts
Photo: student painting
Photo: Toby Peters

Why not pop along to Cambridge Community Arts Open Day on Tuesday 12th July 2022 from 1pm-4pm at Arbury Community Centre, Campkin Road, Cambridge CB4 2LD, when you’ll have the chance to talk to course tutors, staff and past learners to find out more.

Courses are open to adults 19+ who live in the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority area. There is a reduced rate for those on a low income or means-tested benefits. If courses become oversubscribed, Cambridge Community Arts prioritise those with health conditions, disabilities and/or unpaid caring responsibilities.

Full details and application form can be found on the Cambridge Community Arts website or phone 07763 280029.


About Cambridge Community Arts 

Cambridge Community Arts helps to build community, connections, and confidence through creativity. It offers creative arts courses in a safe, friendly, and supportive environment and creates healthy creative communities, by improving mental health, reducing social isolation, increasing educational achievements and progressing people towards employment. 

Registered Charity no. 1187718

Talking Together – June/July 2022

Yes. Talking, with other older adults, about shared interests. On your telephone. Not Zoom. Nor Microsoft Teams. Nor FaceTime. Nor WhatsApp. Nor Skype.

Just your telephone. Landline or mobile.
And it’s free!
But registration is required.

Image is of info from page 1 of the linked PDF.
Click the image to view/download a 2-page PDF of the latest programme of talks.
The PDF has selectable text, so should be compatible with a screen-reader.
Click the image to view/download a 2-page PDF of the latest programme of talks

COPE (Cambridgeshire Older People’s Enterprise) is delighted to announce the latest series of TALKING TOGETHER, a new initiative that brings older adults together for engaging and stimulating conversations about topics of shared interest. This free programme offers weekly telephone-based discussion groups which are joined from the comfort of your home. No special technology is needed, just your own telephone. Each group, scheduled for 45 minutes, is facilitated by skilled leaders with whom participants can share their ideas, opinions and experiences.

Image is of info from page 2 of the linked PDF.
Click the image to view/download a 2-page PDF of the latest programme of talks.
The PDF has selectable text, so should be compatible with a screen-reader.
Click the image to view/download a 2-page PDF of the latest programme of talks

Do you know an older adult who doesn’t have internet access who would enjoy these phone chats? Or someone (perhaps yourself) who just prefers a chat?

Take a look at the full leaflet by clicking either of the images above.


You and/or your friend can register by filling in the form, and posting it to:
COPE, St Luke’s Community Centre, Victoria Road, Cambridge CB4 3DZ
(If you don’t have access to a printer, just write your details on a sheet of plain paper.)


Or you can put your details in an email to cambridgecope@hotmail.co.uk or by phoning COPE on 01223 364303. (You can leave a message on the answering machine if there is no volunteer manning the COPE telephone (10.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.)


PS: Do you know someone who COPE might approach to lead a set of conversations on a subject about which they have some knowledge? If so, why not email COPE with your suggestion using this link?


COPE is a registered Charity run by volunteers. Registered Charity No. 1110887

Summer Shindig

Saturday 18th June 2022, Romsey Recreation ground

Poster – Summer Shindig – Saturday 18th June 2022, Romsey Recreation ground – 4pm - 9pm
For full details, click on the poster

The first Mill Road Fringe event of 2022 will be the Summer Shindig which will take place on Saturday 18th June from 4-9pm at Romsey Recreation Ground, Vinery Road.

Featuring live music, giant games, pebble painting and more, it promises to be a great family evening. Bring your own picnic (no barbecues though please), kick back and enjoy the summer!

Music will come courtesy of some amazing local bands:

  • Colonel Spanky’s Love Ensemble
  • The Scissors
  • The Electron Thieves
  • Mimsy and the Borogoves.

Ordinary People Extraordinary Times

WAR GRAVES WEEK 21ST – 28TH MAY

War Graves Week Poster

Discover
Ordinary People Extraordinary Times
#ExtraordinaryTimes
21st to 28th May
Discover the stories of everyday men and women just like you, who through their actions and work truly did the extraordinary
Click the poster to find out about War Graves Week events, nationwide

Join the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Friends of Mill Road Cemetery on Tuesday 24th May 2022, to find out more about those commemorated in Cambridge.

To learn more and book your free tickets, click here.

About this event

This War Graves Week, explore Ordinary People, Extraordinary Times and discover who you could have been. Around the world ordinary people do extraordinary things every day for their community. They do it today, and they did it during the world wars. Join us this War Graves Week in a celebration of the remarkable everyday men and women who faced extraordinary times during the world wars and gave their lives for their communities.

Mill Road Cemetery contains the graves of 38 casualties from the First and Second World Wars, as well as many more inscriptions on family memorials to loved ones buried abroad. Working with the Friends of Mill Road Cemetery, the Parochial Burial Grounds Management Committee, and Cambridge City Council, these tours will highlight the lives of ordinary people living in extraordinary times and the work involved in keeping their names alive.

Information and family activities will be available throughout the day at the site of the central chapel. 

Tours will take place at 10:00, 13:00, and 15:30, and will last approximately an hour. Tickets are essential to maintain the safety of all in attendance. We ask that social distancing is maintained as much as possible in the space.

To learn more and book your free tickets, click here.

Dogs and their families are welcome to join at the 10:00 and 15:30 tours.

Children are particularly welcome at the 15:30 tour, and must be accompanied by an adult. 

Please note that this is a City Wildlife Site and therefore may be exposed roots and low branches. Nettles and stinging insects are also found throughout the site. We will make visitors aware of hazards and ask that visitors stick to the paths and are aware of their surroundings at all times.

There are no toilets and no parking available at site. There are, hoverer, a wealth of independent cafés to obtain light refreshments before or after your visit.

Mill Road is served by Stagecoach in Cambridge’s citi 2 bus route. The nearest stop, in each direction is Covent Garden, but is also known as Mackenzie Road. Click here to view download a timetable (PDF). It is also a short walk from Cambridge Station, through the car park, ahead along Devonshire Road, left along Mill Road and crossing buy the Co-op and Wood Green Charity shop.

Mill Road Cemetery, Mill Road, Cambridge, CB1 2AW, can be accessed from Mill Road, Mackenzie Road, Norfolk Street and through the Gwydir Street Business Units yard.

To learn more about Mill Road Cemetery, its history and the Friends of Mill Road Cemetery, click here.

Toy Library in Romsey Town

But open to all. Yes, even parents and children from the other side of Mill Road Bridge, in Petersfield!

Merry Go Round Toy Library, based in Ross Street Community Centre, Ross Street, Cambridge CB1 3UZ, have recently opened again.

The volunteers who run the Toy Library asked Mill Road Bridges to help more parents in Romsey and the surrounding areas become aware of what’s on offer. Find out more from their website here: Merry Go Round Toy Library.

