HistoryWorks, who you might have seen at our Party on the Piece, are running a ‘Singing History’ project over the next couple of weeks. It’s free to take part and sounds like a lot of interesting fun! Flyer: Railway Singers pdf flyer

Dear Singers & those who’ve not sung for ages! Come & join a ‘scratch’ choir!

Please do join us for a series of FREE railway-themed singing sessions!

To celebrate our voices and our community Helen Weinstein and the team sourcing the stories and songs at Historyworks, (Mario Satchwell and Tizzy Faller, Bethany Kirby and Jon Calver), invite everyone to help us mark the contribution of the Railways coming to Cambridge in 1845, a transformative historical moment which saw opportunities for travels, cultures, connections. Many of the songs are inspired by local history research and have details taken from the fantastic Mill Road History Society’s “Capturing Cambridge” reports.


Lyrics inspired by Cambridge’s past have been especially composed by the poet Michael Rosen and CBBC’s Horrible-Histories songwriter, Dave Cohen. The lyrics have been arranged for our ‘Railway Singers’ by the Music Director, Mario Satchwell, and by the Music Arranger for the project, Bethany Kirby.  Movement sessions will be led by Rebecca Powell with support from Angharad Walter, Performing Art Instructors at Cambridge Stagecoach.

SESSIONS ARE FREE! You are welcome to attend ONE or A FEW or ALL

There will be gospel and soul numbers, folk songs and much more! The Railway Singers will meet this Autumn and perform at the Mill Road Winter Fair from 11am to 12 noon on Saturday 2nd December, starting with a concert in St Philip’s Church and if weather permits parading four blocks to sing by the railway-inspired sculpture of the ‘Romsey R’ when it is unveiled by the artists, Harry Gray and Will Hill on the corner of Mill Road and Cavendish Road.


Thursday 21st September 7.30pm to 8.30pm at St Philip’s Church Centre, 185 Mill Road, CB1 3AN; and afterwards there will be a social from 8.30pm-9.30pm or so when we will walk around the corner to view the art studio of Harry Gray, the sculptor of the ‘Romsey R’ where Historyworks will provide free refreshments for the social, including beer from the local Calverley’s Brewery, apple juices from the Cambridge Organic Food Company, cakes from Fen Ditton, crisps from Corkers of Ely!


Please note most of the singing and movement sessions are on Thursday nights from 7.30pm to 9pm but there are a few Sunday afternoon sessions for recording soundscapes and songs, learning movements to accompany the gospel numbers, and these are programmed for 2pm to 4pm so that singers can easily bring along friends and family to join in!  All the dates and venues are printed overleaf on the flyer.  Celebratory Sing-Along will be Saturday December 2nd inside St Philip’s Church with a Rehearsal at 10am and Performance at 11am!

Professor Helen Weinstein

Director of Historyworks

twitter: @historyworkstv

website: www.historyworks.tv

Mill Road Depot Consultation

So the consultation yesterday was buzzing with local interest, protest and opinions. The Cambridge Investment Partnership has uploaded all their presentations to their website. You can provide feedback there too (at the bottom).

You can comment to us on our facebook page or privately to our trustees by email to info@pactCambridge.org.

Thoughts and observations –

  • We heard it whispered that 1 car per dwelling underground parking might be proposed though the typical modern ratio is around 0.4 so not sure yet. This is clearly a fantastic area for public transport, walking and cycling, but at the same time we need to avoid overspill onto crowded residential streets nearby. it’s likely a residents’ parking scheme will be in force on all nearby streets before completion, though, and Depot residents would be unlikely to qualify (normal for new developments, I believe).  What is needed? What can Mill Road take?
  • The Argyle Street Housing Co-op were around and keen to see cooperative housing on site. This is one way to ensure that the site is not all sold to commuters, and can control car ownership.
  • There was protest outside for a full site of council housing. We’re hearing “40% affordable” officially and “50% social housing” less officially but openly from councillors. I’d also like to see any housing that is sold, to be sold in a way that allows people to buy it to live in it – i.e. not a huge up-front deposit two years in advance (which only works for investors).
  • The community building is looking a bit small and near the busy entrance. We’d rather see if up near Ainsworth St, on balance, with easier access from it to a large area of open space – that is key for some users and would enable it to host events. The only thing which might work against that is wider community use possibilities for the old library building (Bharat Bhavan) or gatehouse.
  • The odd wall of buildings facing Ainsworth St on Hooper St is there apparently on conservation officer advice, instead of a green space view from Ainsworth St. I know which I prefer – that seems a bad move that has nothing really to do with the history of the area.
  • Green, open space is looking a bit squeezed but still largely the same.
  • Building heights look similar to SPD.
  • The Ainsworth-Hooper-Depot Chisholm trail still has those two very tight turns for cyclists.
  • They’re seeking ideas for the gatehouse building.


Mill Road Depot – what we know

We went along to a pre-meeting with the development partnership which was interesting but they shared very little information. We hope to learn more on July 19th (3-8pm, Mill Rd Library, remember). My personal quick notes on what we seem to know so far…

