Victory for Friends of St Matthew’s Piece

Image of planning proposal, with word refused superimposed
Celebratory poster. Email Friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com to request a copy of the poster to print out.

On Wednesday 24 March 2021, 10.00 am, deep in cyberspace, Super Matt the super squirrel defeated The Thing From Outer Space!

More prosaically Cambridge City Council’s planning committee held a virtual meeting, in which the application to build a block of student flats on St Matthew’s Piece by developers Federated Hermes was considered.

Planning Officers recommended refusal of the application, although there were certain aspects of the local plan and of planning considerations which the development would have satisfied. You can read/download the full officer report (PDF 3.3MB) here (pp187-240).

Of course Super Matt had help from all of the community and Friends of St Matthew’s Piece had massive support for their objection to these plans.

A shoutout to Val Neal who gave a good presentation at the online meeting!

Agnès Aubert, Sleaford Street, on Nextdoor

Would you be able to display Friends of St Matthew’s Piece’s new ‘Refused’ poster in your window?

If yes, please email Email Friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com to request a copy of the poster to print out. Or just smile and celebrate every time you pass one in the area! Thank you all for your crucial efforts to protect our park.

Of course, any further attempts from these (or any other) developers may emerge. The community would then choose its response.

Everyone’s support and active contributions to preserving, celebrating and protecting St Matthew’s Piece would be very welcome!

Val Neal, North Petersfield, on Nextdoor

As others have posted out, the developers could appeal or submit a modified proposal, so local residents will have to keep being vigilant.

What happens next?

The applicant now has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against our decision to refuse this application. The appeal must be lodged within 6 months of the date of this decision. In the event of an appeal being lodged, and if you have previously commented, we will notify you and forward any comments you may have made to the Planning Inspectorate.

The applicant also has the right to re-submit an amended scheme which may seek to overcome our reasons for refusal. We will notify you again if such an application is submitted.

Notification from Greater Cambridge Joint Planning to people who commented on the application

However, the redoubtable Roy Stamp strikes a positive note…

In Romsey Terrace, we found that fighting an appeal made residents more determined: the residents won in the end!

Roy Stamp, Romsey, on Nextdoor

It is difficult to second guess what this multi-national investment fund will do next.

It is possible that when they bought the site from Chard Robinson they were told, based on the previous scheme that was consulted on but was never actually submitted, that there was development potential.

At the planning committee their agent Bidwells claimed that pre application advice given by the planners at that time was positive, but this has little status as it is not binding on the Council. It is a very weak argument and I was surprised it was even mentioned.

The main problem, if they appeal, is the fairly new National Planning Policy Framework introduced by the LibDem Tory coalition government in 2012. This planning directive considerably weakened the power of local councils’ decision-making powers and introduced an overarching presumption in favour of development. It also gave more power to planning inspectors to award the applicants appeal costs adainst local councils.

This happened five years ago in Station Road where the City turned down plans for a massive office block. BrookGate won the appeal and the Council was forced to pay them £175,000. The reasons for refusal in this case by Cambridge City Council are, however, very robust and are taken from the approved local plan so we are in a strong position.

If Federated Hermes are realistic they will give up as, given the strength of feeling, the local Councillors will undoubtably put considerable funds into the defence of the Councils position at any appeal hearing.

Local activist and fount of knowledge on planning, Frank Gawthrop, South Petersfield, on Nextdoor

FORGE: pop-up exhibition

19th December 2020 – 8th February 2021

The Museum of Cambridge plays host to a multimedia exhibition inspired by the history of Ironworks

The FORGE exhibition presents a thought-provoking look and celebration of how the community has flourished through rediscovering and making new connections with local heritage, nature and traditions. FORGE will take you on a journey through the museum to explore artefacts from the past to the present-day. The display highlights how the revival and sharing of these traditions and crafts over the past year has given us hope and helped to inspire a kinder future.

Click the image to view/download a printable PDF of the poster

Inspired by the people and history of Sturton Town, Ironworks and Mill Road, FORGE has been conceived by Ironworks artist-in-residence Hilary Cox Condron and co-curated with community historian Helen Weinstein, local residents and The Museum of Cambridge.

