Update July 2017:Note change of venue and timing. A public exhibition of plans for the site will be held on Wednesday 19 July, 3–8pm at Bharat Bhavan (formerly Mill Road Library).
The council depot on the north side of Mill Road, west of the railway line is due to be redeveloped for housing. The developer will be Cambridge Investment Partnership, a joint venture between Cambridge City Council and Hill, a commercial housebuilder.
There is much to be commended about the SPD, but it seems that few of the issues raised in earlier consultations have been taken aboard (e.g. with regards to joining up the green spaces, being zero car, removing or relocating the garages (e.g. underground), sustainability (e.g. energy production and water conservation), and integrating the Chisholm Trail cycle route).
There is a desperate need in Petersfield for accessible, usable green space. The SPD reserves quite a lot of land for green space, but it’s not as accessible to the wider community as it needs to be (think of the underused Ravensworth Gardens pocket park). If more of the open space at the depot were joined up, visible and easily accessed from Mill Road, it would see more use – day-to-day and for community events.
The outline planning consent for what was originally planned for B1 & B2 was to be four stories high. What has been built is, in effect, seven stories high. B2 will be still taller.
19.3m + 1.6m plant area
Block F2 (station end)
(inc 2.8m top floor set back)
Block F2 (middle section)
(inc 2.8m top floor set back)
(Ravensworth Gardens end)
10.5m + 1.7m plant area
The distance between the middle section of F2 and main building line of Ravensworth Gardens is 16m on upper floors and 12.3m at ground floor. The gable end of Ravensworth Gardens is 4.6m away from the northern section of F2.
The distance between B2 and F2 is 15.1m, which comprises 6m for the road, 4.8m pavement in front of F2, and 4.3m in front of B2. At the southern end, a loading bay will reduce the pavement width outside F2. There are no parking bays.
By comparison the distance between the buildings on Great Northern Way at ground level is 16m and 13.3m on upper floors. The road width is 5.5m.
The Chisholm Trail cycle/walking route will pass between blocks B2 and F2, and across the station square. According to Bidwells, “the Station Square has been designed as a ‘shared surface’ and cyclist will be able to cycle across this space.”
Discussions are still ongoing about where over-ranked taxis and rail-replacement buses will queue. Currently they use the car park, but this will not be possible once Blocks B2 and F2 are built.
Brookgate are proposing that, during construction of blocks B2 and F2, access to the car park (the 200 spaces north of Carter Bridge) will be from Devonshire Road.
We are deeply concerned that Brookgate has already pushed the envelope on what they have built to date, adding floors and mass to create what most people are describing as ugly, characterless blocks.
We need to call a Development Control Forum to gain an opportunity to present our case to the planning committee before they decide on the application, which is likely to be submitted in early January 2017. Please get in touch if you can help organise this (collecting a petition and making a presentation).
Please use the comment box at the bottom of the page to submit additional concerns.
References in brackets are to paragraphs of the officer’s report on the original outline planning application.
Height and mass of buildings
B2 and F2 are too tall and massive, far beyond what was proposed at outline planning.
The original multi-storey car park building (B1) was meant to have a maximum height of 18m (8.277), but what is proposed is 19.3m excluding plant, and 20.9m including.
The outline planning consent refers to F2 being up to three storeys high, 15m at the southern end and 9m adjacent to Ravensworth Gardens (8.271 & 8.277). The officer was hesitant to support an application for a building even as tall as three storeys (8.466), yet what is proposed is effectively 4½ to 6½ storeys, with a height ranging from 10.5m (plus 1.7m of plant) to 19.3m.
F2 will overlook and overshadow Ravensworth Gardens to an unacceptable extent.
F2 and B2 will loom large over the modestly-sized buildings on the corner of Devonshire Road.
The buildings’ design lacks character and sense of place (‘a piece of Croydon in Cambridge’).
Alongside the access path from Devonshire Road there used to be a row of mature hornbeams. These were all removed to widen the path. The plans show just one tree being planted here. Reinstatement of a screen of trees is greatly needed to reduce the visual impact of the car park, bridge and buildings beyond.