Regular opening times are the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month, from 10:00 to 11:15 am.

This regular pattern has had to change, from May to September, as below:

  • Friday 20th May 2022
  • Friday 24th June 2022
  • Friday 8th July 2022
  • Friday 22nd July 2022 (last day of term for many)
  • No sessions in August 2022
  • Friday 2nd September 2022
  • Friday 16th September 2022

The Toy Library is open to all parents/carers across Cambridge, who can bring their kids to play for a bit and/or just turn up to borrow toys. You can browse the Toy Library catalogue here. The slideshow below shows just a small selection of what’s on offer.

As you can see from the catalogue, prices for borrowing are really low. But you will need to use cash, as the Toy Library has not found a way to go cashless.

You need to sign up for Toy Library membership to borrow toys.
Lifetime membership costs the princely sum of £1!

Not a member yet? Join on-line through this link: Join the Merry Go Round Toy Library.

Toy Library in action (photo with consent of the adults involved)

Merry Go Round Toy Library, has been running out of Ross St Community Centre since the 1990s.


On Monday 25th April 2022, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Jeremy Sallis interviewed Rachel Edwards of Merry Go Round Toy Library.

To listen to the interview, click on this image of Jeremy Sallis as Superman.
Note this toy is not available from Merry Go Round Toy Library

Because of the intervention of Covid-19, the Toy Library had a very long break, and they not only want to build up a greater membership, but are also hoping to enlist more volunteers to help running sessions.

The more volunteers, the less each one has to do: anything from setting up, tidying up, helping to make teas/coffees, booking out and returning toys or even being a marketing mogul are all welcome. You can use this link – Volunteering for Merry Go Round Toy Library – to enquire.

New Community Centre for Mill Road – information evening

NEW COMMUNITY CENTRE on the Ironworks site
Information Evening
27th April, 19.00-20.00
St Barnabas Centre, Mill Road
Everyone Welcome
Come along and find out more, share your ideas, have your say!
 
Would you like to run an activity, volunteer, help us fund-raise? CONTACT: helen@pactcambridge.org or admin@romseymill.org
Click the image to view/download a printable poster for this event

Everyone is welcome to attend this Information Evening, on Wednesday 27th April, 19:00-20:00 at St Barnabas Centre, Mill Road, CAMBRIDGE CB1 2BD. Maximum community participation is the best recipe for the success of this very welcome venture.

Since 1998, there has been an ongoing saga in Petersfield of the lack of community facilities. Many local people felt the loss of youth facilities due to the transformation of the Howard Mallett Centre (HMC), first into a multi-media centre from 1998, then leased to a local group who proposed building offices and housing (on land which was given in perpetuity to local residents “for rest and recreation”!)

Read more on the Petersfield Area Community Trust website.

Mill Road Bridges were delighted to learn in early 2020 that…

A new partnership of local community organisations has been appointed by Cambridge City Council to manage the new community centre that will be built as part of the ‘Ironworks’ housing scheme on the former Mill Road Depôt site.

Romsey Mill Trust and Petersfield Area Community Trust worked collaboratively to submit a successful tender to secure an initial 11-year lease to run the new community building for local residents and community groups to use. 

PLANNED NEW MILL ROAD COMMUNITY CENTRE

Fuller details of the project can be found in this Romsey Mill blogpost from Friday 31st January 2020 – Romsey Mill to manage new planned Mill Road Community Centre in partnership with Petersfield Area Community Trust.

If you would like to run an activity, volunteer, or help with fund-raising, click here to email helen@pactcambridge.org/admin@romseymill.org.


Whilst you are welcome to add comments, below, these will not be routinely monitored by Romsey Mill Trust and/or Petersfield Area Community Trust.

Mill Road Consultations (again)

Have your say on improving Mill Road

The Greater Cambridge Partnership is consulting on Mill Road and its potential future and want to hear from residents, people who visit, work on, or use Mill Road, and people who own businesses on and near the road, as well as people who travel through the area.

The consultation closes at midday on Monday 21st March 2022.

Image of cover of booklet mentioned in caption
Click on the image to visit the consultation page.
Click here to view/download the Mill Road Spring 2022 booklet (PDF)

The Greater Cambridge Partnership is the body set up under a ‘City Deal’ in agreement with (then) Chancellor, George Osborne, with a budget of over £500 million.

Venn diagram from Smarter Cambridge Transport, showing the complexity of local government bodies in Cambridgeshire
Image courtesy of Smarter Cambridge Transport

This consultation (and the related on-line ‘workshops’, run by Involve, UK’s leading public participation charity) are initial stages where the Greater Cambridge Partnership are asking the public for their views on a range of options for Mill Road. Read more about the consultation in the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s explanatory booklet (PDF).


Local groups welcome consultation

Camcycle (Cambridge Cycling Campaign), Mill Road Traders’ Association and local campaigning group Mill Road – A Street For People, issued a joint statement (PDF) welcoming a new round of consultation on improving Mill Road, recognising differences of views about how Mill Road could see improvements to safety, attractiveness of trade and an improved environment, and agreeing that the consultation must be carried out in an effective, fair and inclusive way. They did, however, express some reservations about the focus group ‘workshops’ mentioned above. As a result, an additional Sunday workshop session has been arranged. See below.

All are united in urging local residents, and everyone who travels or trades along Mill Road, to respond and share their views.


How else can I find out more, and give my views?

Greater Cambridge Partnership is holding public meetings, in-person drop-ins and a Sunday (on-line) workshop. All of these require (free) pre-registration. Find out more and register here – Public meetings, in-person drop-ins and Greater Cambridge Partnership workshop.

There will also be a Greater Cambridge Partnership East Community Forum (on-line) meeting, on Monday 21st March 2022. Projects that will be discussed include Cambridge Eastern Access, Chisholm Trail phases 1 & 2, Mill Road and the Greenways. Find out more and register here – Greater Cambridge Partnership East Community Forum meeting.


Wasn’t this issue settled in the summer of 2021?

The earlier Experimental Traffic Regulation Order, was brought in by Cambridgeshire County Council, at the behest of central government, with a degree of urgency, in response to health needs at that time. There was a consultation, during the experiment, whose outcome was unclear, owing to some people submitting multiple responses to the survey.

At the time a Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “…an open survey format was used. Unfortunately, this meant that the system was open to mischief-making – but duplicate entries and patterns can be spotted, as they were in this case.” New controversy over data on Mill Road bridge consultation in Cambridge By Gemma Gardner, Cambridge Independent, 27 October 2021.

At this point Cambridgeshire County Councillors on the Highways and Transport Committee voted to allow the road to reopen to general traffic, with the plan to ask for public views on the future of the road. In November 2021, the Highways and Transport Committee voted to ask the Greater Cambridge Partnership to carry out a further consultation on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council.