Ironworks is a flagship development by Cambridge Investment Partnership, an equal partnership between Cambridge City Council and Hill Investment Partnerships.

Helen’s video Sturton Town in Victorian Times tells the story of how the neighbourhood was open fields up until September 1869 when it was sold to Joseph Sturton, a building developer. Click to view.

Click the image to view the video

Come along to the Museum of Cambridge between the 19th December 2020 and the 8th February 2021 and see the FORGE installations throughout the museum. The exhibitions and digital displays will shed new light on the former occupants of the homes around Ironworks and how the area’s past has informed the artworks that will feature within the public spaces being created as part of the new homes being built.

Throughout the exhibition will be a series of online events and workshops for audiences to delve a little deeper into some of the presentations, for a full list and up-to-date information please visit this link during the exhibition dates.

Opening Times
Thursdays to Saturdays 1pm – 5pm
1st Sunday of the month 12pm-4pm
There is no need to book your visit: tickets can be purchased at the Museum.

Holiday Opening Hours
The Museum will be closed for the bank holidays on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th December and Friday 1st January. The Museum has added an additional opening day on Wednesday 30th December 12pm-5pm.

Please note that a maximum of 18 visitors are allowed in the museum at any time and an entrance fee is payable. The date and duration of this exhibition are subject to HM Government’s covid-19 restrictions and the Museum of Cambridge‘s own risk mitigation policies. For up-to-date information and opening hours please visit the  Museum of Cambridge website (here) or phone 01223 355159.

The Museum of Cambridge is at 2-3 Castle Street, Cambridge CB3  0AQ.

FORGE forms part of the Resonance-Cambridge public art programme for the new homes being built by the Cambridge Investment Partnership.

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.

Wildflowers for St Matthew’s Piece

While many of us hit the shops for last-minute lockdown supplies this week, volunteers on St Matthew’s Piece were stocking the larder for insects.

Bees and other pollinating insects are essential to the life cycle of plants. But their numbers are plunging as the amount of open land dwindles and their sources of food disappear.

Volunteers from On the Verge Cambridge and Friends of St Matthew’s Piece came together on a sunny November morning to plant the Piece with hundreds of wildflower bulbs. On the Verge Cambridge works with schools and community groups to plant wildflowers in suitable spots, so insects don’t have to fly long distances in search of food.

Ben Greig and Jo Scrivens from On the Verge Cambridge, with volunteers from Friends of St Matthew’s Piece setting up their banners before planting wildflowers

The group planted anemones, bluebells, winter aconite, wild garlic, crocuses and snakeshead fritillaries, each in a different part of the park. When the flowers bloom, they will provide a rich supply of nectar.

Ben Greig from On the Verge Cambridge, planting wildflowers on ST Matthew’s Piece

St Matthews’ Piece is currently threatened by developers who wish to build a large block of flats on its northern edge.

Artist’s impression of the student flats hovering over the former Howard Mallett Centre like an alien spaceship

“It’s such a beautiful place, with all its stately trees – but developers want to cut some of them down,” said Janet Wright, of Friends of St Matthew’s Piece.

“So many people come here with their children or just to take a walk. From next year on, they’ll be spotting flashes of colour as various flowers start coming up. I just hope they won’t have a block of flats looming over them.”

“Quite a few people walking through the Piece were pleased that we were planting flowers and hoped the planned development wouldn’t be allowed.”


Friends of St Matthew’s Piece can be contacted by email at friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com or followed and liked (here) on Facebook.


Ben Greig and Jo Scrivens from On the Verge Cambridge

Find out more about On the Verge Cambridge, here, or email Ben Greig, Alice Willitts and Jo Scrivens by email at onthevergecambridge@gmail.com.

Under construction

Two major projects are currently under way in the Mill Road area – Maintenance and stabling sidings for Govia Thameslink Railways (with Trainwash facilities of huge concern to Great Eastern Street residents) and Ironworks, the former Mill Road Depot.

Mill Road Scenes
By Ed Jenkins
Cranes on the Former City Council Mill Road depôt and Ridgeon’s Cromwell Road Site developments in Petersfield and Romsey, respectively
‘Sentinels’ Over Petersfield!
A ‘Flock’ of Cranes’ Over The Bridge
Watching over Great Eastern Street!
Open Air Classroom On Site, North of Mill Road Bridge. Project Managers taking advantage of the good late Summer weather!
Cranes standing guard over the Bridge!

