Help stop the ‘BACK STREET BISTRO’ becoming a busy High-Street Style Gastro Pub

The community near the Back Street Bistro is horrified by this huge expansion of the quiet pub & restaurant which goes to planning committee next Wednesday. Report from a resident:

The City Pub Company (East) plc, with £19 million backing, boasts a ‘growing portfolio’ of 14 pubs in ‘affluent cities and major provincial towns’, 4 of the pubs in Cambridge (http://citypubcompanyeast.com/): The Punt Yard beside the Cam in Quayside, The Mill overlooking Mill Pond, the Cambridge Brew House in King Street and The Old Bicycle Shop in Regent Street. These ‘distinctive high quality pubs’ – in hectic tourist hot-spots, among shops in a bustling student precinct and beside a noisy commercial thoroughfare – are about to be joined by a new ‘City Pub’ bang in the middle of our quiet, densely-built and village-like residential neighbourhood at the corner of Hooper and Sturton Streets. Documents on file with Cambridge City Council show how City Pub are redeveloping the intimate, locally owned and managed Back Street Bistro (formerly ‘The White Hart’ since the 1870s) into one of the biggest pub-restaurants in the Mill Road area.

What follows is a progress report and a call for action. Our day of reckoning is at hand, Wednesday 1 February 2017, in Guildhall Committee Room 1 and 2. Planning Committee at its monthly meeting is recommended to approve City Pub’s application for this major redevelopment, which has been going on since October without formal permission (agenda with reports pack: http://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=181&MId=2990&Ver=4). Over 50 neighbours have sent in objections, with none supporting (Public Access Online Register: https://idox.cambridge.gov.uk/online-applications// – enter reference 16/1760/FUL, click Comments, Public Comments). We have been invited to speak for a maximum total of 3 minutes. But the case as it stands looks grim, as do its implications for Petersfield.

Background report  – Licensing Sub-Committee, 28 November

Some of us sent in detailed objections (mine here). But the Sub-Committee stuck to the narrow issues and granted City Pub’s application to vary the Back Street Bistro’s premises licence. Results for the neighbourhood are as follows.

365 DAYS A YEAR WE CAN EXPECT:

Opening hours: 11.00 to 00.30 (to 23.00 Sunday; exception New Year’s Eve)

Background ‘mood music’ playing: 11.00 to 00.30

External doors and windows are not required to be shut;

Alcohol supplied on and off the premises: 11.00 to 00.00 (to 22.30 Sunday; exception New Year’s Eve)

Daily from 07.00 to 23.00:

  • deliveries and collections at any time, including waste-dumping for removal near neighbouring houses;
  • mechanical ventilation system through roof outlet may run continuously;
  • live music entertainment may play indoors (to 22.30 Sunday);
  • outside seating areas may be in use Friday and Saturday (to 22.30 Sunday – Thursday) by as many as 38 customers, dining, drinking and smoking adjacent to neighbours’ gardens.

Among the reasons given for granting City Pub’s request was the Sub-Committee’s acceptance from City Pub ‘that the changes of the layout of the premises do not appear to increase the number of covers substantially’. This reason was based on a material error of fact, as demonstrated with fresh evidence (here; also at Public Access Online Register: https://idox.cambridge.gov.uk/online-applications// – enter reference 16/1760/FUL, click Documents, 16 Jan 2017 Third Party Comments), and thus the determination was flawed. Despite some earlier confusion about numbers, it is now clear that the premises will expand from a capacity of 60 simultaneous ‘covers’ (or place-settings) as stated publicly by Back Street Bistro, to the 114 people/covers stated in City Pub’s planning application, a 90% increase in business capacity.

Most objections raised by ourselves, including customer traffic and noise and odour nuisance, were deemed irrelevant by the Sub-Committee, which said these can only be addressed by way of an application to review the premises licence. Other matters they deemed ‘for the planning committee to determine and are outside the remit of the licensing sub-committee’.

With City Pub’s CEO in attendance on 28 November, the Company’s attitude to our neighbourhood was on display: we were told that they are favouring us with a £500,000 investment, which will keep 2 Sturton Street from falling ‘derelict’. The new premises will come to be ‘loved by locals’. Those trying to attach ‘onerous conditions’ to the licence are ungrateful: ’It’s almost like we’re being punished’, grouched City Pub’s lawyer.