The latest consultation, which closes at midday on Monday 21st March 2022, is an initial stage to assess views on the future of Mill Road. When the Greater Cambridge Partnership, in collaboration with Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways and Transport Committee have firm proposals there will be a full (statutory) consultation, ahead of implementation of any permanent Traffic Regulation Order.


Aren’t there a number of other issues?

Yes…

But the present blogpost might stretch into eternity if these were considered here. The questions below, and related issues, are considered in a related blogpost, currently in preparation – More thoughts on Mill Road’s future. (This link will work as soon as the associated blogpost is published.)


Many people appreciated the greater safety for foot and cycle traffic during the earlier bridge restrictions, others complained about the limitations to the use of motor-vehicles. Whatever your opinions, do click through to the Greater Cambridge Partnership Mill Road consultation page to make them known.

And please make full use of the three narrative responses to give the Greater Cambridge Partnership the benefit of your comprehensive views.


This post was updated on Monday 28th February 2022, to correct links to the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s explanatory booklet (PDF), as the link had been changed, internally, on the consultation page.
It ws further updated to provide links to each section of the related blogpost– More thoughts on Mill Road’s future, and to clarify that this is now published.


Most of Mill Road Bridges’ blogposts are open to (polite) comments. This one is not, in order to collate comments in the related blogpost– More thoughts on Mill Road’s future.

More thoughts on Mill Road’s future

The Greater Cambridge Partnership is consulting on the potential future of Mill Road, and wants to hear from residents, people who visit, work on, or use Mill Road, and people who own businesses on and near the road, as well as people who travel through the area.

This post explores a number of related issues.

Image of cover of booklet mentioned in caption
Click on the image to visit the consultation page.
Click here to view/download the Mill Road Spring 2022 booklet (PDF)

For fuller details on this consultation, public meetings, in-person drop-ins and a Sunday (on-line) workshop, see our earlier blogpost – Mill Road Consultations (again).


What are the related issues?

Wasn’t this issue settled in the summer of 2021?

The earlier Experimental Traffic Regulation Order was brought in by Cambridgeshire County Council, at the behest of central government, with a degree of urgency, in response to health needs at that time. There was a consultation, during the experiment, whose outcome was unclear, owing to some people submitting multiple responses to the survey.

At the time a Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “…an open survey format was used. Unfortunately, this meant that the system was open to mischief-making – but duplicate entries and patterns can be spotted, as they were in this case.” New controversy over data on Mill Road bridge consultation in Cambridge By Gemma Gardner, Cambridge Independent, 27 October 2021.

At this point Cambridgeshire County Councillors on the Highways and Transport Committee voted to allow the road to reopen to general traffic, with the plan to ask for public views on the future of the road. In November 2021, the Highways and Transport Committee voted to ask the Greater Cambridge Partnership to carry out a further consultation on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council.

Back to related issues index.


Will this consultation be an improvement?

The latest consultation, which closes at midday on Monday 21st March 2022, is an initial stage to assess views on the future of Mill Road.

The Mill Road Spring 2022 consultation uses the expertise of Bang the Table’s EngagementHQ Platform.

When and if the Greater Cambridge Partnership, in collaboration with Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways and Transport Committee have firm proposals they are obliged to undertake a full (statutory) consultation, ahead of implementation of any permanent Traffic Regulation Order(s).

There are also related on-line ‘workshops’, run by Involve, UK’s leading public participation charity.

But you can’t please everyone…

An article – Mill Road traffic survey slammed by irate locals for being ‘too restrictive’ By Fareid Atta, Cambridge News, 25 February 2022 – highlights a number of arguments found on social media.

I feel [the survey] has been constructed to lead to an outcome they desire, and forcing you to vote for the status quo.

The questionnaire does not allow people to really affect the result by offering the “required” “yes”, “no” questions.

Two comments cited in the Cambridge News article linked above.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership’s explanatory booklet (PDF) outlines measures that could be put in place on Mill Road.
One of the survey questions asks:

How far are you supportive or unsupportive of the following three options for Mill Road? Please refer to pages 6-8 of the brochure.
Theme 1: Do nothing
Theme 2: Improve the quality of place
Theme 3: Changes to traffic and access in the medium and longer term

Mill Road 2022 consultation

Each ‘theme’ is outlined in full, and each can be answered on a scale of ‘Strongly support’ , through ‘Neither support nor oppose’, to ‘Strongly oppose’. What is “too restrictive” in that? See the slideshow below. Reading the detail will be clearer by viewing/downloading the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s explanatory booklet (PDF).

  • These images do not support reader technology. Please view/download the Greater Cambridge Partnership's explanatory booklet (PDF) mentioned earlier.
  • These images do not support reader technology. Please view/download the Greater Cambridge Partnership's explanatory booklet (PDF) mentioned earlier.
  • These images do not support reader technology. Please view/download the Greater Cambridge Partnership's explanatory booklet (PDF) mentioned earlier.

Moreover there are three open questions, each enabling an extended narrative response:

Do you have any other comments on the future of Mill Road?

Please comment if you feel any of the proposals would either positively or negatively affect or impact on any such person/s or group/s. [Relating to the potential impact on people of differing ethnic or religious groups, genders, people with disabilities, etc.]

Do you have any other comments about our proposals for Mill Road or how the road could function in the future?

Mill Road 2022 consultation

Quite how these questions are “too restrictive” is difficult to understand.

But I still find the questions unhelpful; I want to state my own views

If you really don’t like the questions, and would prefer to email your thoughts on the future of Mill Road, email consultations@greatercambridge.org.uk with the subject line “Mill Road Consultation spring 2022” or something very similar. Put as many paragraphs into your email as you wish and state your personal view. Add either your full address or all of your postcode except the last two letters. Your views will be recorded.

Back to related issues index.


Shouldn’t Mill Road take a ‘fair share’ of through motor-traffic?

This seems to be the view of Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge Business Improvement District.

We need to take a holistic view of city access and thus cannot just include one road, or even one bridge on one road. It is not surprising many Mill Road residents were happy with the closure – less traffic, cleaner air, and a nicer environment to walk and cycle. However, once the city did open up and visitors, workers and goods could not easily access the city, then the folly of a single-street solution became clear and it was demonstrated how unequal this approach is.

Mill Road can’t be viewed in isolation By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge Business Improvement District, Sponsored feature, Cambridge Independent, 17 February 2022.

Sandison also writes:

Buses seem to be a popular solution and, to be fair, many workers would happily travel into Cambridge by bus if they were quick, available early and late at night, affordable, clean and green and the network was more comprehensive. This would make the city more attractive to workers and visitors who can be deterred by the current congestion issues. To really incentivise people to use buses we need them to be funded upfront so they have a positive alternative to their car.

ibid

That seems fair enough but, beyond any up-front ‘seedcorn’ injection of public funds, better bus services will require revenue schemes beyond farebox receipts. However, Sandison is on record for opposing a congestion charge which could provide exactly such a revenue stream.

