See proposals for the redevelopment of the Travis Perkins site on Devonshire Rd
Developers First Base have acquired the Travis Perkins site on Devonshire Rd and plan to redevelop it for mixed use:
“We envisage that our plans will consist of flexible workspace, homes, community spaces and new public gardens. This community will be car-free, include a dedicated cycle hub and create new pedestrian and cycle routes integrating with the Chisholm Trail.”
An initial consultation on the proposals runs from 30 November to 13 December 2020.
Update 16 October 2020: The planning committee voted 5–2 to refuse the planning application on the following grounds:
Brookgate has submitted a new planning application (reference 18/1678/FUL) 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.
A Development Control Forum is to be held on 16 January, where SoPRA, Camcycle and Great Northern Road RA will be challenging the planning application.
Associated with this development is also a plan to reopen access to the station pick-up/drop-off area from Station Rd:
The following diagram (rotated relative to the previous one) shows the expected movements through Station Square by each different transport mode. Note that only taxis licensed to use the station rank will use the access from Station Rd. All other taxis (mainly private hire) and private vehicles will continue to use Great Northern Road. It is difficult to predict how this will work in practice and how much relief it will provide to residents and other users of Great Northern 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 Toby Williams (01223 457200), the planning case 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 (21.2m inc 2.3m of plant).
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:
Brookgate are claiming that the enlarged footprint is compensated for by no longer bringing forward plans for buildings on the north side of the cycle/footbridge (G1 and G2). As this is a full, not a reserved matters, application, this is only relevant if Brookgate can demonstrate that the boundary of B1 in the outline plan was set back from the bridge because of its proximity to G1 and G2, not because of its proximity to the bridge and existing buildings.
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. These houses will lose their direct sunlight through their east-facing windows, and will lose most of their direct sunlight into their gardens.
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 loss 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 loss 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.
Brookgate want to encourage more people to walk along the south side of Station Rd, which will have a wider pavement and avoid the crossings at the pick-up/drop-off area access and Tenison Rd. However, the replacement of a zebra crossing at the corner with a courtesy crossing will not encourage people to cross there. Furthermore, there is no plan to improve the slow, three-stage crossing of Hills Rd:
The plan requires hackney taxis to over-rank in Station Rd in two designated zones. This will make Station Rd more polluted, and may make it more hazardous for people cycling towards the station.
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 disrupt local buses.
Great Northern Rd
As Brookgate are proposing that only CCLT-licensed hackneys will use the new Station Rd entrance/exit to the taxi rank, the large majority of traffic will continue to use Great Northern Rd to access the pick-up/drop-off area. This means that the mini roundabout and crossings at the bottom of Great Northern Rd will continue to be unpleasant for people walking and cycling to negotiate.
North–south cycle route
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.
The large number of conflicting movements of cars, buses, cycles and pedestrians around the corner of Station Rd serves nobody well and has echoes of the universally derided junction between Great Northern Rd and Tenison Rd.
There is a safer and quieter alternative cycle route past the station that 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. That will require removal of some of the taxi bays. The link between the back of One Station Square and the station car park also needs to be improved. Smarter Cambridge Transport has proposed creating a bi-directional cycle lane between these points, bypassing the mini roundabout. We understand that Brookgate are unwilling to adjust the design of F2 to accommodate it.
Cycle/foot 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 point 1 under Station Road above about ‘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 (Sainsbury’s) and to the east side of the car park access road (ibis hotel). These should be zebra crossings, giving pedestrians legal priority.
Temporary motor vehicle access from Devonshire Rd
Brookgate changed their plans so that construction traffic will instead use Great Northern Road.
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 2.5m wide HGVs delivering to Travis Perkins. Mott Macdonald’s technical drawings clearly indicate this limitation.
The road is occasionally gridlocked now, requiring vehicles to mount the footway to pass. Adding more traffic to it will ensure this happens more frequently, endangering people walking and cycling, and damaging the footway.
A particular problem will arise on Tuesday mornings, when the bin lorry travels down Devonshire Rd. Other vehicles cannot pass in either direction for most of the length of the road.
