Passing traffic…

Local Tweeters have reminded the community of what might have been, for the Mill Road area and Cambridge, more generally.

Mill Road Lives

By Dave Baigent, City Councillor for Romsey

The last few days has seen more devastating news for people in the retail sector. More shops are closing in the city centre and this means hundreds, if not thousands of people are losing their jobs. Debenhams is perhaps our biggest casualty so far and these closures point to how much the lack of footfall in the city impacts on the retail market as people work from home. As Covid-19 ends, it is unlikely that working from home will stop. More likely that people will commute some days and work from home on others. The world has changed and this provides a huge opportunity for the traders locally.

There are around 20,000 residents in Romsey, Petersfield and Coleridge who live within a short distance of their local shops. There are over 54 traders on Mill Road who sell food to eat on their premises. As the risk from Covid-19 recedes the opportunity exists for them to attract people who work from home to venture out for a break. The provision shops on our road can also reach out to capture this new market. So too can the hairdressers. At the same time other shops can benefit from this passing trade.

From my position on the Greater Cambridge Partnership, I am able to confirm that Mill Road will soon be a destination highlighted for visitors who arrive at the station: a through route on foot to the city. Traders can react to this and encourage these visitors; it may even be possible to make Mill Road a destination in its own right for visitors to our city. This could also add to the growing night time economy on our road.

Three new shops have opened in as many weeks on Mill Road. Romsey now has a flower shop that deliver flowers by cycle. A baker that sells ‘home-made’ bread and cakes. And yesterday an organic supermarket for food and drinks opened. These are entirely new ventures, and these new traders can obviously see a future in opening here.

Harvest organic supermarket, Romsey Broadway, Mill Road [Photo: Dave Baigent]

There has always been a churn in the shops on Mill Road and, in some ways, this is part of its character as Mill Road adapted to local need. Change, too, is offered by the restrictions on the bridge. Pollution has fallen through the floor, the noise has reduced and it is now so safe that you see parents with their young children cycling over the bridge. Some cafés have extended their services by providing some tables on their shopfront.

This month you have the opportunity to comment on the restriction on the bridge in the County Council’s consultation. A positive outcome will result in the restriction being extended. Then local groups and councillors will be able to negotiate further improvements. At the top of my list it to find a way to support blue badge holders and a close second is to get the plastic bollards taken away, pavements to be widened and for the greening of our road by the provision of raised flower beds similar to those we provided outside the Co-op.

Click the image to read the blogpost referred to, below.

To help people consider the advantages offered by continued ‘restriction’, Over Mill Road Bridge [A separate site with no connection to Mill Road Bridges _Ed] has provided a list of some of the pluses and some comment that you may wish to use if you have yet to fill in the consultation. Why not look at them, here, and see if there are any ideas that you may wish to use?

Take care as Covid-19 is likely to remain a real threat for some time. At the same think about how the world has now changed and how you may contribute to the way our community develops.

Thanks for reading this. If you have any questions then please email me at dave.baigent@councillor.online.


Mill Road Bridges Web-Editor adds…

You can participate in the Mill Road Consultation, online, through clicking this link.

If you, or someone you know, would like a paper copy of the Cambridgeshire County Council consultation document telephone 0345 0455212 to have paper copies posted to you.

Survey participants often complain that the questions asked do not enable them to fully express their views. If you feel that way, you could set your views out clearly in an email to policyandregulation@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

Once again, for those without an internet connection or email account, you can communicate in the traditional way, by writing to:
Policy and Regulation Team
Highways Depot
Stanton Way
HUNTINGDON
PE29 6PY

Mark your letter “Mill Road railway bridge ETRO consultation.”


Readers may also be interested in these items:

Let Mill Road Live

By Francis, a Petersfield resident

All agree that traffic fumes are detrimental to the health and wellbeing of human beings. We residents of Mill Road have found that our health has been impacted by increasing levels of pollution in recent years but it has improved as the volume of traffic was reduced in lockdown. Many Mill Road shops have had their stock rooms converted into flats which means they cannot keep as much stock on their premises as they formerly did and the need for frequent deliveries becomes important – in some cases the decision to convert was made by traders and not landlords. In other cases traders have had to cope with the ill judgement of landlords.

