Good Boundary News!

The local government boundary commission took our views into account – and the final Cambridgeshire County Council ward boundaries are completely unaltered from the city boundaries at the north end! Very good news. At the south end, Petersfield extends – all the wards grow -but we’re pleased that the St Matthew’s end hasn’t been cut into in order to make the required enlargement to Abbey.

The report states: “In response to our new draft recommendations for Petersfield division, we received over 40 submissions. The majority of respondents were local residents who objected to roads adjoining Abbey Walk, St Matthew’s Gardens and part of Sturton Street being included in Abbey division. All of the local residents proposed the above roads be transferred to Petersfield division. We are persuaded that the objections to our proposals for Petersfield division are supported by strong community evidence and we have decided to modify our recommendations. The boundary is moved to include roads adjoining Abbey Walk, St Matthews Gardens and part of Sturton Street in Petersfield division. We consider this change reflects the community identities of local residents in this part of Cambridge.”

Wednesday – Mill Road Depot exhibition

A staffed exhibition [PDF, 5.64MB] on the Mill Road Depot SPD will take place at the Old School Hall at St Barnabas Church on Mill Road on Wednesday 13 July, 5 to 9pm. We’d really encourage you to go along and add your views – the depot is the last, largest major development in the historic Petersfield area, and it will have a major impact. We’re cautiously pleased with it.

Howard Mallett Again

So it’s very frustrating to be campaigning over the Howard Mallett site again, after some sort of reasonable ending seemed in sight last year.

Chard Robinson, the owners/leaseholders seem to be determined to lease the site to the Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts. The  revised planning application with its “addendum planning statement” is open for comments until 4th July (extended from 28th June). We encourage you to register your views.

PACT did meet and discuss this with Chard Robinson, and so we’re mentioned in the addendum and have issued a response: 2016-16-14 response to addendum.

The main problem is that the local plan says you can’t put “university teaching accommodation” which doesn’t “cater to a primarily local market” into a building which has community use – which is very much the history of this site. It’s really black and white, and this is a really important protection because otherwise any community space – Church, school, anything – which comes up for sale can be bought up and used by the many schools which can profit from the Cambridge name and location. Obviously that’s exactly what’s happened to the Sturton St Methodist Chapel, although unfortunately without the need for planning permission since it didn’t need redevelopment.

To find the application you can use this link to Cambridge City Council planning, and search for 2372. Please do comment.


Howard Mallett update

We’ve published a PACT letter today in response to the recent new planning application for this site. It’s clear that this is very much a story which is still developing, and the city council’s planning department will seek more local consultation when they know more about the plans. In the mean time, we hope this letter is a good statement to help defend our community interest in this site. The many objections to an unlimited “general educational” use have made clear the strength of local concern. The letter is attached here.

Petersfield Area Community Trust – CommentEdit

Howard Mallett News…

The old Howard Mallett Centre on St Matthew’s Piece, renamed CityLife House, has been behind hoardings for many months now (blocking even the protected open space on one side of the site). We’ve been wondering what’s going on, as deadline after deadline seems to be missed in handing the building over to the Bodywork Company – something Stephen Chard, a Director of the owning Chard Robinson Group, made very clear was his personal priority for the site.

We knew there were plans forthcoming for student accommodation – but the planning application for that has still not appeared.

Instead, a very minor planning application was submitted in January – that’s common during building works – but it also suggested a change of use from “dance school/studio” to “general educational”.

It looks as if, in pursuit of more money (we assume), Chard Robinson have changed their mind, and plan to lease the site to the Cambridge Education Group – owner of CATS College and the Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts, as well as a language school.

Theresa Kerr, founder and principal of Bodywork, has sadly confirmed the story. It’s very sad for the company, who are currently on five sites and had hoped to consolidate under one roof and who had invested substantial time and money in the plans.

This is obviously the last thing we want to hear – Bodywork is local with strong community ties, so it seemed like a good end for the sad saga of the Howard Mallett Centre. The centre is built on land which was “given in perpetuity to local residents for rest and recreation” and which we believe should never have been sold to private ownership. This change means it would instead bring many more foreign students into the area, competing for accommodation with Anglia Ruskin, who are already causing massive local upset with their support for more student accommodation and removal of much needed nursery provision. In addition, Petersfield has only just lost yet another community site, the Sturton Street Methodist Chapel, to another college.

There’s no question this would be yet another blow to the local community in the most densely populated ward in Cambridge. It may well be the worst possible outcome.

You can at least object to the subtle change of use on the planning website – it looks as if this application is going to committee on May 4th. Try the link below, or google for the “Cambridge Planning Public Access” website, go to the “Online planning application system” and search for “Citylife”. The reference is 15/2372/FUL. There are provisions in the Cambridge Local Plan against new or expanded language schools and CEG operates a language school, so it looks as if there is room to object to the “general educational” use leaving the door open to uses which are against the local plan.

A Small Victory!

Following our complaints about the last minute changes to the Cambridgeshire boundary review, which split parts of the St Matthew’s Area from Petersfield into the County Council Abbey Ward, we got a response!

“At its meeting on 15 March, the Commission acknowledged that, despite following the statutory procedure governing reviews and its own guidance, some residents and groups could feel that there had been insufficient opportunity for their views to be communicated during the consultation process. Accordingly, the Commission has agreed to hold a new phase of public consultation on new electoral arrangements for Cambridgeshire County Council.

The consultation will open on 10 May 2016 and close on 20 June 2016. The Commission will re-publish the boundary proposals it agreed in February and invite local people and organisations to comment on them. Publication of these recommendations will give local people and groups the chance to comment on the boundary proposals for the whole county. Once the consultation has closed, the Commission will carefully examine all the evidence presented, both that received during this period and earlier submissions. The Commission has an open mind about potential changes to its recommendations as a result of the consultation. It will welcome views in support of the proposals and suggestions for alternative boundaries that meet the criteria set out in law. It will then publish final recommendations in September 2016.”

So this is good news. We don’t know yet how to improve the proposals – the number data that the decision was based on isn’t available to us yet – but we hope to propose ideas & discuss with local councillors.

We’re more than happy to hear from anyone and as usual hope we can use the small amount of credibility that the PACT name gives us to champion some good suggestions.

Ridiculous new ward county ward boundaries

For some time now the Local Government Boundary Commission has been running a consultation on new boundary proposals in Cambridgeshire. We’ve kept quiet – all proposals seemed more or less OK, even a radical one to split Petersfield into St Paul’s and St Matthew’s areas. We felt there was nothing proposed which would do damage to local democracy or provision of services.

However, the final recommendations are a different matter. Apparently due to a last minute discovery of a mistake (see section 26 of the final report), the commission has recommended a new northern boundary for Petersfield, randomly wandering down to Norfolk Street. It’s basically ridiculous, slicing into the historic core of the St Matthew’s area to take out a chunk to make the numbers work.

We believe the plan to send these proposals to parliament is clearly wrong and a further round of consultation or withdrawal of these proposals is needed.

The LGCBE website publishes the email address for their chief executive, Jolyon Jackson, please do email him and the key contact Karen Cleverly at . Feel free to cc Daniel Zeichner too – since the proposals face going to parliament next.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 22.12.13