Greater Anglia successfully lobbied the Department for Transport to remove their franchise committment to deliver an additional 1,000 cycle parking spaces at Cambridge station by the end of 2020. This was a disgraceful failure of social responsibility and accountability.
Greater Anglia has a franchise commitment to provide an additional 1,000 cycle parking spaces at the station by the end of 2020. Greater Anglia confirmed again in September 2018 that they have formed no plan for where to locate these.
Brookgate have suggested that it would be possible to convert some of the multi-storey car parking spaces to cycle parking. That would need to happen very shortly after the car park opens (unlikely to be before 2020), and would need to be designed in from the outset (for instance, where would 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 cycling 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 2 under Cycle parking above is correct and parking spaces may be converted to cycle parking in 2020, why not now?
Parking capacity has already been reduced from the provision set out in the outline planning application, which was for 632 spaces for cars + 52 for motorcycles. What’s stopping a further reduction?
Public space and landscaping
The vision for Station Square as a space for people is utterly broken by these changes. The only visible green space will be the other side of a busy road from the entrances to the station, shops and many of the businesses around the square. People sitting at tables outside the Ibis hotel and Station Tavern are breathing in exhaust fumes from cars only a few metres away.
It would make much more sense to move the taxi rank and pick-up/drop-off area to where currently Murdoch House sits (i.e on the south side of Station Rd), and re-landscape the pick-up/drop-off area as a space for people. This is would create something comparable to the much-admired public space outside King’s Cross station and create an even more vibrant public space. It would also then be possible to create a safe cycle route across the square.
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.
Alternative building uses
If it were accepted that car parking provision could be reduced, and 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 much-needed 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 rental income from offices or shops.
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.
21.2m (inc 2.3m for plant)
Block F2 (station end)
18m (inc 2m for plant)
(Ravensworth Gardens end)
11.9m (inc 2m for plant)
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
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.
Update February 2018: The planning application (ref 17/2245/FUL) is in. The deadline for public comments is 14 February.
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 (CIP), a joint venture between Cambridge City Council and Hill, a commercial housebuilder.
There is great need for more open green space in Petersfield, but this development will deliver less than the draft Local Plan requirement. The application site area is given as 2.14ha and the required open space as 0.77ha (LP Policy 68), yet only 0.6ha is being provided. Much of that is the Chisholm Trail, which is in fact a tarmacked cycle/footway with just a 1m deep grass verge. This does not fit the description of ‘informal open space’, defined in the Local Plan as “recreation grounds, parks and natural greenspaces.”
The proposed provision of open green space is too fragmented for recreational use. With the exception of the playground for young children, the green space provides breathing space for residents, but nothing that could be used by older children (‘youth space’), to play informal sport or games; nor is it large enough for community events.
We also have a serious concern about the indicative footprint and orientation of the future building by Mill Rd. It leaves ‘dead space’ next to the Mill Rd bridge and railway line, which has been assessed as dark, noisy and polluted. There is a real concern that this area and the railway arch could be attractive for those who live on the street, many of whom have drug and alcohol dependencies and mental health problems. This would be intimidating to those using the Chisholm Trail, especially after dusk.
Applicable Local Plan policies
68 (7.49) New major developments will need to meet their obligations on open space on-site, as opposed to relying on spare capacity within existing facilities.
We would like to see a revised plan in which:
1) There is at least the minimum of ‘informal open space’ as defined in the Local Plan.
2) There is a larger, contiguous open space at the northern end, opening onto Hooper St, opposite the junction with Ainsworth St (see Figure 1 below). This could be achieved by removing the five terraced houses that front onto Hooper St, and instead building residences on part of Eagle Park. This would realise two key benefits:
It would open up a vista from Hooper St onto the public open space, making it more accessible and inviting to residents of neighbouring streets, and more suitable for community events.
It would make it possible to align the main cycle/foot access to the site with Ainsworth St, improving safety at this awkward junction, and improving legibility of the route through the site.
3) The Chisholm Trail is re-routed (see below), allowing the apartment buildings to be set slightly closer to the railway line, increasing green space in the main body of the site.
4) Space behind the apartments is used for secure cycle parking. (There would be no through route behind the apartments.)