Image of car pumping out carbon dioxide, particulate pollution and oxides of nitrogen, with slogan "More pollution? No solution!"

Our traders are important to our road. We value them and they should welcome measures which benefit their resident neighbours and customers. They should support safe, non-polluted, traffic-free pavements. Excellent bus services and bridge-access rights to those who genuinely need access; Blue-badge holders for example and traders whose warehouses are over the bridge; possibly taxis.

For the good of our community let us say ‘No to accidents caused by vehicles mounting pavements. No to poisonous air. No to heavy-plant and transport-lorries using Mill Road as a rat-run between Bedford and Suffolk’.

Yes to deliveries for local traders, Yes to cleaner air, Yes to local shops for locals, Yes to the right to walk (or use one’s wheel-chair) on the pavement without fear of being knocked down. Yes to parking bays.

If these are your priorities you need to make your voice heard.


Web editor adds:
If you are a Mill Road area resident, a regular user of Mill Road’s shops, a trader, someone who delivers to shops, a taxi/hire car driver…
Whatever your view, do make it known.

Depending who you listen to, this scheme:

  1. has made it safer to cycle to local shops and for pupils heading to and from local schools ;
  2. will wreck Mill Road’s businesses;
  3. has improved air quality, and made the road safer;
  4. has generated more traffic and longer journeys avoiding the bridge;
  5. will help create a much improved ambience to Mill Road, giving a much-needed boost to local businesses.

You can participate in the Mill Road Consultation, online, through clicking this link.

If you, or someone you know, would like a paper copy of the Cambridgeshire County Council consultation document telephone 0345 0455212 to have paper copies posted to you.

Survey participants often complain that the questions asked do not enable them to fully express their views. If you feel that way, you could set your views out clearly in an email to policyandregulation@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

Once again, for those without an internet connection or email account, you can communicate in the traditional way, by writing to:
Policy and Regulation Team
Highways Depot
Stanton Way
HUNTINGDON
PE29 6PY

Mark your letter “Mill Road railway bridge ETRO consultation.”

See also our earlier post National Pavement Parking Ban?

Devonshire Gardens, Cambridge

Digital consultation

Douglas Higgins, Project Director at First Base, writes

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to introduce First Base and our emerging proposals for a new mixed-use neighbourhood in Cambridge.

We would like to invite you to our planned public consultation and associated workshops to help inform our plans.

The site, currently a Travis Perkins depot, is located on Devonshire Road, close to Mill Road bridge and is five minutes’ walk from Cambridge station. Travis Perkins will be relocating to a new state-of-the-art branch in Cambridge, providing an enhanced offering to its customers.

First Base – with RPMI Railpen (the investment manager for the railways pension scheme) – acquired the site earlier this year. We have already started discussions with local stakeholders to help guide our plans for a modern mixed-use quarter, comprising homes, workspace, leisure, and community spaces, arranged around new public gardens. The development – which aspires to be largely car free – will include a dedicated cycle hub and will create new pedestrian and cycle routes linking it to the station.

Click the image to read more on the dedicated Devonshire Gardens website. Image courtesy of First Base.

As part of our wider discussions with stakeholders and other interested groups, we are launching a digital public consultation on these proposals running from 09.00 on Monday 30 November until 21.00 on Sunday 13 December 2020, providing the local community with an opportunity to view our initial ideas for the site and share any comments and feedback.

This information is available here, on the dedicated Devonshire Gardens website. In addition, the consultation is being promoted across social media and in the local press, with newsletters posted to residents in the surrounding area and a freephone telephone number provided for questions and queries 0800 130 31 31.

We will be hosting a series of public webinars during this period, which will include a live, online presentation by – and Q&A with – members of the project team.

The first workshop was:

Topic: Character and Sense of Place
Date: Wednesday 2nd December 2020 (12.30-13.30)
Location: Zoom Meeting Platform (Online)

Read Charlotte de Blois’ review of the first two Zoom meetings here.