Workers in the retail hospitality and leisure industries are towards the lower end of the pay scale. They often cannot afford to live in our beautiful city. They spend too long each day commuting, usually by car, since their home is poorly served by an inefficient and unavailable, at the right times, public transport system.

I was thus taken aback to read of the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s plans to introduce a congestion charge…

Good COP or bad COP? It’s hard to tell By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge Business Improvement District, Sponsored feature, Cambridge Independent, 18 November 2021.

Indeed Sandison is in favour of allowing commuters to park in our residential areas, adding to traffic congestion and obstructing the existing bus services.

Many … workers park on the public highway for free in the residential streets around the city…

Maintaining … on-street free parking and not having a congestion charge are essential if the city wishes to still be able to attract workers in this sector. I would ask those in favour of more residents’ parking schemes to consider this.

You can’t park here mate! Considering the Cambridge parking and congestion challenge By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge Business Improvement District, Sponsored feature, Cambridge Independent, 20 January 2022.

Improved bus services and lower fares would help the least affluent residents and workers – those who cannot afford cars nor the petrol to fill their tanks, nor shiny new electric vehicles. But, how is it possible to improve public transport without reducing the volume of traffic passing through the city?

It is astonishing how (even in the midst of a climate crisis) there are those who imagine that poverty can be eased by further facilitating private motoring.

Why does the CEO of Cambridge Business Improvement District use advertorial, to comment on Mill Road, an area of the city which is outside their remit? Should they be permitted, as a body, rather than as individuals, to influence the current Mill Road consultation?

Unfettered access to the city centre by private vehicles might be in the interests of Cambridge Business Improvement District – though, arguably vastly improved public transport would be of better benefit – but could seriously disadvantage Mill Road as a shopping destination.

And there is no sign of Cambridge Cambridge Business Improvement District seeking to remove restrictions on vehicular access to St Andrew’s Street, Sidney Street, Bridge Street, Magdalene Street, St John’s Street, Trinity Street, King’s Parade and Market Street in the historic city centre, nor to Fitzroy Street and Burleigh Street in the Grafton Quarter.

Ian Sandison says that providing a better Mill Road in a single-street solution is unequal. In what way is this so? In a densely populated area with significant numbers of multi-occupancy homes, with many householders that use bikes and foot as their primary means of travel, in a city with relatively low ownership of cars, why shouldn’t priority be given to the Mill Road area to become the first low traffic neighbourhood?

Paul Lythgoe, Mill Road 4 People

Moreover, the extent to which motor-traffic is displaced onto other roads when a road is restricted and the degree to which that motor-traffic ‘evaporates’ (ie vehicular journeys are no longer made) is a moot point. Fortunately there is  Cambridge City Smart Sensor Traffic Count open data which monitors this.

Image as caption
Weekly motor vehicle volumes on Mill Road, Coldhams Lane and Cherry Hinton Road,
from June 2019 to October 2021. Click here to view a larger version, in a new tab.

Counterintuitively, the evidence is clear – the 2019 bridge closure for railway works and the 2020-21 bridge restrictions had no sustained impact on traffic levels on Coldham’s Lane and Cherry Hinton Road. Read more, here – traffic displacement: myth or reality?

Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


But hasn’t Mill Road ‘always been an arterial route’?

No. Despite what is alleged on some social media, Mill Road has not ‘always been an arterial route’, neither is it designated as a primary or secondary distributor road. Look closely at this video of a present-day OpenStreetMap fading to an Ordnance Survey 1″ 7th series map. Check the east end of Mill Road before the construction of Barnwell Road.

Video created from National Library of Scotland’s Explore Georeferenced Maps page.
The link should allow you to drag the slider (bottom left) to explore the maps yourself.

The use of roads in shopping and residential areas is always evolving. In the 1960s, the A10, A45 and A604 ran through central Cambridge, with Regent Street, St Andrew’s Street, Sidney Street, Bridge Street, Magdalene Street, St John’s Street, Trinity Street, King’s Parade and Trumpington Street all designated as trunk roads.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership are currently reviewing Cambridge’s ‘Road Network Hierarchy’ under which Mill Road would be designated a ‘Local Access Street’. Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


So, what makes Mill Road special, and different from other routes into the city?

Mill Road is very much a destination for people seeking to source specialist foods and to sample cuisine from around the globe. It has a higher proportion of independent shops, cafés & restaurants than any other Cambridge street.

Travel beyond Reality Checkpoint on Parkers Piece and you might see that Mill Road is a fairly unique place in Cambridge. There is a vibrant street life from end to end with independent cafés, restaurants, and shops. The bridge restriction made the road a safer place to be for all. Active travel to destinations within Mill Road and as a through route to the city was encouraged. Mill Road 4 People have surveyed and talked to local residents and visitors.  We know how it was changing people’s lives and helping them choose active modes of transport. 

Paul Lythgoe, Mill Road 4 People

Mill Road is also the proud home of the beautiful Cambridge Central Mosque, its advanced eco-design giving it a near-zero carbon footprint. It will soon be home (again) to a carved stone archway. Saved after it was removed from a former Hindu temple, it could be installed in the garden of Ditchburn Place, a sheltered housing community, and former maternity hospital, subject to planning approval. Read more here: Hindu temple arch looks set for Cambridge garden home By Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent, 25 February 2022.

We have, indeed, previously asked is Mill Road – the high street of a small town within Cambridge city?

However, not only is Mill Road a high street it is also a residential street with over 200 front doors opening onto the street behind which there live over 1,000 residents.

Nearly all premises along Mill Road are residential in whole, or in part, with over a mile of front doors and front windows situated less than 5 metres from the carriageway. This distinguishes Mill Road from all other approaches to the city centre from whatever direction, particularly roads which were developed later, with wider footways, verges and, in many cases, long front gardens separating most residential accommodation from the carriageway.

This makes residents particularly vulnerable to illnesses caused by pollution and to road accidents. Stepping outside their homes can cause injury, as mounting pavements is deemed to be the acceptable norm by passing motorists and by some cyclists avoiding the heavy motor traffic.

We support active travel initiatives across the city but we say that we have been endlessly consulted and promised change – specifically in Mill Road which is always kicked down the road in favour of a ‘holistic’ approach – which may or may not be delivered.

It is absolutely time that something is done and done now to make Mill Road a safer and better place. It will be an exemplar for other initiatives across the city, and following the link through to the north of the city along the Chisholm Trail to Mill Road it will be easily and quickly accessible to so many more. 

Paul Lythgoe, Mill Road 4 People

What Lythgoe asserts about Mill Road waiting, and waiting is amply illustrated by this 1973 clipping from the Cambridge Evening News. Presumably, this being before 1974’s local government reorganisation into two-tier councils, the report will have been on the priorities of the Highways Committee of the Borough of Cambridge.
Perhaps Cambridge Town Owl, Antony Carpen, can confirm or correct this.