5) The ‘future building’ is oriented parallel to the railway line, substantially increasing the area of the courtyard. This may require the removal of two or three trees that currently stand between the car park and the railway line, but this shouldn’t rule this out as an option. (Of course replacement trees should be planted elsewhere on the site.)
Overprovision for residents
We believe that 151 spaces for 184 dwellings (a ratio of 0.82) is far too high when the SPD states that “the aspiration is to provide low car parking provision.” We interpret that to mean, lower than is typically found in this part of Cambridge. Camcycle did an informal audit of local streets on 13 November, and concluded that the ratio of parking spaces to houses is close to 0.5. We have suggested to CIP that they obtain figures from the County Council for the ratio of vehicle permits to households in the Petersfield parking zone to confirm this.
The published ratio of 0.65 omits visitor spaces, but we see no reason to make this distinction, as it’s not made for on-street parking elsewhere in the ward.
There is little justification for providing a higher ratio of parking spaces for an inner city development, within easy walking and cycling distance of all amenities, from supermarkets to the railway station. It’s a waste of valuable space.
In order to make car sharing more attractive and convenient, there should be more than one parking space assigned for shared cars.
Car storage for the wider community
There is however an opportunity to remove a significant number of vehicles from surrounding streets by offering underground spaces in this development for rent to non-residents. This may argue for creating the largest basement car park that it’s cost-efficient to build, budgeting a long-term future income to the freehold management company.
Reducing car parking pressure on surrounding streets would enable space to be reallocated, for instance to provide:
More on-street cycle parking
Longer double yellow lines around junctions to improve safety
Elimination of pavement parking (e.g. on the east side of Kingston St)
Communal bin storage areas (perhaps underground as in Eddington)
Trees and plant beds
In order to drive this change, the City and County Councils should agree a phased reduction in on-street parking provision. One way could be to set a target percentage reduction in parking provision in an electoral division (perhaps starting at 1% and increasing annually). The County Councillor would be responsible for agreeing with residents which bays are to be removed and what they are to be replaced with. Implementing a residents parking zone might exempt an area from reducing provision for a few as an added incentive.
It is unclear what the status is of the four parking bays marked on Eagle Foundry Street. These obstruct a route that will be well used by cyclists (whether or not the Chisholm Trail is rerouted as proposed below).
There is a need for loading (short-stay) bays throughout the site for delivery vehicles, and residents without on-plot parking.
Applicable Local Plan policies
81 (9.22) In areas of the city where traffic congestion and/or pollution from traffic are particularly high, a zero increase or reduction in car traffic through any proposed redevelopment will be sought. This includes the City Centre and Newmarket Road.
82 Car-free and car-capped development is acceptable in the following circumstances:
where there is good, easily walkable and cyclable access to a district centre or the City
where there is high public transport accessibility; and
where the car-free status of the development can realistically be enforced by planning obligations and/or on-street parking controls.
6) Replace on-carriageway parking bays with offset loading bays space evenly throughout the site.
7) Rather than impose a garage on prospective owners of the detached houses, provide more living space on the plot and offer the option to lease a parking space in the basement under the apartments.
8) Provide surface parking spaces off the carriageway for two, not one, rental cars (both with charging points).
9) Ensure that there are short-stay parking bays throughout the development to facilitate loading/unloading and deliveries.
10) If it is cost-effective to build a large basement car park, then make excess spaces (above a minimum allocation required for residents of this development) available to rent as car storage for residents outside the development.
The junction of Ainsworth St and Hooper St has poor visibility, as the building edges are close to the road and the pavements are narrow. For safety and legibility of the route for people walking and cycling, we would rather the route aligned with Ainsworth St (see ‘Open space’ above).
We have grave concerns about how safe the Chisholm Trail will feel. Part of feeling safe is knowing that there are escape routes and help close at hand (such as a door to knock on) if needed. The proposed design has the Chisholm Trail hemmed in for over 150m between a wall with locked gates and a fence. The route will not be well surveilled, as there are no ground floor windows overlooking.
If someone were to be mugged on this section of the Chisholm Trail, it would become a virtual no-go area.