We are also running workshops on Walking, Cycling and Active Travel and Liveability, Health and Open Spaces. Please do let us know if you would also like to attend either of these.

These workshops will provide us with a deeper understanding about issues and opportunities relating to the site itself and how it relates to the wider neighbourhood and beyond. As such, we would greatly appreciate your insights. All workshops will be recorded and uploaded to our website if you are unable to participate in the live session.

If you would like to attend any of the above sessions, please RSVP to info@devonshiregardenscambridge.com and we will send you a welcome pack with more details. Alternatively, if you would prefer to discuss the scope of these sessions over the phone, we would be happy to arrange a convenient time to speak with you.

In addition, if you would like to be put in touch with a particular member of the project team regarding our proposals for the site, please mention your interest within your RSVP and we will contact you to arrange a conversation.

In the meantime, if you have any questions specifically relating to our upcoming consultation, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,

Douglas Higgins, Project Director at First Base


Liam Ronan‑Chlond​, Stakeholder & External Relations at First Base adds:

In addition, you may be interested to know that we are also researching the current Mill Road offer to better understand the local character, in a short exploratory survey here.


Further indicative sketches and details of First Base’s aspirations for the Development can be found here, on the First Base website.


Whilst this blogpost is open for (polite) comments, please note that these will not form part of First Base’s consultation, nor will the Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire Joint Planning Service be able to take into account any views expressed here, when a planning application is, eventually, submitted.

REMEMBRANCE DAY

By Helen Weinstein | 11th November 2020

At a time when it is not possible for large gatherings for Remembrance Day because of the pandemic, there are other ways for those living and working around Mill Road to connect and share the memories of how our area experienced wars, past and present.

MARKING 75 YEARS SINCE WORLD WAR II

Helen Weinstein, community historian, is sharing a film with Mill Road Bridges when we are marking with commemorative events this year the significance of 75 years since the end of World War Two. The film takes you on local tour where Helen shows how the residents living around Mill Road experienced bombing in the 1940s.

Vicarage Terrace Bombing – Courtesy of Cambridgeshire Collection, Central Library

HistoryWorks has produced a short film to share because (due to the Covid-19 restrictions) all talks & history tours have had to be online. VE Day season and Remembrance Day week in Cambridge has therefore seen Helen Weinstein asked to give talks marking 75 years since the end of World War II sharing research, talks, and a walking tour film.

Gwydir Street VE Day Party – Courtesy of the Cambridgeshire Collection, Central Library

The film below, presented and produced by Helen Weinstein, tells the story of how Cambridge experienced the bombing raids in World War 2, showing it is a myth that Cambridge was not impacted because there were 50 homes destroyed, 2000 homes damaged, and many deaths and casualties.  The film shows how the residents and businesses near the railway line were impacted. 

Click to watch the World War 2 History Tour of the Mill Road area

The focus of the history trail film is to visit sites in the area known locally as Sturton Town, linking the Mill Road Railway Bridge to East Road and Newmarket Road. The tour includes the location of the air-raid shelter on Gwydir Street, the bombing of Vicarage Terrace on the night of June 18th 1940, and the Mill Road Bridge bombing on 30th January 1941, taking in the VE day street parties which took place 75 years ago. Helen shares letters, newspaper accounts and eye witness memories of civilian experiences from 1940s Cambridge.


GRAVES OF COMMONWEALTH SOLDIERS 

Also recommended, is a visit to Mill Road Cemetery as a place for remembering the dead in peaceful surroundings, in a haven for wildlife and for quiet contemplation . There are many burials of the fallen soldiers in the cemetery.  

The CommonWealth War Graves Commission maintain the graves of 33 Commonwealth service personnel from World War I and four from World War II.

Mill Road Cemetery has a graves database with information provided by Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Family History Society, with further research by the Cemetery History Group. See the links below.

For each grave it is possible to click to show the location within the cemetery.

Betty Morgan 1928-2020

By Jonathan Wilson

Mother of champion weightlifters, short in stature: big in personality

The lights of Mill Road gleam a little less brightly tonight after the death of Bessie “Betty” Morgan at the age of 92, one of the oldest residents in the area. 