  • Underground parking is apparently now considered viable after further study.
  • The plans have gone up to 230 homes from 167 in the SPD (planning outline) apparently largely due to the underground parking. (addendum: by my calculation, this raises density from 62 homes per hectare to 85 homes per hectare – which is similar to the very high density in the rest of Petersfield and not crazy for a town centre in isolation, but given the lack of green space and shortage of many types of facilities in the area, it needs watching).
  • The road access is as wanted locally – via Mill Road, because the narrow back streets can’t take any increase – but it sounds like parking and road access isn’t going to be discouraged as much as we might like to limit the use of Mill Road; they’re saying that with a good junction design (design in progress), Mill Road can take it. It’s hard to agree that Mill Road can take any increase, of course.
  • We heard nothing on community facilities, CWRC or other community provision (school, nursery, doctors, etc.) which are all under stress in the area. This is a huge red line for us – every major development in the area sends S.106 funding elsewhere in the city and we have shortages of everything. This can’t happen here.
    • Apparently the county council isn’t making any moves to increase school provision locally yet. It’s down to them.
  • The partnership have approached Hooper St garage lease holders – not clear if they’re asking to buy back leases or relocate them.
  • It’s a 50-50 partnership and appears to be closely tied to www.hill.co.uk but we don’t know the terms. The website is https://www.millroad-development.co.uk/
  • They’re aiming for a planning application in October
  • They emphasize it’s family, not student, housing.
  • The council’s 40% affordable aim is to be met but we don’t know how hard that commitment is legally (it’s routinely decreased during development on other sites, of course). From councillors, we hear the reality is intended to be more like 50% social housing. We haven’t heard more about cooperatives or other schemes (It matters to neighbours because cooperatives are the only scheme yet mentioned which can reliably limit car use). Nothing yet on other angles, like whether we can ensure more of he site goes to owner-occupiers, with the benefits to building community which would result.
  • The website shows no plans but the only sketch appears to show a reduction in “usable” green space in favour of trees (although moving some to the top, opening up the end of Ainsworth St, would be lovely).

Here’s the community facilities document we shared with the CIP:

A Community Centre for Petersfield – July2017

Norfolk St

Norfolk Street may be changing. There is a planning application to convert the Norfolk St Deli into a flat and another to change B’s Kitchen (previously our beloved Cook for You) into flats – though that one has been refused as too bad for the neighbours, for now.

Changing a shop in a “local centre” to a house requires exceptional reasons so objecting is powerful – what do you think? There are strong personal reasons for the owners, but we’re worried that this is a danger to the other shops in the area; Mill Road may be more famous locally, but Norfolk St has some great little shops and a lot of passing foot traffic at the weekend and on school runs.

The open application to convert the Norfolk St Deli is 17/1141/FUL.

The Petersfield

Just a quick update on The Petersfield.

Various neighbours of the new pub are very upset about issues with The Petersfield. We’re talking to them, to the owners/managers, to local councillors and others to try to help improve the situation as much as possible. Everyone – the City Pub Co. included – seems to want to get on, and we’re trying to our contacts to help. We’re not in a position to get legally involved, but we can advise anyone who would like to formally raise a complaint with Environmental Health etc. The licensing committee did not seem to recognise properly that the new pub has a significantly greater capacity and the use of the outside area is in much greater use. There may be a chance for a licensing review, but the best solutions might well be ones outside the scope of that process. So, we’re talking…

Fantastic news for St Matthew’s Piece

Huge thanks and congratulations to Valerie and everyone involved for a spectactularly successful defence of St Matthew’s Piece today. The planning permission for the massive, already-installed air units on top of the Howard Mallett building, and the new paths between it and York Street (on protected open space) were both REFUSED and both will need to be removed. There may well be an appeal, but the grounds look very solid. It’s a truly great victory for the residents of Petersfield. An absolutely amazing job based on solid hard work.

Community Centres Strategy

Please, please take part in the City Council’s community centre strategy survey and emphasize some of the ways Petersfield is in need of more community provision.

Somehow, despite local residents fighting for a community centre in Petersfield for 20 years, we’re considerd not to need one. The risk is that as we move towards trying to make a new community centre happen on the Mill Road Depot site, the council turns around and decides we’re not in enough need – and offers us just a “community room” or similar provision hopelessly irrelevant to Petersfield’s needs. Please help.

The strategy report is here: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/sites/default/files/draft-community-centres-strategy.pdf

Respond to the survey here: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations/community-centres-strategy-consultation

The report focuses mostly on the community centre changes proposed to the north side of Cambridge – hugely contentious themselves – but there is space towards the end to mention Petersfield.

Points you could make –

  • It says Petersfield has no gap in community centre provision
    • based on unbelievably limited analysis of 15 minute walking distance (yes, some of Petersfield can walk to Ross Street in 15 minutes, never mind that it’s incredibly busy already);
    • and on saying the area of deprivation which is acknowledged around Norfolk Street is effectively too small to require a local space.
    • and that’s it – the basis for the conclusions is incredibly narrow.
  • It ignores other sources of need such as lack of local open space.
  • It ignores housing density as a creator of need for space – in fact the 15 minute walking distance criteria absurdly counts against Petersfield when exactly the opposite need is clearly arguable – density creates the need for common space.
    • (Check p.21, which mentions “densely populated areas of the city” but genuinely looks like it must have a real error in scoring Petersfield as “1”).
  • It takes no account of demand on existing community facilities
  • The evidence listed is so limited as to be useless.
    • In North Petersfield, for example, St Matthew’s Church is not even listed despite its hall being probably the most important facility in the area. St Matthew’s School is listed despite being realistically available for little other than school club use. The evidence gathering is simply not related to the actual community use of spaces.
  • It takes no account of types of use or access to different parts of the community.
  • Its 15 minute walking distance criteria ignores the very term “community” and the key need for community provision to be about enabling communities.
  • There is no mention of areas where communities clearly want facilities, such as Petersfield, or of communities which need more help to make this happen. We simply don’t have the opportunities which less dense areas have.

The whole report is a sad lost opportunity. It ends up focusing almost entirely on rearranging existing centres to the north side of Cambridge.

PACT has done more detailed analysis of community provision – particularly for the Sturton Street Methodist Chapel effort’s business plan – than this report. These conclusions are just not strong enough to base important decisions on. Please tell the council so before 5th May.