Applicable LP Policies
56 (d): Proposals should ensure that buildings are orientated to provide natural surveillance.
56 (g): Proposals should be designed to remove the threat or perceived threat of crime and improve community safety.
11) Re-route the Chisholm Trail via Eagle Foundry Street.
12) Re-align Eagle Foundry Street to connect with Hooper St opposite Ainsworth St.
13) Create a wide segregated cycle/footway link from the path south to Mill Rd bridge to Headly St, joining opposite Eagle Foundry St.
Junction with Mill Rd
The Depot junction and Devonshire Rd-Kingston St junctions have a poor safety record (see Figure 2). This development is expected to generate 1,246 trips per day. Most of these will be on foot and by cycle via Mill Rd, adding considerably to the volume of people using the narrow pavements and trying to cross the road.
The Chisholm Trail will provide an alternative to crossing Mill Rd to reach the station and beyond. Direct access to it from Mill Rd would benefit in particular residents of Kingston St and Great Eastern St, who do not have access to a pedestrian crossing on the most direct route to the station.
This would be achieved by opening a connection to the Chisholm Trail via the access road alongside Mill Rd bridge (in front of Regent Cambridge language school). This would also increase the permeability and safety of the Chisholm Trail at a point where there is a risk of antisocial behaviour or worse (see Chisholm Trail above).
It is our understanding that County Council Highways officers have objected to opening up this access on the grounds that people cycling would meet Mill Rd at a dangerous angle. If this is true, it can surely be addressed by careful junction design.
Additionally, there needs to be either a zebra crossing of Mill Rd between Kingston St and Bharat Way, or traffic lights at the Devonshire Rd-Kingston St junction. Consideration needs to be given to the fact that HGVs have to cross the centre line in order to turn left into Devonshire Rd.
Applicable LP Policies
81 (9.24): Financial contributions will be sought towards schemes approved by the City and County Councils for any necessary improvements required as a result of development. The existing conditions on the wider transport network and any increase in demand over and above the existing use’s levels will need to be taken into account.
Require, as part of the S106 agreement, that funds are provided to:
14) Connect the Chisholm Trail to the access road alongside the north side of Mill Rd bridge, and redesign the junction at Mill Rd to increase safety.
15) Improve the safety of this section of Mill Rd with traffic lights and/or a new pedestrian crossing.
Future building next to Mill Rd
The S106 commitment on community space for this development is to be delivered as part of a future planning application. This is not acceptable as the community has a right to know what that provision will be.
16) Refuse or defer this application until it can be considered alongside the application for the ‘future building’ containing the S106 community space.
We are pleased to see a strong commitment to providing cycle parking, including for off-gauge (cargo/trailer) bikes. However the provision of surface cycle parking in between the apartments has severely reduced the permeability of the Chisholm Trail. The recommendations here will make cycle parking more accessible and release basement space.
17) Reroute the Chisholm Trail through the development (see above).
18) Relocate all secure cycle parking to behind the apartments rather than in the basement and in between apartment blocks.
19) Retain visitor cycle parking racks between the apartment blocks.
The proposal is to have 50% of the underground parking spaces with active or passive (unconnected) charging points. It is generally accepted that almost all new cars will be electric within a decade.
20) Provide at least passive provision for a charging point for all parking bays.
Response to second consultation by CIP (for reference)
We recognise that there has been significant movement on provision of parking to align more closely with car ownership in the surrounding area. However we still believe that a ratio of 0.65 is too high, potentially wasting valuable space that could instead be allocated to people or cycles rather than cars. The SPD aspires to this being a “low car” development, which we interpret to mean, lower than is typically found in this part of Cambridge.
We would suggest that CIP obtain figures from the County Council for the ratio of vehicle permits to households in the Petersfield parking zone. This will indicate what the true level of car ownership is in this area.
We are aware that a member of Camcycle did an informal audit of local streets on 13 November, and concluded that the ratio of parking spaces to houses is close to 0.5.