Image is of a clipping from Cambridge News, 1973, detailing the highway priorities of Cambridge City Council.

Priorities

They include:

Preparatory work on the Arbury estate peripheral road, the dualling of the south end of East Road and the Napier Street link between East Road and Newmarket Road.
The expansion of car parking with reviews of parking meter charges and policies.
Pedestrianisation in the city centre.
A study into the possible reversal of the City centre one-way system. with some priority facilities for cyclists and buses“
A feasibility study of the “railway route.”
Ii" Ejahvestig‘atiod into the t‘Siossi-
Investigation into the possibility of traffic lights at Mitcham’s Corner, and a Cherry Hinton by-pass.
A study into the possible widening of city centre footpaths and the improvement of cycle bridges over the River Cam at Chesterton.
Closure of Mill Road to all traffic except buses, cycles and service vehicles.
A review of private off-street parking facilities.

Mill Road welcomes destination traffic, by foot, cycle, bus and motor vehicle. Motor traffic needs to be facilitated by clear signage to existing parking facilities, and by more on-street (but off-pavement) short-term parking.

Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


Will the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s Cambridge Road Network Hierarchy Review solve the problem?

The two maps, below illustrate the basic idea. If they alternate too quickly, press the pause button.

This work forms a key component of the City Access work to achieve City Deal objectives of improving public transport and active travel opportunities, reducing traffic and vehicle emissions, and contributing to the net-zero agenda. A review of the road network hierarchy would be the subject of a public consultation in summer 2022.

Cambridge Road Network Hierarchy Review
Report to Greater Cambridge Partnership Joint Assembly 17th February 2022

For those who’d like to read the full detail of the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s draft network hierarchy, the papers, from the Thursday 17th February 2022 Joint Assembly agenda pack, can be viewed/downloaded in full, here (pp 36-53).

For the rest of us, an excellent summary –Biggest shake-up of Cambridge road network for 40 years, by Gemma Gardner, Cambridge Independent, may be read here.

Will this affect Mill Road?

Certainly, however, there does not, as yet, appear to be a timescale on implementation.

Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


Road safety – the Police and Crime Commissioner’s view.

Darryl Preston, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is concerned that the road hierarchy review is insufficiently focussed on road safety.

I would like to highlight an important issue for consideration when discussing proposals for your Cambridge Road Network Hierarchy Review on 17th February.

As you will be aware, road safety is a key theme in my Police and Crime Plan. As a former police officer, I personally dealt with far too many serious injuries and fatal incidents and saw for myself the devastation these avoidable incidents can have on loved ones.

For the 3 years pre-pandemic, there were an average 69 Killed or Seriously injured (KSI) casualties in Cambridge city every year – 62% of these were cyclists and a further 16% pedestrians, making nearly 4/5 of all KSI casualties in the city pedestrians or cyclists.

I am sure you are all committed, as I am, to supporting the county’s Vision Zero Strategy to eliminate road deaths. I would therefore urge you to consider making road safety a more explicit priority or objective within the core of the Review document. I appreciate that there is some reference to it already and a number of measures already included could be interpreted as contributing to safer roads. However, given that this is such a serious issue, I strongly believe that any strategy or policy documents relating to our roads should explicitly include ‘safer roads’ as a priority. With that comes an ability to deliver outcome metrics based on safety which in turn can look at contributory funding. 

I urge you to take my recommendation forward and would welcome further discussion.

Darryl Preston, Police and Crime Commissioner
Email to Greater Cambridge Partnership members, ahead of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Joint Assembly Thursday 17th February 2022
And Mill Road’s safety…

It is worth noting that, following a Freedom of Information request, data from Cambridgeshire Police named Mill Road as the worst-affected single road for injuries over the past three years. Read more: Mill Road named most dangerous road in Cambridge by Krystian Schneyder, Varsity, Monday January 31 2022.

Further detail on Mill Road’s collisions, using Data from DfT/police STATS19, from 1999-2020, is mapped in this link. (Thanks to Martin L-S.)

Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


Will the ‘Cambridge Eastern Access Project’ resolve matters for Mill Road?

The project will, will include Mill Road, but it will be a be a long time coming.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership held an eight-week public consultation on the Cambridge Eastern Access Project, which closed to comments on 18th December 2020. On 1st July 2021 the Executive Board approved the Strategic Outline Business Case that confirmed there is a strategic case – and public support – for improvements to public transport, cycling and walking for those travelling into Cambridge from the east. The Thursday 17th February 2022 Joint Assembly agenda pack, shows this project to be in the ‘Early Design’ stage, with a ‘Forecast Completion Date’ of 2027. Reference here (p93).

Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


Why consult on Mill Road, alone?

One argument that is often put forward against traffic restrictions on Mill Road is that it should be done in the context of city-wide traffic reduction measures.

On the face of it, this is a seductive argument – who wouldn’t want to see lower traffic and pollution over the whole of the city? But in our view, that goal is totally compatible with starting work on Mill Road at the earliest possible opportunity.

Liz Walter, Mill Road 4 People, Saturday 19th February 2022

Liz, posting on behalf of Mill Road 4 People, cites speeding motor-vehicles, dangerous overtaking, pavement parking and air pollution levels regularly exceeding WHO guidelines, amongst other reasons why Mill Road can’t wait. See: Why Mill Road can’t wait for a city-wide plan

Councillor Neil Shailer, Romsey County Division, Labour, speaking at the Greater Cambridge Partnership Joint Assembly on 17th February 2022 argued that Traffic Regulation Orders for Mill Road need to be prioritised within the context of city access, as accident statistics confirm that Mill Road is the most dangerous road in the city.

The special characteristics of Mill Road noted above suggest that Mill Road should be prioritised as this has the potential to improve the well-being of the greatest number of people.  It would be impractical to deal with all of the city’s traffic and transport problems on a ‘big-bang’ citywide basis at exactly the same time as imposing all mooted measures across the city simultaneously would cause chaos. They need to be phased.

Back to related issues index.


Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s view

Camcycle’s position is that motor-traffic on Mill Road needs to be substantially reduced and that this is best achieved through a modal filter to prevent through motor-traffic while allowing cycling and walking journeys the full length of the road. It should be possible to exempt some motor vehicles such as those required for time-critical deliveries or to transport disabled people.

Camcycle’s vision for Mill Road sets out how Mill Road could be improved, following the reduction of traffic, to create a vibrant place for people where community and local business can thrive. Their summary can be read here: Camcycle guide to the Mill Road consultation – Spring 2022.

Back to related issues index.


Have your say on improving Mill Road

The consultation closes at midday on Monday 21st March 2022.

For fuller details on this consultation, public meetings, in-person drop-ins and a Sunday (on-line) workshop, see our earlier blogpost – Mill Road Consultations (again).