The original officer’s report indicated that F2 would be set back from the road by 5m (8.288). What is proposed is a 4.8m setback, reduced for a considerable stretch by the inclusion of a loading bay (the need for which is not disputed).
With all car traffic being funnelled along one road, it will be much more difficult for people walking and cycling to cross the road. The artist’s impressions show no cars, yet there will be in the region of 1,000 vehicle movements every day, with high peak flows.
Greater segregation between motor vehicles and people cycling is desirable for the safety of the many people expected to use the Chisholm Trail to travel to and from the station, Addenbrooke’s and Trumpington.
Where will over-ranked taxis and rail-replacement buses queue?
The new cycle park will inevitably reach its capacity (just over 2,800 spaces) within the next few years (it is estimate to be running at about two thirds of capacity now). Where will people park cycles then? It is imperative that the station area is future-proofed with space allocated for more cycle parking when needed, ideally as an extension of the existing cycle parking building (which the open-sided design allows).
There is a great need for an all-day short-term cycle hire facility for visitors arriving at the station. Currently there is nowhere planned to accommodate this.
Accessing the car park from Devonshire Road during construction is completely unacceptable. The corner of Devonshire Road is already an unsafe crossing point without the additional conflict created by vehicles entering and leaving. Devonshire Road is not wide enough for two cars to pass, and therefore will not be able to take the extra traffic flow, leading to gridlock.
Section 106 obligations
More homes will place an additional burden on local GP surgeries, schools and roads. How is this being accommodated?
No new public green space or other amenity is being provided, even though Petersfield ward is severely deficient in these respects.
If you have questions about the plans, please contact Laura Fisher at Bidwells (01223 559546). If you have any questions about the comments on the plans please contact Sarah Dyer (01223 457153), the lead planning officer for this development .
Brookgate have indicated that the two buildings originally planned for the north side of the cycle/footbridge (G1 and G2) will not be built if B2 and F2 go ahead.
The Planning Committee gave consent on 3 June 2015 for a new cycle link path to be built through the ‘green’ space alongside the Carter Bridge ramp. This entailed the loss of all but two of the pine trees, which have been replaced by semi-mature trees (about which we were not consulted). Thanks to Cllr Richard Robertson for pursuing this and speaking on our behalf at the planning meeting, though ultimately it was to no avail: council officers believed this was the only viable option, despite obvious flaws and local opposition. Planning application: 13/1041/S73.
The contact at Brookgate to call if you have a question or concern is Alan Barrett, Project Manager, on 01223 465762.
Update July 2017: Development is likely to start this year. Travis Perkins have started work on their new site on Kilmaine Close (off Kings Hedges Road), which will complement the reduced site on Devonshire Rd.
Planning consent has been granted (as of 31 March 2015) for Travis Perkins to redevelop their site on Devonshire Road: houses and flats will be built on the southern half of the site, with a new access road; Travis Perkins will retain the northern half, which will be reconfigured with a new shed.
Planners overruled our manifold concerns, including that:
the developers intend to fell all of the trees that border Devonshire Road (they will be replaced with much smaller specimens);
the car park for the builders’ yard is too small, and is likely to result in additional congestion on Devonshire Rd and Mill Rd;
the design of the housing is uninspiring and includes no affordable units;
the ‘pocket park’ will not really benefit the local community.
Although Travis Perkins ideally want to relocate to a new site, leaving the existing site to be redeveloped entirely as housing (which residents would also much prefer), they have been unable to identify a suitable site in Cambridge.
One piece of good news is that Travis Perkins has transferred ownership of a small piece of land to the County Council, which will enable a section of the Chisholm Trail to be created: this dedicated cycle/pedestrian link will run from the station car park, alongside the railway, under the Mill Road bridge, to the north side of Mill Road (and, later, to Hooper Street).
Another benefit will be that the pavement running alongside the Travis Perkins site will be widened.