Betty, who came from the well-known Silverman family, lived in Perowne Street for 68 years, setting up home there in 1952. She was a well known figure in the area, a familiar face in many of the shops and cafés until moving into the St Georges Court care home earlier this year. She died in October after developing pneumonia.

One of eight children, Betty was born in the city on 12 July 1928, to Samuel and May Silverman. Her late brother Charlie established the Silverman’s Office Furniture company, which still trades in the city while sister Doreen, aged 94, still lives in Fen Ditton.

In 1952, Betty married Ken, who worked as a carpenter for British Rail, and gave birth to two sons, David in 1964 and Tony in 1969. 

Although a mere 4ft 7inches tall, what Betty lacked in height she more than made up for with her big personality and strong work ethic. And it was as a mother that Betty thrived, showing extraordinary devotion and commitment to support “her boys” in their sporting careers. Both excelled in weightlifting and Betty was determined that each would achieve his potential. She supported them at events but beyond that normal parental help, she offered crucial financial help at one point working three separate jobs so that David and Tony could have the time to train when financial support for top athletes was not available.

David Morgan inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame, 2013. From left: Welsh weightlifter Daruis Jokarzadeh (6′ 9″) bronze medal in junior world championships; Welsh long jumper Lyn Davies, 1964 Olympic gold medal; David Morgan and mother Betty. Photo courtesy Jonathan Wilson.

And that devotion and commitment paid off: Tony became the youngest British senior champion at age 15, completed in the 1992 Olympics and then won a bronze in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. 

David twice came fourth in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles (1984) and four years later in Seoul. And is the only athlete ever to win gold at five different Commonwealth games. He competed in three Olympic Games, won various world championships and broke multiple world records. His sporting achievements culminated in the award of the MBE in this year’s New Year’s Honours list. And Betty could not have been more proud when David told her the news.

But David and Betty’s trip to Buckingham Palace in June was, of course, cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Betty with son David. Photo Jonathan Wilson

Sadly husband Ken died in 1994 of leukaemia, aged 69, but he lived long enough to see many of the successes of his sons.

In later life, Betty loved dressing in bright colours and always wore high-heeled boots.

In April 2004, Betty decided to slim-down her wardrobe. A neighbour, jokingly printed a sign.

She enjoyed her garden, butterflies and flowers, the Cambridge Botanic Gardens being one of her favourite haunts. Betty was also a proud grandmother to Tony’s children, Katie and Tom.

Betty with (L-R) Perowne Street neighbour Monica Smith, granddaughter Katie and son Tony enjoying the Perowne Street party in 2009

Betty loved the Perowne Street/Emery Street residents’ street parties. She regularly had breakfast at the Salvation Army, lunch at Ditchburn Place and afternoon tea in the Grafton Centre or elsewhere in the city centre.  

Betty’s funeral will be held at Cambridge Crematorium (West Chapel) on Wednesday 11th November 2020, at 2pm but, but given Covid restrictions, attendance will be strictly limited to family and close friends. For further information, please contact Rosalind or David Morgan on 07813 592479 or 01223 562595.

David and Tony intend to host a more fitting event to celebrate their mother’s life once the Covid pandemic has passed – hopefully an all-singing-all-dancing street party in Perowne Street – and are planning to adopt a bench in her honour in the Botanic Gardens. 


This post was amended on Monday 2nd November to correct the title to 1928-2020.


Local poet and neighbour, Carol Ann Wood, has written a poem to celebrate Betty Morgan’s life in Perowne Street.

Click the image to view/download a printable PDF of this poem.

National Pavement Parking Ban?

Government Consultation – Have Your Say

Mill Road Bridges welcomes this consultation, which follows years of campaigning, nationally and locally. Parliamentarians of all parties, on the Transport Committee, including Cambridge’s MP, Daniel Zeichner, have been looking at this problem for some time. This could herald major improvements to shopping along Mill Road.

Now you can have your say in HM Government’s consultation on dealing with pavement parking, run by the Department for Transport (DfT).