Back to related issues index.


Like most of Mill Road Bridges’ blogposts this post is open to (polite) comments, relating to this post or to our earlier post – Mill Road Consultations (again).

Party like it’s 1999?

Image © OutNewsGlobal click to visit their site. Click the image to see Prince.

And, would-Jubillee-ve it, you might get a grant!

Queen’s Platinum Jubilee event funding

The City Council are providing grants of up to £500 for events and activities in Cambridge that will commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

If you are considering running such an event and are seeking funding, read the application information document (PDF, click here)  email: grants@cambridge.gov.uk or call the Grants Team on T: 01223 457857 to request an application form.


But it’s not just parties, and not just the Jubilee…

Groups of local residents or voluntary groups can apply to the Cambridge City Council’s area committees for funding for projects, activities or services.

The priorities for Area Committee Community Grants specifically focus on reducing social and economic inequality for disadvantaged residents. Projects or activities should benefit a specific community or people living in a particular area.

The application process for the 2022/23 round of area committee funding is now open. The closing date for completed applications for groups in and around the Mill Road area is Tuesday 8th February 2022.

For fuller information, including deadlines for other areas of Cambridge, visit the Cambridge City Council’s Area Committee Funding page.

To find out whether your group or activity is eligible, and for guidance on how to apply, read/download the Area Committee Community Grant 2022/23 application information [PDF, 0.3MB], and/or watch a webinar presentation explaining how to apply.


Party like it’s May 1945?

The scene in May 1945 when Gwydir Street residents celebrated VE Day. Click the image to read more about Gwydir Street on the Capturing Cambridge website. Photo courtesy of the Cambridgeshire Collection.

Party like it’s June 2002?

Gwydir Street held a street party on Saturday 1st June 2002 for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee…

Click the photo (© The Edkins family) to view more on this event.

‘Levelling up’ – can the Ox-Cam Arc achieve this?

Or is ‘Supersizing’ Cambridge the ‘Belt and Road’ to disaster?

A post in collaboration with the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations

Contents:

What is the Ox-Cam Arc?

Map of the Ox-Cam Arc on the gov.uk website

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc Policy paper, published 18th February 2021 by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (formerly the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government) states:

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc (the Arc) is a globally significant area between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge. It is formed of five ceremonial counties: Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire.

It supports over two million jobs, adds over £110 billion to the economy every year and houses one of the fastest growing economies in England.

There is an opportunity, recognised by government and local partners, to build a better economic, social and environmental future for the area. With high-quality, well-connected and sustainable communities making the Arc an even more beautiful place to live, work and visit.

Oxford-Cambridge Arc Policy paper, published 18th February 2021

‘High-quality’, ‘well-connected’, ‘sustainable’, ‘even more beautiful’ – what’s not to like? Or is the ‘opportunity’, no more than ‘high quality’ hot air, helping ‘well-connected’, people and PLCs ‘sustain’ high earnings?

Oxford-Cambridge arc: “Most people don’t know what it is”

Not sure yourself? This review By Ben Schofield & Pete Cooper, BBC East highlights some of the concerns. (Selected quotes below, click the link above to view the full article.)

The arc is being imposed on the residents.

The government has been thinking of the idea of an Oxford-Cambridge arc for over six years and this is first time the public has been asked for feedback.

Lara Davenport-Ray, Huntingdonshire Green Party

We’re getting good feedback from a wide variety of people and that will provide really helpful input to the policy propositions that we will generate over the next few months into 2022

Chris Pincher, Minister for Housing

I think it’s important, if you are going to develop such a long piece of land, you don’t leave us as a housing estate for the big cities at either end.

Business owner Philippa Shoobert, of engineering and software firm Smart Control Solutions, St Neots

I’m worried the Oxford-Cambridge arc and level of development they’re proposing is going to detract from our character as a historic town, and the rural nature of surrounding towns and villages, and I don’t think building that many houses will help us achieve our zero-carbon goals.

Councillor Stephen Ferguson, Mayor of St Neots

See also The Oxford-Cambridge Arc – Government ambition and joint declaration between Government and local partners (HM Government publication).


Will this corridor ‘Supersize’ Cambridge?

Over 230 people signed up to attend the virtual Supersize Cambridge event which followed the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations‘ Annual General Meeting on Thursday 7th October 2021.

Speakers examined the potential threat which they believe the Ox-Cam Arc poses to Cambridge’s residents, and discussed who stood to benefit from the proposals.

A full video of this meeting is available, on YouTube here.

The Times, Guardian, Financial Times and others have reported on the concerns about China’s growing involvement in Cambridge. Residents are asking, “Is Cambridge and the Ox-Cam Arc part of China’s Belt and Road initiative?”

Wendy Blythe, Chair, Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations, addressing the ‘Supersize Cambridge’ event

Ms Blythe highlighted a tweet, earlier this year, by Ant Breach, senior researcher for Centre for Cities, a think tank funded by Cambridge University Chancellor, Lord Sainsbury, in which Breach said, “I make no apologies for demanding growth and a spicy hot labour market.”

People are asking, “Who are the interests promoting this ‘spicy hot labour market?'”

Wendy Blythe [ibid]

Developers and house builders?

 The beneficiaries of such development will not be local people but shareholders of global companies and the losers will be the vulnerable across a broad range of species. It was a stimulating set of talks.

On-line participant

Who are the Arc’s ‘movers-and-shakers’?

On 21st September 2017,  the creation of a new lectureship, in Chinese urban development, funded through a gift of £1m to Cambridge University’s Department of Land Economy, was announced after a signing ceremony held in Hong Kong. The donor was Justin Chiu, a director of CK Asset Holdings, which owns Greene King, the Bury St Edmunds based brewer and pub retailer.

CK Asset Holdings, a property investment company, was founded by the Hong Kong businessman Li Ka Shing and is now chaired by his son Victor, as is its sister company, CK Hutchison Holdings. The latter is another Hong Kong based conglomerate, whose UK investments include the majority of UK Power Networks, Northumbrian Water Group, the 3 mobile phone network and Hutchison Port Holdings (a private holding company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, operators of Harwich International Port, London Thamesport and Felixstowe Port, much of the freehold of the latter being owned by Trinity College).

Writing in Cambridge University Land Society Magazine 2019 (p 108), Professor Colin Lizieri, then Head of the Department of Land Economy and Grosvenor Professor of Real Estate Finance, said:

We […] welcomed Dr Li Wan as the new Chinese Urban Development lecturer (the post funded by a generous donation from Dr Justin Chiu). Li’s expertise lies in spatial modelling of cities and infrastructure. After completing his PhD (in the Architecture department at Cambridge), he has been working in the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and developing models for cities in China, in Korea and in the UK. His knowledge of modelling and the use of large digital data sets will be very valuable for both our research and teaching and complements Dr Elisabete Silva’s work with the Interdisciplinary Spatial Analysis Lab (LISA) and with Dr Thies Lindenthal’s big data work as part of our growing emphasis on technological change and transformation of urban land and property markets.

