New buildings on station car park
Update 2 August 2018: Revised plans have been shared in advance of a planning application being submitted imminently:
Brookgate are preparing to submit a new planning application in early 2018 for an ‘Aparthotel’ above a multi-storey car park plus a business centre:
- Block B2: multi-storey car park (210 spaces over three split-level floors) plus four floors of apartment hotel suites, alongside the Ibis hotel and cycle park (B1).
- Block F2: business centre and railway staff offices, 3 and 5 storeys high, backing onto Ravensworth Gardens.
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 will 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 August 2018. Please get in touch if you can help organise this (collecting a petition and making a presentation).
Associated with this development is also a plan to reopen access to the station pick-up/drop-off area from Station Rd:
If you have questions about the plans, please contact Anthony Child at Bidwells (01223 559323). If you have any questions about the comments on the plans please contact Eileen Paterson (01223 457153), the lead planning officer for this development. There is a website with contact details for all the buildings on the CB1 site: CB1 Community.
Our feedback to Brookgate
References in brackets are to paragraphs of the officer’s report on the original outline planning application.
Please use the comment box at the bottom of the page to submit additional concerns.
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 significantly higher (notice of exact heights still awaited).
- 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 three to five storeys high (11.9m to 18m, including 2m of plant, which will be clearly visible from Devonshire Rd).
- B2 extends far closer to Carter Bridge and Devonshire Mews than was agreed in the outline consent for block B1:
- F2 will overshadow Ravensworth Gardens to an unacceptable extent. The Ravensworth Gardens houses that back onto F2 are 14.35m away from a 9.9m facade. The house that sides onto F2 is just 4.5m away and will overshadow its windows and garden.
- The west-facing windows of F2 will overlook at least one of the gardens and rear rooms of the Ravensworth Gardens houses that back onto F2.
- F2 and B2 will loom large over the modestly-sized Victorian houses on the corner of Devonshire Road.
- The buildings’ design lacks the character and craft appropriate to this gateway to the station from a Conservation Area.
- The replacement of the zebra crossing at the corner of Station Rd outside the station entrance is not acceptable, especially for people with impaired vision and a range of neurlogical and mental health conditions. Note that the DfT withdrew Guidance Note LTN 1/11 on shared space on 8 August following concerns raised by the House of Commons Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee.
- The replacement of the temporary light-controlled crossing of Station Rd south of the Tenison Rd junction with a raised table is also not acceptable, for the same reasons as the previous point.
- The design expects people cycling from the southern busway to turn right from Station Rd into the pick-up/drop-off area to reach the cycle park, Devonshire Rd and the Chisholm Trail. This is a particularly dangerous manoeuvre that even people who are confident cyclists will balk at.
- There is an alternative route past the station that is quieter and safer: it runs via Mill Park and behind One Station Square. For this to be attractive, the crossing of Station Rd needs to be properly designated as such, ideally combined with a light-controlled pedestrian crossing; and the link between the back of One Station Square and the station car park needs to be improved. Smarter Cambridge Transport has proposed creating a bi-directional cycle lane between these points, bypassing the mini roundabout. The next point justifies our support for the creation of this segregated cycle link. We understand that Brookgate are unwilling to adjust the design of F2 to accommodate it.
- Brookgate are proposing that all traffic to the pick-up/drop-off area will use Station Rd instead of Great Northern Rd. However there is a strong possibility that this will not work, and will create congestion that impedes buses running via Station Rd. Brookgate’s modelling does not prove otherwise. It may be necessary to re-route at least some traffic back to Great Northern Rd. It is essential that planners make allowance for this.
- Up to 39 taxis have been counted in the rank and queuing through the station car park. This implies that up to 25 will need to over-rank in Station Rd. This will make the road more hazardous than it is now for people who cycle down it to access the station, especially at the point where over-ranked taxis merge with the main traffic flow before the entrance to the pick-up/drop-off area.
- It should be the city’s ambition to have mandatory cycle lanes down Station Rd to make cycling a safe and attractive way to access the station. A taxi feeder rank will make this impossible.
- We understand that rail-replacement buses will use the bus stops in Station Place rather than the station car park. Is there sufficient space for the maximum number of buses that will need to be accommodated? Having buses queuing in Station Rd or double-parking in Station Place will create dangerous disruption to traffic flows.