We are not the only group in Cambridge to welcome this consultation. Cambridge Cycling Campaign (CamCycle) posted…

We very much welcome the government’s consultation on dealing with pavement parking. This is the culmination of many years of campaigning by national transport groups and disability groups, as well as local campaigning by us and others.

Parking of cars on pavements is a scourge which can be seen all around the city. It makes it difficult for people walking, using buggies, using wheelchairs and mobility scooters, and people with visual impairments. It damages pavements, and in general treats other road users with a lack of courtesy. It causes injuries and deaths of people walking, particularly children, as a result of drivers trying to park their cars on the pavement.

CamCycle:  Pavement parking needs to stop – and government is finally consulting on it

Many national and regional newspapers carried this Press Association report, pointing out…

Disabled people and parents are particularly affected by parked cars blocking their way

Recent research from charity Guide Dogs indicated that 32% of people with visual impairments and 48% of wheelchair users are less keen to go out on their own because of antisocial pavement parking.

PA Media in The Guardian (Click to read the full article, on the Guardian website.)
Taxi on Mill Road pavement
Taxi on Mill Road pavement

New research by Guide Dogs shows the wide variety of people affected by pavement parking, and the everyday impact it has on their lives. Nine in ten disabled people, including those with sight loss, mobility scooter users, and parents or carers with children said they had been affected by pavement parking. 

Guide Dogs (Read their full blogpost here.)

Read/download Guide Dogs’ full report Blocked in: the impact of pavement parking – February 2020 (PDF) here.


How did it get like this?

Many towns and cities were not designed to accommodate today’s high traffic levels; and at some locations, especially in residential areas with narrow roads and no driveways, the pavement is the only place to park without obstructing the carriageway. However, irrespective of whether pavement parking is deemed necessary, there are inherent dangers for all pedestrians; being forced onto the carriageway and into the flow of traffic. This is particularly difficult for people with sight or mobility impairments, and those with prams or buggies. While resulting damage to the pavement and verges is uppermost, a trip hazard, maintenance and personal injury claims are also a cost to local authorities.

Dft: Pavement parking – Options for Change

But Mill Road’s pavements are wide, in places…

Whilst some sections of Mill Road’s pavements look wide, a large part of what you think is the pavement may be the shops’ forecourt, which they can use for outdoor stalls, seating or displays.

Businesses are allowed to use the forecourt area for sales, displays or seating

When cars, vans and lorries pull onto the pavement, it leaves little room for people to walk past. It’s even harder if you’re pushing a child’s buggy, or using a wheelchair. And should you have to pull your toddler out of the way of somebody’s car?


But isn’t pavement parking already illegal?

Since 1974, parking on pavements, with certain exceptions, has been prohibited in Greater London… [with] Exemptions at specific locations … indicated by traffic signs… The reverse applies elsewhere in England, where parking on pavements and verges is permitted unless specifically prohibited by a … Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). The DfT is currently … looking at how … to make TROs easier to implement, including for pavement parking.

Dft: Pavement parking – Options for Change

What about ‘obstructing the highway’?

The offence of unnecessary obstruction of the highway, which includes the road as well as the pavement … allow[s] proceedings to be brought by the police … where parking on the pavement, in such a way as to cause obstruction, is … avoidable.

Dft: Pavement parking – Options for Change

Understandably, CamCycle complain that “The police have failed to take action to address pavement parking,” however, as has been pointed out elsewhere on this website

Cambridgeshire County Council have had powers to deal with this for over nine years.

Councils with civil parking enforcement powers (including Cambridgeshire County Council) were given ‘special authorisation’ in February 2011 by the (then) Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Norman Baker, to prohibit parking on footways and verges, wherever they considered it necessary. This would be through a traffic regulation order (TRO, or ETRO).

Protecting Pedestrian Space on Mill-Road.com (Click to read the full opinion-piece.)

Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 allows most types of parking contraventions to be enforced by local authorities [in our case Cambridgeshire County Council – Ed] as a civil matter, instead of as a criminal matter by the police. enforcement ceases to be the responsibility of the police and becomes the responsibility of the local authority…

Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs)… place Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) on offending vehicles [and] the local authority retains the proceeds from the penalty charges, which are used to finance the enforcement…* Any surpluses must be used for prescribed purposes only.

