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.

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Mill Road Depot Update

So we had a productive community meeting and thanks to the local councilors who attended (Kevin Blencowe, Richard Robertson & Dave Baigent). We also had some expert comment on the Chisholm Trail from Jim Chisholm.

If you have feedback which you would like to communicate to Allies & Morrison, who are preparing the Supplementary Planning Document on behalf of the City Council, you can forward it to Nicola Hillier ( at the council who will forward it.

The summary report to the East Area Committee on January 28th is really pretty good – see it here. It goes so far as to note the desire for low carbon energy generation site, after key issues which cover our concerns.

In our meeting, some opinions did become clearer on reflection and with further discussion.

  • Traffic is a huge local concern. Access must be via Mill Road. The existing access restrictions (Gwydir St, Hooper St) work well although their abuse by some motorcyclists was noted. Emergency vehicle access to the depot site from the north is fine but we need to avoid any chance of it being misused.
  • Everyone would like to see a low car development, which is possible due to the excellent local transport links for all but cars (car access being a problem). This needs to be demonstrably realistic to avoid overspill of unwanted cars onto the surrounding area, however. “No car” development is generally not considered realistic. The need for provision for visitors isn’t noted in current proposals.
  • Any loss of parking resulting from the development – such as the removal of the on-site garages or losses on Hooper Street – needs to be replaced like for like. There will be more pressure on parking from other minor development, Sturton St’s new Islamic College, the possibility of residents’ only parking, etc.; we can’t afford this scheme to contribute to that.
  • It was noted that much local car use is at the “every other weekend” level. There was strong support for allocated car club spaces on site, for the benefit of the site and surrounding area.
  • The Chisholm Trail route as proposed has issues; the tight (> 90 degree) turn onto Hooper Street is a problem in particular. Jim Chisholm notes that the 6m or so of space used for the Chisholm Trail could be placed more centrally in the development and would hugely open up the central space, to a big overall benefit.
  • The Kingston St – Devonshire Road crossing of Mill Road is a noted accident blackspot and it is hoped that measures related to this development can improve that.
  • Housing for the elderly and disabled could well support some of the low traffic aims – and would be popular locally.
  • Social housing would be widely supported as would provision for live-work spaces which we consider a characteristic of this area.
  • The need for community facilities is clear and the combination with CWRC and much needed nursery provision is again mentioned as a very strong approach. The buildings shown on the proposals are fantastic, but the shortage of facilities in the area is really very heavily tilted to the North end of Petersfield, so we would really like to see the major community facilities (including nursery) provision at that end. It may not seem like a huge distance, but with children especially, it matters and there is a real problem right now with even basic things like children’s birthday party bookings, not to mention the shortage of nursery places for the dense central area of Petersfield.
  • We urge Allies & Morrison to consider underground possibilities, particularly for a car park, but recognize cost and benefits may not add up.




Mill Road Depot Development

We’re holding a follow-up meeting to the recent Mill Road Depot SPD Consultation workshop. If you missed that and would like to know more, or just have more thoughts to discuss, please come along on Wednesday 3rd February at 7pm to the Alex Wood Hall (Norfolk Terrace, just off Norfolk Street).

Thanks to the local Labour councillors as well as to Allies & Morrison, who are running the depot consultation and are making their powerpoints and initial draft idea plan available to us.

This is hugely important to PACT – it’s the last major development for which there is space in Petersfield north of Mill Road, and we really want to see it done right this time. I’m sure we’ll talk about our hopes and fears as this moves towards development as well as the SPD itself.

Mill Road Depot Draft Ideas

Mill Rd Depot Consultation

The council has a Mill Road Depot consultation on 26th January. Chase a place if you’re interested! We may well hold a follow-up meeting to discuss where we might push for improvements, but raising flags at the official meeting is important!

email, or by
telephone, 01223 457942 to confirm your place

Mill Road Depot Site Supplementary Planning Document
Second Workshop – test and review of emerging proposals
26 January 2016, 5.30pm to 7.50pm at Bharat Bhavan (former Old Library) off Mill Road,
Cambridge, CB1 2AZ

Cambridge City Council has commissioned architecture and master-planning practice, Allies and Morrison to prepare a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for Mill Road Depot. The purpose of the SPD is to supplement the emerging Cambridge Local Plan which provides a planning policy framework for the Mill Road Opportunity Area and proposes the allocation of the depot for new housing.
The workshop will take place on Tuesday 26 January from 5.30pm to 7.50pm at Bharat Bhavan (former Old Library) off Mill Road.

Following a first information gathering workshop in December, the consultant team has been developing options in more detail. The purpose of the second workshop is for the consultants to present a round-up of the feedback from the first workshop and the emerging principles and potential options for the Mill Road Depot site. Your views and opinions will be used to refine the material and inform the preparation of the draft SPD which would be subject to formal consultation in the Spring 2016.
Places are limited by venue capacity and will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. Please contact Anna McGinty at Cambridge City Council by email, or by telephone, 01223 457942 to confirm your place.

Keeping community assets safe

We’re planning to work with CAMRA to register all pubs in Petersfield as community assets. As a local registered charity, PACT is uniquely suited to do this. Registration both delays sale – enabling communty organizations to attempt to save them – and, for pubs, means a change of use must get planning consent. 

If you have particular reasons why one of the 13 Petersfield pubs is of community value, get in touch. We need to write the strongest applications we can.