Peace campaigner now speaks up for the Piece

She defended her country in the Second World War — now Dorothy Runnicles is defending St Matthew’s Piece. 

By Janet Wright
for Friends of St Matthew’s Piece

Dorothy Runnicles

Developers who want to build a large block of student flats on the edge of this small but well-used Petersfield park slipped a consultation document out in April, while most people were preoccupied with lockdown.

“As a former local resident, now 95, I totally reject the proposed centre,” Dorothy wrote to developers Federated Hermes, along with more than 100 local residents who also sent in their objections. Though confined to her present home in Gloucester by the pandemic, she sent her support to Friends of St Matthew’s Piece.

After her wartime service in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, Dorothy became a pacifist, trained as a social worker and is still active in numerous community groups. In recent years she has advised the government, NHS and national charities on issues around inclusion and ageism. Due to represent the navy at the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Dorothy was instead phoned by the Princess Royal when all events were cancelled. 

A founder-member of Petersfield Area Community Trust, she has studied the results of increasing inequality, 20 years after a survey found that 10% of the Petersfield population lived below the poverty line. 

“The statement ‘We’re in it together’ has to be challenged,” Dorothy told Friends of St Matthew’s Piece. “The private business world is achieving what it wants. This area has a long history of continuous development, and of losing community assets.”

Petersfield, though densely populated, has less public open space than any other ward in Cambridge.

Artist’s impression of the student flats hovering over the former Howard Mallett Centre like an alien spaceship

“There are lots of people in Petersfield without gardens, some occupying one room in a house,” says Dorothy. “If people haven’t got gardens and haven’t got much money, they need free access to some open space. That’s being deliberately taken away from Petersfield.”

Click the image to learn about Super Matt’s campaign

The proposed student flats would be built above the former Howard Mallett youth centre – Dorothy notes that rates of youth offending increased after the centre was closed. Developers would also fell at least two of the mighty plane trees that are a feature of St Matthew’s Piece.

“Trees are extremely important,” says Dorothy. All the evidence shows there’s something important about the function of trees. Loss of trees is a health problem. Losing the big trees that are protecting our environment is extremely risky.”


Friends of St Matthew’s Piece can be contacted by email at friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com or followed and liked (here) on Facebook.


And see the Friends of St Matthew’s Piece campaign video…


Learn more about Dorothy on the National Development Team for Inclusion website, here.

Watch video recordings of Dorothy on Legasee – The Veterans Video Archive, here .


Join the Great British September Clean!

Keep Mill Road Tidy

Click the image to visit the national Great British September Clean website.

CAMBRIDGE City Council has pledged its support for this year’s re-organised Great British September Clean, run by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, which takes place from 11- 27 September.

To support this year’s campaign in Cambridge, the City Council will be inviting groups and individuals to get involved and help clear up litter from their local streets, parks and open spaces. The council will be providing litter pickers, hi-vis vests, gloves, and rubbish bags for all those who want to do their bit.

The council will also be leading a programme of organised clean up events throughout the city, over the two-week campaign period, working with community groups and individual volunteers.

Click the image to view/download the full Cambridge City Council press release
Organised local clean up events in the Mill Road area are:
  • Sunday 20 September, Mill Road Cemetery – meeting at the Mill Road entrance
  • Tuesday 22 September, Parker’s Piece – meeting at Hobbs Pavilion
  • Saturday 26 September, Romsey Recreation Ground – meeting at Vinery Road entrance

All events will start at 11am and run until 12 noon.

Click here to read/download details of schemes across the city.

Volunteers will be asked to separate the litter they pick into two bags: one for recycling and another for the rest of the rubbish. The City Council will then collect these bags to ensure that they are recycled appropriately.

If you want to get involved in any of the above events or to organise your own – either as part of the Great British September Clean campaign or at any other time of the year – please use this link to email the Cambridge City Council’s Streets and Open Spaces Community Engagement Team, phone 01223 458084 or visit the Cambridge City Council Volunteer litter picking webpage for more information.