Dft: Pavement parking – Options for Change

* This means that enforcement would not increase council tax, and may even help fill a few of our notorious potholes.


What are the options?

The DfT outlines three options:

  1. rely on improvements to the existing TRO system
  2. allow local authorities to enforce ‘Unnecessary obstruction of the pavement’
  3. a national pavement parking prohibition

Read what the DfT says about these options, in full, here.

Which option is best?

  1. ❌ Cambridgeshire County Council would be under no obligation to do anything. The County have had powers to use TROs to deal with pavement parking for over nine years – powers they have not used, despite there being no cost to council tax payers. Option 1 would, effectively, mean no change to having to dodge cars, taxis, vans and lorries on Mill Road’s pavements.
  2. ❌ The same issues apply. Option 2 is simply an extension to the powers which Cambridgeshire County Council have been ignoring for nearly a decade. Would anything change?
  3. ✅ The effect of a national pavement parking prohibition would be to reverse the current situation. Cambridgeshire County Council would be obliged to enforce the ban, and would also have to decide where to allow pavement parking. (And, if drivers ignore the ban, the PCN revenue may even help to fill a few potholes.)

We can see why CamCycle write…

We encourage residents to respond positively to the government’s consultation and to support option 3 … In the meanwhile, we continue to ask why the police are not doing more to keep pavements clear for pedestrians.

CamCycle

But what about Romsey’s side streets?

Nothing would change about the parking arrangements along the narrow sections of (eg) Cockburn Street, Thoday Street and Catharine Street, unless residents asked for change.

Local authorities would be expected to decide where pavement parking remained necessary and to introduce the necessary exemptions and to place traffic signs and bay markings to indicate where pavement parking is permitted. The bay could be placed completely on the pavement where there is sufficient width, or part on / part off.

Dft: Pavement parking – Options for Change

What would change, is that it would become unlawful to pull any vehicle onto any of Mill Road’s pavements – and the same across the whole of Cambridge – except for specific exemptions. These would include:

  • fire brigade purposes
  • police purposes
  • ambulance purposes
  • delivery, collection, loading or unloading of goods to, or from any premises, in the course of business; where this cannot reasonably be carried out without the vehicle being parked on a pavement

Read the full list of exemptions on the DfT’s Pavement parking: options for change webpage, here.


Now complete your response

You can:
Respond online here
or
download a response form to email to Pavement.parking@dft.gov.uk
or
print out the response form to post to
Keith Hughes
Pavement Parking Consultation
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
LONDON
SW1P 4DR

If this all seems very complicated take a look at the Dft’s Easy read: parking on the pavement questionnaire.


If you would like to see a full list of consultation questions before you respond, click here. Note: this is not the response form.


You are welcome to leave (polite) comments below, to engage with the local community, but these will not be seen by the DfT or become part of the consultation.


Thank you, ‘Kate’!

Tracey has contacted us with this heartwarming story…

I’m looking to find a lady who helped me during a crisis so I can thank her and I’m hoping you can help.

About 10am on Friday 11th September, I became ill on Mill Road near the disused Micky Flynn building. A lady who I had never met before drove me to A&E at Addenbrooke’s but I was in such a lot of pain that I didn’t think to ask for her contact details.

I think she said her name was Kate (but I might be wrong), I think she was probably in her 40s (again, I might be wrong), she went to fetch her car so must live in the Petersfield area*. She drives a small silver car.

*It may have been parked in Gwydir Street car park.
– Web Editor

I know that’s not an awful lot of information to go on but I wondered if you could publish this, in the hope that someone will know who she is, so I can thank her for her help.

Kind regards,
Tracey.

Are you ‘Kate’? Do you know ‘Kate’? If so, please click here to get in touch with us by email, so we can put you in touch with Tracey.

Energy saving offer for Cambridgeshire residents

We reproduce the Cambridgeshire County Council press release in full, and thank Petersfield County Cllr Linda Jones for alerting us to this scheme.