We would further suggest that, rather than impose a garage on prospective owners of the detached houses, provide more living space on the plot and offer the option to lease a parking space in the basement under the apartments. The street in front of the houses will need short-stay waiting bays in any case (for deliveries and tradespeople), so owners will still have the convenience of being able to load/unload their car in front of their house.
We are pleased to see a strong commitment to providing cycle parking, including for off-gauge (cargo/trailer) bikes. However, provision is still too low to meet the aspiration for a low-car development. A significant proportion of 1-bed apartments will have too occupants plus occasional visitors, so 1 cycle parking space per apartment will not be sufficient. A case can be made for having closer to 400 spaces (not including the YMCA). We would like to see more detail on the provision for the apartments, especially for off-gauge bikes (cargo/trailer), which are becoming increasingly popular, and make car-free living possible for many more people.
Providing too little cycle parking will lead to bikes being scattered around the site, as has happened on so many other developments (e.g. around CB1).
The proposal is to have 25% of the underground parking spaces with active or passive (unconnected) charging points. It is generally accepted that all new cars will be electric within a decade. Therefore we would argue that all parking spaces, underground and overground (for disabled and car-share vehicles), should have at least passive provision for a charging point.
We accept the findings that the corner nearest Mill Rd bridge will not provide a high quality recreational space. However, the proposed provision of open green space is too fragmented for recreational use. With the exception of the playground for young children, the green space provides breathing space for residents, but nothing that could be used by older children, to play any kind of informal sport or games; nor it is large enough for community events.
The Limes green space is especially pointless, having been assessed as dark, noisy and polluted. There is a real concern that this area could be attractive for those who live on the street, many of whom have drug and alcohol dependencies and mental health problems. This would be intimidating to those using the Chisholm Trail, especially after dusk.
Given the loss of a community centre at the Howard Mallett building, and past failures to deliver other community buildings in the area, there is a strong desire for something owned and run by the community.
The YMCA’s proposal looks positive and clearly has potential to provide much-needed community amenities in the Petersfield/Romsey area, especially for children and young families. We would like to see more detail and meaningful assurances (i.e. some form of binding agreement) about the facilities that the YMCA or any future owner of the buildings will provide to the local community, and on what terms. This should set out what role local community groups will have in the running of the building and facilities, and how this relationship will be sustained for the long term. This should all be published and evaluated before any decision is made about the rest of the depot site.
We would encourage the YMCA to research local community needs (for instance, nursery care has been identified as a local need), and make a detailed commitment as to what services it will provide.
We have a major concern about the arrangement and orientation of the YMCA buildings, which creates ‘dead space’ next to the Mill Rd bridge and railway line (see ‘Open space’ above). We would suggest that more valuable open space might be created by orienting the YMCA residential block parallel to the railway line (in line with the apartment blocks), and substantially increasing the area of the courtyard.
Those accessing the Chisholm Trail from Mill Rd will be directed past Eagle Foundry St. This won’t work: human nature being what it is, people will cycle the shorter route up Eagle Foundry St and enter Hooper St at what is intended as a pedestrian access. People cycling from Ainsworth St may also choose to use the closer access point and use Eagle Foundry St.
The tight turns where the Chisholm Trail meets Hooper St may need to be re-thought out to provide a clearer link to Ainsworth St.
We are also concerned about how safe the Chisholm Trail will feel. It is not clear how well surveilled the route will be, running past the backs of buildings, with no doorways. Part of feeling safe is knowing that there is help close at hand if needed, such as doors to knock on.
In general, more thought needs to be go into modelling (perhaps with a focus group) likely real-world behaviours and perceptions of safety, and adapting the cycle route accordingly.
We are disappointed that no progress seems to have been made with incorporating the leased garages into the development from the outset. They are an ugly waste of space and impede good integration of the site with rest of north Petersfield. Leaseholders should be given options, for instance to swap their lease for a parking space under the apartments, or to be bought out. The cost of terminating the leases should be set against the opportunity cost of developing the site for more housing and improved permeability of the development, with more direct access from Sturton St.
Cambridge Womens Resources Centre
There has been no mention of the fate of the Cambridge Womens Resources Centre, which provides an essential service, in particular as a refuge for vulnerable and abused women. Where will it relocate to, and how will the City Council assist to guarantee its continuity and sustainability?