In line with the Government’s Covid-19 safety guidelines, the number of individuals/households that can attend these events will be limited, social distancing will be observed and enhanced personal protective equipment and cleansing will be observed at organised events.


To find out more about how to report litter and what action the council can take see the City Council’s Request a litter pick webpage.


Related items from Cambridge City Council…

Super Matt says Save St Matthew’s Piece!

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece have a new supporter – Super Matt the Super Squirrel in their campaign to protect their small Petersfield park.

Super Matt the Super Squirrel says, "Help! It's landing on the Piece! Your park needs you!"
Click on Super Matt to visit his Facebook page

Developers want to build a block of student flats that will crouch over the former Howard Mallett Centre like a spaceship landing.

Image of the proposed development.

The campaign’s new character Super Matt the Super Squirrel lives in one of the trees that will be destroyed if the developers get their way. He is warning neighbours in Petersfield about the threat.

And he’s urging them to sign up for the Friends of St Matthew’s Piece supporters’ email list. This will help co-ordinate community action when the developers put in their planning application.

“We want our beautiful trees, not a hulking block of flats,” says Janet Wright, of Friends of St Matthew’s Piece.

“Petersfield has less public open space than any other part of Cambridge, and very few trees. We can’t afford to lose any.”

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece can be contacted by email at friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com or followed and liked on Facebook.


This post is open for (polite) comments.
But this is not an alternative way of contacting Friends of St Matthew’s Piece!


“These images are like a nightmare”

Image of the proposal from the developers’ website

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece say, “The building is completely out of scale with its surroundings and shows no respects for the local community”

A proposed building that would tower over a Cambridge park is far more intrusive than developers’ illustrations show, say campaigners.

It would dominate the entire area around St Matthew’s Piece and throw neighbouring houses into deep shadow, new 3D images demonstrate.

“These images are like a nightmare,” says Janet Wright, a supporter of Friends of St Matthew’s Piece. “You can see this monstrosity crouching on top of the existing building, overshadowing ordinary little houses and filling the view from the Piece.”

Architectural projections skilfully woven into a newly released video [above] reveal the proposed student housing block, more than 19 metres tall, looming over St Matthew’s Piece. Local campaigners have likened the building, intended to house more than 100 students, to a ‘spaceship’ or ‘monster’.

“The building is completely out of scale with its surroundings and shows no respects for the local community,” says a local resident who has contributed key architectural skills to the production of this dramatic video. 

The video was made for Friends of St Matthew’s Piece by Mill Road TV. It marks the 122nd anniversary of the day the park was given to local residents “for ever”. Friends of St Matthew’s Piece celebrated the anniversary (23 June) with a socially distanced gathering, while calling on other local residents to join them in protecting the Piece.

Developers Federated Hermes have not yet put in a formal planning application, but have circulated their proposals to hundreds of local residents.

Press release from Friends of St Matthew’s Piece dated 6th July 2020

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece can be contacted on Facebook, by email on Friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com, followed on Twitter or Instagram.


See also Mill Road Bridges’s posts Residents object to St Matthew’s Piece development and Protect St Matthew’s Piece.


This post is open for (polite) comments.


Protect St Matthew’s Piece

Glenys and Dave from Friends of St Matthew’s Piece hold a celebratory banner

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece write:

Today (23 June 2020) marks 122 years since St Matthew’s Piece was given to the people of Petersfield “for the recreation of the inhabitants for ever.

Now the tranquillity of the small park is under threat from developers who want to build a large block of student flats on the northern half of the original Piece.  

The pandemic means Friends of St Matthew’s Piece, who oppose the development, can’t throw an anniversary party. But a small group will gather (safely) at 3pm on 23 June to mark the day with decorations and readings.

St Matthew’s Piece was opened in 1898 specifically to provide healthy public open space in a very crowded part of Cambridge. It is needed more than ever now.

Janet Wright, FoSMP

Image of the proposal from the developers’ website

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece can be contacted on Facebook, by email on Friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com, followed on Twitter or Instagram.


See also Mill Road Bridges’s posts Residents object to St Matthew’s Piece development and “These images are like a nightmare“.