It sounds as if it’s ideal for Mill Road’s ‘Community of Communities’.

Click on the image to visit the Solar Together page for Cambridgeshire

Households across Cambridgeshire will soon have the opportunity to club together to buy and install solar panels at a reduced price.

The County Council and District Councils have joined forces with Solar Together as part of the initiative to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

From 1 September households and small and medium-sized enterprises can register for free and without obligation for the group-buying scheme, by visiting www.solartogether.co.uk/cambridgeshire When they register online for their complete solar PV system, applicants will be asked questions about their house, roof, and electricity usage.

The County Council will then arrange an auction with pre-vetted installers on 6 October. The auction is a reverse auction, meaning the lowest bid wins. The winning bid sets the price for all solar systems and battery systems. All installers are pre-vetted and must comply with certain criteria to guarantee the quality of the offer.

After the auction applications will receive a personal recommendation based on their registration details. They then have six weeks to decide if they want to take up the recommendation and proceed with an installation.

Solar panels turn sunlight into electricity. In order to use this energy, the panels mounted on a roof need to be connected to an inverter using cables. The Solar Together offer is for a complete service, including all equipment, survey, installation, monitoring and warranties. Afterwards households or businesses will automatically generate their own electricity from the panels on their roof.

Households that already have solar panels installed can also register to have battery storage added to their ex­isting solar panels to maximise the benefits of their system.

Cambridgeshire County Council press release

I wholeheartedly support this excellent initiative. Solar panels are a sound investment. Households will be saving money on their electricity bills, as well as helping to reduce CO₂ emissions and support a sustainable future through increased generation of renewable energy.

Cllr Josh Schumann, Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee

Time for a Mill Road Plan?

Cambridge is renowned for quality architecture and open spaces. But are we seeing this on Mill Road’? Two recent planning applications — Mickey Flynn’s site in Petersfield and The Labour Club in Romsey — both support the claim that buildings are being parachuted into the street scene without respect for the surrounding area.

Mickey Flynn’s

Recently submitted plans for this site have failed to respect the City Council’s advice that new developments should ‘Maximise the unique characteristics of the site to create a sense of identity’ and ‘Make a positive contribution to the character of the surrounding area’ (Design Guide. 2011). This site could and should be designed to enhance the surrounding area (perhaps opening onto a pavement café), but the plans only made a nod towards this option. The new proposed development rises above the pavement, while the building line comes forward towards Mill Road, reducing the existing welcome sense of space for pedestrians.

Development of this site is a one-off chance to enhance this area, bordered by one of Mill Road ’s distinctive historic buildings — the Bath House. The plans fail to recognise or add to the partial improvements made 15 years ago. These established a base-line by using high quality materials — recycled granite bollards; a special lamp column; Judas Tree; ground cover planting; and underground soakaway. The redevelopment of this former snooker hall should be the completion of this scheme — creating a ‘public square’ in Petersfield and bringing the ‘Cambridge’ quality into Mill Road. Revised plans awaited.

Romsey Labour Club

Over the bridge, plans have now sadly been approved by the City Council for the redevelopment of a piece of local social history — the Romsey Labour Club. Although ‘retaining’ the original facade, the old building will be dwarfed by a block of student flats. This mockery of the historic frontage reduces the important story that it tells about Romsey and is unsympathetic to the Conservation Area. The inappropriate use of materials shout at pedestrians, while the height will block out light from the surrounding streets.

Mill Road is at the centre of a Conservation area. No other arterial road in the city has this designation. The road’s history is central to the story of Cambridge. It is a ‘High Street’ in its own right. It serves the population of a small town in the surrounding catchment area, with the highest pedestrian footfall of any main road outside the city centre, but the City Council has no ‘Plan’ for Mill Road.

Developers exhaust planning officers and residents by first submitting applications that ignore planning guidance. They then return with plans that are marginally improved, and which are accepted. Too often plans lack aspiration and fail to reflect local knowledge. But what is built will be here for 100 years, and it is important that it is not ‘just good enough’, but ‘the best’. So, is it time to have a ‘Mill Road Plan’?

Allan Brigham

Allan Brigham