Professor Colin Lizieri, Cambridge University Land Society Magazine 2019 (p108)

The postholder, Dr Li Wan, worked on Land Use-based Integrated Sustainability Assessment (LUISA) modelling for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Review (CPIER).  The modelling work, for which he was the lead from 2017-2019, was funded by the business group Cambridge Ahead and the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority. To download a high resolution version of the CPIER Final Report (PDF), click here.

It might be interesting to read (excerpts of) an article by Dr Li Wan, in Cambridge University Land Society Magazine 2019, since CPIER is cited in the government’s Local Industrial Strategy in support of the Oxford Cambridge Arc and in the Greater Cambridge Employment Land and Economic Development Strategy which justifies employment  ‘need’ for building forty-nine thousand houses. Click to read/download the Greater Cambridge Employment Land and Economic Development Evidence Study, Final Report, November 2020.

Planning for growth – the application of a new spatial equilibrium model for Cambridge and Beijing

By Dr Li Wan, University Lecturer in Chinese Urban development, Department of Land Economy BArch, MPhil, PhD (Cantab)

This short article introduces the application of a new spatial equilibrium model (LUISA) developed by Cambridge scholars for supporting the strategic planning of two fast- growing city regions – the Greater Cambridge in the UK and the Greater Beijing in China.

Greater Cambridge is an economic hot spot where growth has outpaced the rest of the UK throughout the past decade. But the economic success comes with a price: house prices have soared – the city’s average house price is now 16 times the median salary; worsening traffic congestion and air pollution is threatening the vitality of the city; and public services are being put under strain by the growing population. …

To quantify the possible futures of the Greater Cambridge city region, the modelling research started with a ‘business as usual’ scenario, assuming that the region grows according to current trends of employment growth and local plans for housing. This scenario showed that even a modest rise in jobs would lead to considerable wage pressure in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire and an unmanageable amount of in- commuting which would choke growth. The LUISA model was then used to explore a range of alternative spatial strategies that aim to balancing (sic) the growth of employment, housing and transport infrastructure:

  • Densification – concentrating new employment and housing within the city boundaries: this can accommodate the largest amount of jobs and people around existing and new rail hubs, but could risk worsening congestion and air quality in spite of convenient public transport access;
  • Fringe growth – extending urban areas around the edges of the city: this brings the highest financial returns with more modest building construction costs, but needs to use Green Belt land and will increase car use;
  • Dispersal – encouraging growth to go to market towns or newly created settlements beyond the Green Belt: this could spread the growth and gain social and environmental benefits, but would rely on the willingness of companies to move away from current centres of high productivity;
  • Transport corridors – developing new sites for jobs and housing
    along existing and new fast public transit services that emanate from Cambridge: this offers space for continued growth of existing business clusters while unlocking potential of new sites that could attract growth, but this requires the highest infrastructure investment.
Dr Li Wan, University Lecturer in Chinese Urban development, Department of Land Economy BArch, MPhil, PhD (Cantab), in Cambridge University Land Society Magazine 2019 (pp 114-116)

Click the link in the citation (above) to read/download the publication cited.


But, the Ox-Cam Arc’s stated objective is to “enhance the area’s natural environment and biodiversity.” What’s wrong with that?

Place-making

With a strategic approach to planning for growth, we can enhance the area’s natural environment and biodiversity, ensure communities and businesses have access to the infrastructure they need, and ensure new development is more affordable and beautiful so that it enhances places across the Arc.

Oxford-Cambridge Arc Policy paper, published 18th February 2021

So what are the objections?

David Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Ecology at the University of Oxford, representing the Stop the Arc Group, gave a keynote speech on how increasing house building in the areas linking Oxford and Cambridge by 53% to 61%, when the average need, nationally, is assessed at a 13% increase, is unsustainable for our environment. Water shortages, pollution and loss of biodiversity will be the outcome, despite planners claiming that they are going to “double nature”.  It was pointed out that politicians still follow the mantra that economic growth is the gauge of societal and electoral advantage, ignoring our environment’s fitness for human habitation.

 The voices of the people need to be heard loud and clear, and the government consultation has too many “leading” questions for it to deliver accurate results. That is why the campaigning group Stop the Arc has created an alternative questionnaire to that created by the government for the stage 1 consultation. The survey is quick to complete (about 5 five minutes) so PLEASE take the time to do it, and then to pass on the link to as many people as possible.

Campaign to Protect Rural England, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

You can take part in Stop the Arc Group’s 5-minute survey of the proposed OxCam Arc, here.

#Ecocide, adds Monica Hone…

Supersize Cambridge event, contribution from Monica Hone

‘Supersize’ resisters are in good company…

We’re abusing rivers in this country on a scale that we have never done at any point in the past. And yet, here we are, the proud possessor of 85% of the world’s total supply of chalk streams and not one of them is in good environmental health.

Feargal Sharkey, former Undertones frontman, on his love of fishing and saving chalk streams
Feargal Sharkey fishing on the River Lea in Hertfordshire where he is chairman of the Amwell Magna Fishery Credit: ITV News Anglia

ITV News Anglia reporter Hannah Pettifer caught up with Feargal Sharkey on the banks of the River Lea in Hertfordshire, on Tuesday 22nd June 2021. To read a summary and view the report on the ITV News Anglia website, click here.

Spot the ‘Undertone’ of Sharkey’s contempt for the Environment Agency…


See also, The Oxford-Cambridge Arc; An Environmental Catastrophe – with Professor David Rogers.

Anyone for Greenwashing?

As we rebuild our economic life, we should do it on green principles, averting a crisis many times greater than the coronavirus: climate breakdown and the collapse of our life-support systems.

This means no more fossil fuel-based infrastructure. Even existing infrastructure, according to climate scientists, could push us past crucial thresholds. It means an end to megaprojects whose main purpose is enriching construction companies.

Perhaps the definitive example of such projects in the UK is the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. It’s a plan to build a conurbation of 1 million homes – twice the size of Birmingham – from Oxford to Cambridge. This is far beyond the region’s housing demand. Its purpose, government agencies admit, is not to meet the need for homes, but “to maximise [the area’s] economic potential”.

But [recently], a new campaign came to the rescue. It has rebranded the project Nature’s Arc”. Apparently, with some adjustments, this massive exercise in concrete pouring “could show how development can restore nature, rather than destroy it”. Building up to a million homes, the new PR blitz tells us, is “the perfect opportunity to invest in nature, improve people’s lives and realise the green recovery.”

How did wildlife groups start collaborating in the destruction of nature?
George Monbiot, The Guardian, June 2020

Resources are under pressure

Cambridge and the surrounding area has always been a great place to live. But what will it be like in 20 years? The city is facing a period of huge change. The local population is growing and getting older. There is an urgent need for more housing. Resources are under pressure. And transport networks are becoming increasingly congested.