Response to initial consultation by CIP
Inadequate ambition on car usage
Average car ownership in Petersfield and Romsey is much lower than is being proposed in the depot site plans. The apartments recently built around Great Northern Rd in CB1 have 48 parking spaces for 137 units, a ratio of 35%. CIP are proposing about 210 spaces for about 230 units, a ratio of 91%.
We would like to see a large reduction in allocation for surface parking in order to create more public space, a more attractive environment, and more affordable houses. The only surface provision should be for loading, tradespeople, shared cars (e.g. Zipcar) and disabled parking.
Parking (or, more accurately for most people, car storage) provision for the entire site could be contained in the basement of the apartment block. Houses could be provided with more living space and a covered, secure storage space for bikes, gardening equipment, workshop, or whatever – considerably smaller than the proposed garages.
Need for affordability
We want to see a clear commitment to substantially more than 40% affordable housing, and for ‘affordable’ to mean genuinely affordable to ordinary people, with a mix of rented and different ownership structures.
We are concerned that the partnership with Hill means that there will be too much emphasis on generating profit, rather than satisfying the social need for affordable housing. We understand that Hill brings valuable expertise, but it is not clear who is driving this project and for whose benefit. This needs to be articulated clearly with no moving of goalposts later on. This is a unique opportunity to provide for many current and future generations of Cambridge residents. It must not be squandered or compromised.
Petersfield is short of attractive, usable public space. The most recent additions, Ravensworth Gardens and St Matthew’s Gardens are both disconnected from the wider communities, and therefore underused. For public spaces to be well-used and loved, they must be visible, adjacent to and readily accessible from a major public thoroughfare.
The local community would like to see more than the minimum amount of open space required on this site. A number of recent developments in the area have avoided their Section 106 obligation to provide public space by making a payment to the council instead. As there is no other land available to develop for open space, it has been spent instead on “improvements”. We need more green space!
The best locations for open space on the site are on the south-east corner, which is visible, adjacent to and accessible from Mill Rd; and the north side adjacent to Hooper St.
The initial plan differs greatly from the SPD in having large houses built in the south-east corner. This is not the most desirable location to have a house, being overlooked from the bridge, shaded by trees, and exposed to the greatest road noise. Better to have an open space large enough for people to kick a ball around without causing a nuisance to neighbours. The space would also be ideal for community events, e.g. as part of Mill Rd fairs.
The northern space, incorporating a children’s play area, would be well used by residents of St Matthew’s, being far from traffic noise and pollution.
Some open space should of course be included within the site too, but larger spaces will see more use than many disconnected small pieces.
This site must aspire to be award-winning, and a reference for future developments. We want to to see high quality architecture that is crafted, sympathetic to the local area, and interestingly innovative. The urban design, architecture and landscaping should promote a happy and engaged community. The development should demonstrate best practices in sustainable design, for energy and water consumption, drainage, waste disposal, etc.
Car parks off Hooper St
The cost of waiting for Hooper St garage leases to expire, then redeveloping the site at a later date must be considerably greater than doing it when access and machinery is available from the main site. There is also a large opportunity cost in not providing the ten or so new houses that could be built on the site.
The garages are an ugly waste of valuable space. They no longer serve the purpose for which they were originally intended (to remove cars from Ainsworth and other local streets) as they are let to people well outside the immediate locality and most likely used for general storage.
We understand that at least some current leaseholders have already been approached and rejected whatever offer was made to them. This is too important an issue to leave there. A full cost-benefit analysis must be carried out (with an upper cost limit based on valuations for compulsory purchase – which would not of course be made public). More creative thought should be put into developing options to offer current leaseholders like-for-like or better alternatives.
Hooper St access road
The blocked-off access from Hooper St appears to take up valuable space for little purpose. There is no obvious benefit for refuse trucks, which will need to make a circuit of the site, not go through it.
It would be a more efficient use of space to provide a single pedestrian/cycle access point to the site (which could be wide enough for an emergency vehicle) opposite Ainsworth St. The cycle lane would split off towards the railway line and the footway would continue straight on through the development (and be landscaped so as to be less attractive as a cycling route).
