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.
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:
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.
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…
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.
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 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.
The Mill Rd Depot SPD is published and going to committee on Thursday. No big changes from the draft really – less than ideal location for community facilities but mostly good building heights, traffic from Mill Rd, etc.
The document itself is Appendix D on the webpage.
We’re having a planning gathering on Wednesday 8th March, at 7:30pm at the Six Bells (on Covent Garden, just off Mill Road). Do join us! We need to discuss how we make sure we watch new applications and keep organized as well as current open issues.