Peter Landshoff, Professor Emeritus at Cambridge University, speaking in 2013, as reported in Cambridge Network’s CambridgePPF welcomes launch of Cambridge Ahead.

Two of CambridgePPF’s trustees – Matthew Bullock and Peter Landshoff – are members of the Cambridge Ahead board and are helping to put together its initial projects. Matthew Bullock is a member of the project group looking to ‘Clarify The Growth Agenda’ and Peter Landshoff is involved in the body’s work to ‘Improve the Quality of Life’ in the city.

Cambridge Network, ibid

Economic Bonfire

Business, enterprise and employment are flourishing in Greater Cambridge. But housing and infrastructure are struggling to match the jobs boom, and gaps in social equality keep widening. 

University academics are connecting their insights, data and algorithms to find solutions to the area’s ‘growing pains’.

“Economic growth is like a bonfire,” says Matthew Bullock. “You can get a bonfire going and expand it as long as you keep feeding the centre. But you can’t pick a bonfire up and move it somewhere else.”

Bullock is talking about the economy of Greater Cambridge, where a staggering level of growth has outpaced the rest of the UK over the past decade. As one of the founders of the business and academic organisation Cambridge Ahead, Bullock has been helping to shape a vision for Cambridge and the people who live and work in the area.

“Growth here comes up through the floorboards,” says Bullock, who was one of the original financiers of the ‘Cambridge Phenomenon’ – the development and growth in high-tech businesses in and around the city since the late 1970s – and is now Master of St Edmund’s College.

How to tend an economic bonfire, by Dr Louise Walsh

Growth requires sustainable infrastructure

The debate about growth around Cambridge is still far from settled.

The government wants growth because it yields more tax revenues to pay for pensions, healthcare and all the other public services without raising tax rates. Why Cambridge? Because jobs here are, roughly speaking, more profitable than elsewhere in the country. In part that is because of the concentration of talent and new ideas within the university, research and start-up ecosystem.

For transport, that means planning further extensions to the rail network, giving serious consideration to creating a tram network, and building a major transport hub at the Girton Interchangetravel hubs in every large village, and hundreds of miles of new cycleways linking everywhere.

Edward Leigh, leader of Smarter Cambridge Transport from an opinion piece first published in the Cambridge Independent on 13th October 2021.

Read Edward’s full post on the Smarter Cambridge Transport website, here.

What is happening to bus services around Cambridge?

Stagecoach East is far from unique in having staffing problems – and they’re not the only operator to have been cancelling services recently as a consequence. In order to (try to) provide a little more stability for passengers, they will be implementing a number of changes to Cambridge-area services from Sunday 24th October.

Cambridge Area Bus Users – Stagecoach changes from 24th October

With passenger numbers below pre-Covid levels, some operators are reducing journeys on higher frequency routes in order to minimise the number of drivers required. This runs counter to the ethos of the Bus Recovery Grant and to the needs of passengers. In marginal and rural areas where services were already basic, the impact is particularly severe with people now struggling to access work, education, apprenticeships and healthcare.

Letter to The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport, from Bus Users UK

“We need to give people better transport choices.
And fast.”

‘Slow travel’ is all the rage in the Sunday colour supplements, but has less of a pull when balancing up how to get from Cambridge to Huntingdon on an overcast Wednesday morning in October. We know there’s an urgent need to reduce the number of journeys made by private car, which means making the change a realistic option for more people. So it seemed like a good idea to remind myself what the bus journey was like.

Unsurprisingly, the trip showed how much more investment and imagination is needed in public transport.

Sam Davies, Independent City Councillor for Queen Edith’s ward in Cambridge, update 17th October 2021. (Read Sam’s full post here.)

Interestingly, Centre for Cities hosted an event to discuss the next steps for improving the quality of bus services and their contribution to the economy, supported by bus and rail operator Abellio.

A brief summary – Centre for Cities calls for mayors to reverse outdated bus service – can be found on the Abellio website, here.

Centre for Cities’ report, supported by three bus operators, calls on England’s metro mayors to take control of bus networks to double passenger numbers. The main recommendations are:

  • All metro mayors [should] step up and use their powers to franchise bus services in order to improve passenger uptake and access to buses.
  • Government should simplify the franchising process and back this model everywhere.
  • Centre for Cities criticises deregulation for creating ‘local private monopolies’ that failed to deliver on the promise of better services and increased choice for passengers.

And what of ‘levelling up’?

[O]ne cabinet minister [of Boris Johnson’s government] told The Independent: “It will take 10 years and there will be some pain along the way, particularly in the early part.

“A lot of it depends on building infrastructure – roads and railways and so on – and it takes time to complete and time for people to feel the benefit.”

‘Levelling up’ will take a decade and there will be pain along the way, say ministers – Andrew Woodcock, Political Editor, Independent, Thursday 7th October 2021

Do we need to slash ‘planning bureaucracy’?

Levelling Up will fall flat on its face

Recent statements by the Government and Tory think tanks seek to justify their repeated attacks on the planning system as a contribution to the Levelling Up agenda of the Johnson government. [However] planning reforms will do nothing to level up or reduce glaring geographical inequalities in our country: in fact, they will make these disparities even worse.

In 2021 we are facing the challenge of possible new planning ‘reforms’ based upon […] the idea that planning is the reason for falling housing affordability so relaxations of planning will provide the solution.

[M]ore planning permissions will lead developers and land owners to develop more and bring prices down. It has yet to be explained why developers should continue to build when selling prices are falling, indeed they seem to be adept at avoiding ever doing that by trickling-out their completions slowly enough to maintain high selling prices.

But what planning reforms would support long term locality improvement for the worst hit areas? We can state six broad criteria to start with:

  • Reforms must give localities public steering strength, by withdrawing the recent rash of permitted development rights (which strip places and communities of power) and ensuring local plans can take back control of how space is used.
  • Within localities, reforms must strengthen the roles played by citizens and communities, without whose active creativity and support neither Levelling Up nor adequate response to the climate emergency will be possible.
  • Reforms must enable decisions at the right level, by creating strong strategic plans for economic development and housing with long term funding attached.
  • Planning must make public health a key objective of decisions about new development.
  • Reforms must make zero-carbon a core requirement of every Plan and every substantialplanning application decision.
  • Social housing & special needs housing should be prioritised to help reverse themechanism which makes housing worsen inequality.
Levelling Up: the role of planning
By an independent group of planning practitioners and academics, hosted on the Town and Country Planning Association website, here.

The Ox-Cam Arc and the growth of Cambridge are issues which affect us all – those living in and around Mill Road, in Cambridge, all of the surrounding villages and our nearby market towns. The post is open for contributions. You are welcome to continue the debate.