The workshops organised to develop the SPD were well-attended and positive. Much was lost in translation in the SPD, and there is a growing feeling that the SPD, and now the initial concepts, are departing significantly from the vision that the community was developing. I would urge CIP to run another workshop or two before committing to detailed designs. Exhibitions have their place, but they are not the most effective way to gather ideas. Well-run workshops promote dialogue, understanding and trust. That’s what we all need!
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.
Normally the residents association doesn’t get involved in domestic planning applications, but 20 Devonshire Rd is a ‘feature house’, being the largest single home on the road. Its redevelopment is therefore likely to be of interest to the wider public.
The purchaser is a developer who plans to renovate and subdivide the house and workshops into four one-bedroom flats, a two-bedroom flat, and a one-bedroom maisonette. The front elevation will remain largely unchanged.
It is unclear how many of the the flats will count as new properties, and therefore how many occupiers will be eligible for residents parking permits; the developer believes it will be three; a council officer indicated it will be none.
Update 3 July 2017: A public exhibition of plans for the site will be held at St Barnabas Church on Wednesday 19 July between 3pm and 6.30pm. The developer is Cambridge Investment Partnership, a joint venture between Cambridge City Council and Hill, a commercial housebuilder.
The City Council depot site off Mill Road (next to the railway line) is due to be redeveloped for housing. A planning and development brief (known as a Supplementary Planning Document or SPD) has been published, following consultation and adoption by the City Council.
The planning and development brief will help guide the re-development of the site for housing in accordance with the emerging Cambridge Local Plan 2014. It outlines the aspirations of the site, as well as the key issues, constraints and opportunities that will influence how future development on site will take place.
The Chisholm Trail is a new cycle and pedestrian route proposed for funding by the Greater Cambridge City Deal. It will run between the existing train station and the new (‘Cambridge North’) station at Chesterton, and will provide residents of Petersfield a quicker and safer route:
Under Mill Road, re-using ‘spare’ railway arches under the bridge. There will be a new cycle/footpath from Mill Road to the station car park, running alongside the railway lines.
To Ditton Meadows and Stourbridge Common, via a new tunnel under Newmarket Road at the Leper Chapel.
To Cambridge North station, Cambridge Business Park and Cambridge Science Park, via a new bridge over the Cam, next to the existing railway bridge.
SoPRA’s response to consultation
We are strongly supportive of the Chisholm Trail as it will provide considerable convenience and safety for residents of South Petersfield and visitors. Not having to cross Mill Road at the busy and dangerous crossing at Devonshire Road and Kingston Street will be a particular relief to parents with young children (many of whom attend St Matthew’s Primary School to the north). For residents who work at the business parks on the northern fringe of the city, cycling to work will become considerably more attractive.
Of particular relevance to us are the connections to the western route from Devonshire Road and Mill Road, which are not clear from the diagram. Will there be access:
via the existing steps from the south side of Mill Road bridge?
(This would be highly desirable for pedestrians.)
from the access road off Devonshire Road just to the north of the Travis Perkins site?
(This would be useful for residents on that access road and at the top of Devonshire Road, and for visitors to the pub.)
from Angus Close?
(This would be useful for residents living in Devonshire Road north of the station car park entrance.)
Also, what will be the marked route for cyclists and pedestrians through the station car park? Will this be sufficiently clear to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians? There is likely to be a large volume of cycle and pedestrian through-traffic, so this will need to be monitored carefully.
The lead council officers are Liz Waring and Patrick Joyce.
A planning application by Gonville Hotel to refurbish Gresham House was granted approval on 4 November 2015:
Refurbishment of Gresham House to provide an additional 10 hotel bedrooms, extension to rear of Gresham House to provide an additional 21 hotel bedrooms, (subterranean) basement to Gresham House and provide a gym, dance studios and subterranean day spa facilities and a plant room, front extension to Gonville Hotel to provide a new dining area, and associated external works and landscaping.
This follows an earlier refusal to grant permission to demolish the building, against which residents lobbied strongly and successfully.
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.