Access from Devonshire Rd
- The junction between the car park access Rd and the cycle/footway from Devonshire Rd could be conflicted at peak times, with cyclists approaching from Devonshire Rd having to wait for a gap in the vehicle traffic to the car park. As people walking and cycling constitute a majority of the movements at this location, they should have clear priority.
- It is unclear whether the narrowing of the car park access road to a single lane at this junction is a safe arrangement. It is highly likely that motor vehicles will drive over the footway. (See point 1 under Station Road above about ‘shared space’.)
- The footway around the corner of the multi-storey car park is too narrow for those people who will be walking between the surface car park and the station entrance.
- The lack of segregation between motor vehicles, cycles and pedestrians is a poor design compromise for such a busy route, which will only become more so over time – especially when the Chisholm Trail opens. Large numbers of people in a rush do not mix well (see also below about guidance on ‘shared space’).
- The main pedestrian desire line will now be on the western side of the car park access road. This will require greatly improved crossings at the mini roundabout at the bottom of Great Northern Rd, both to the south side of Great Northern Rd and to the east side of the car park access road. These should be zebra crossings, giving pedestrians legal priority.
- Accessing the car park from Devonshire Road during construction is completely unacceptable. The corner of Devonshire Road is already an unsafe crossing point, with poor sight lines. Having vehicles entering and leaving the car park will create additional conflicts. Devonshire Road is not wide enough for two cars to pass, yet alone 2.55m HGVs delivering to Travis Perkins. The road is occasionally gridlocked now, requiring vehicles to mount the footway to pass. This will happen more frequently, endangering people walking and cycling, and damaging the footway.
- Greater Anglia has a franchise commitment to provide an additional 1,000 cycle parking spaces at the station by the end of 2020. Where will these go?
- If the intention is to convert some of the multi-storey car parking spaces to cycle parking, this will need to happen very shortly after the car park opens (unlikely to be before 2020). Where will the cycle entrance be located?
- The new cycle parking spaces should be contained in an extension of the existing cycle parking building (which the open-sided design allows), using the same entrance (but with a cleared walkway between the top of the first ramp and the second). If there are two separate buildings with separate entrances, how long will it take someone to find a space if the first building they try is full?
- Even 3,850 cycle parking spaces (existing 2,850 plus 1,000 extra) will not suffice for very many years. Utrecht (population approximately double Cambridge’s) now has 12,500 cycle parking spaces at its railway station. It is imperative that the station area is future-proofed with space allocated in anticipation of need, especially for ‘off gauge’ cycles (trikes, cargo bikes, hand cycles, trailers, etc, which are all becoming more commonplace) and bikes requiring greater security (e.g. e-bikes).
- Not planning for additional cycle parking at this stage will not only waste money, but will lead to severely compromised provision for cyclists in future.
- Why preserve 450 car parking spaces at enormous cost when the strategies of the City Council, County Council, Greater Cambridge Partnership and Combined Authority all include enabling and encouraging modal shift away from driving and parking within the city? With Cambridge North now open, Cambridge South being planned, and Trumpington P&R being just 9 minutes away by bus, what need is there to keep anywhere near as many as 450 car parking spaces? If point 16 above is correct and parking spaces may be converted to cycle parking in 2020, why not now?
- 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 two trees and low-level planting here. Reinstatement of a screen of trees and other plants is needed to reduce the visual impact of the car park, bridge and buildings beyond.
Public green space
- No new public green space is being provided, even though Petersfield ward is severely deficient in this.
Alternative building uses
- Once it is accepted that a multi-storey car park is not required, B2 could have an attractive active frontage along the whole of two sides. Retail and other businesses, including for instance Regus-type meeting rooms, would be far more welcome to local residents and most station users than a car park.
- Although Greater Anglia based their franchise bid on parking revenues from 450 spaces, that revenue could be replaced by office or retail rental income.
The outline planning consent for what was originally planned for B1 & B2 was to be four storeys high. What has been built is, in effect, seven storeys high. B2 will be taller still.
|Building heights||Outline consent||Proposed in previous plans
|Block B2||18m max||18.9m + 2.3m plant area|
|15m max||16m + 2m plant area|
(Ravensworth Gardens end)
|9m max||9.9m + 2m plant area|
The distance between of F2 and main building line of Ravensworth Gardens is 13.35m. The gable end of Ravensworth Gardens is 4.5m away from the northern section of F2.
- The usable pavement in front of F2 is 3.1m wide, reducing to 2.1m alongside the loading bay.
- 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 (which is a ‘shared surface’).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.
Previous proposals now superseded
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.