Planning Committee, Wednesday 1 February

Everything objectionable about this application flows from a business decision to reconfigure the premises to maximize revenue – to turn the intimate decade-old, locally owned and managed Back Street Bistro into the biggest of the 13 restaurants/pubs in the west Mill Road area. (All were visited and managers interviewed.) The linchpin of this redevelopment is SIZE. Day in, day out, 12 hours a day, 365 days a year, City Pub will pull in as many customers as possible, up to 114 at a time, to enjoy up-market and alfresco dining and drinking on a quiet corner of a non-through street within a conservation area in the city’s smallest and most densely populated ward (evidence here; also at Public Access Online Register: https://idox.cambridge.gov.uk/online-applications// – enter reference 16/1760/FUL, click Documents, 16 Jan 2017 Third Party Comments). City Pub even plays up their vaulting ambition by proposing to call the latest addition to their chain of gastro-pubs: The Petersfield.

‘Inappropriate!’ you may growl, but the Planning department think otherwise. Enquiries have been made, facts and figures supplied. It now seems likely that almost every one of our objections to this redevelopment is destined to fail (mine here; also at Public Access Online Register: https://idox.cambridge.gov.uk/online-applications// – enter reference 16/1760/FUL, click Documents, 11 Nov 2016 Third Party Comments). Why? Because the crux for Planning is CHANGE OF USE, not SIZE. And according to their research, no change of use is shown in City Pub’s planning application: the new premises are to still to be regarded as an appropriate pub/restaurant like the calm little Back Street Bistro (mixed A3/A4 use), even despite a near doubling of business capacity and the probable near-doubling of negative impacts on the neighbourhood. (The Back Street Bistro was objectionable on several counts.) City Pub are therefore entitled to do as they please within the premises – move the kitchen and loos upstairs, enlarge the licensed area, even in future extend capacity beyond 114 covers. Planning permission was needed only for external changes to the premises, or as City Pub’s application says, ‘replacement of existing roof plant’.

SO WHAT CAN EXPECT?

Planning Committee will not address or place ‘conditions’ with regard to these concerns:

  • near-doubling of seating capacity, including alfresco ground-floor terrace/covered area accommodating 38 covers and sharing walls with adjacent gardens;
  • only a single 1200mm staircase for all traffic to and from first-floor kitchen and lavatories, with no alternative first-floor escape route;
  • nature of staircase attachment to party wall with 4 Sturton Street;
  • first-floor kitchen and lavatory windows directly overlooking bedrooms and sitting rooms 10m across Hooper and Sturton streets;
  • noise and/or odour and/or light nuisance from first-floor kitchen and lavatory windows, which may be left open;
  • extra incoming vehicular traffic with consequent parking and cycle storage problems (100m from the Chisholm Trail ‘cycling superhighway’);
  • no required closure of external windows and doors on ground and first floors.

We understand that Planning are likely to regard all or most of these concerns as matters for other departments, such as Building Control, or Health and Safety, or Public Highways or even Licensing. Why? Because Planning cannot ‘condition’ anything that is not ‘reasonable’, ‘justified’ and ‘necessary’ according to its own protocols, however unreasonable, unjustified or unnecessary some things may appear to us. We are told that the tighter conditions put forward by the Environmental Health Officer (Public Access Online Register: 03 January 2017, Consultee Comments, ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH) do not supersede those set by Licensing. Nor can conditions be laid down to anticipate problems that might arise only after the premises opens, such as street congestion and noise. The neighbourhood amenity is left to City Pub’s discretion.

What’s to be done?

If this information is correct, our best, most reasonable hope now seems to lie in the Planning Committee itself, which consists of ward councillors (our Kevin Blencowe is vice-chair). It is within their remit to interpret and apply planning protocols as circumstances may require (always mindful that City Pub may sue to reverse their decisions). So we can appeal to the Committee’s better natures. These councillors have neighbourhoods of their own; they will appreciate how ours is set to be transformed, its character and amenity jeopardized by a juggernaut parked on a corner of our back streets.

MASS PRESENCE IS PERSUASIVE. Please come early and be counted next Wednesday. The agenda (with reports pack: http://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=181&MId=2990&Ver=4) shows that our case, ‘2 Sturton Street’, will be the first of the ‘minor/other planning applications’ for consideration starting at 12.30 or after a thirty-minute lunch break. Venue: Guildhall Committee Room 1 and 2. The meeting is open to the public Deliberations might last an hour – then we shall know our fate.

But we fear not just the fate of  old ‘Sturton Town’. Why does this concern the rest of Petersfield? Because City Pub (East), plc is expanding, buying up property and developing it, adding links to their gastro-pub chain. A local proprietor has mooted in my presence that another corner site in Petersfield is being snapped up. It is not currently occupied by a public house, but neighbours of Live and Let Live and The Six Bells ought to be on guard. What happens in Sturton Street doesn’t stay in Sturton Street. It touches everyone in our city’s smallest and most densely populated ward.

James Moore, 6 Sturton Street

 

Only 1 week to do something about the Local Plan 2014!

Dear Councillors, planners, and civil servants:

1. More and more people live in the Petersfield area. Yet this area of Cambridge has the least public green open space per person in the entire City. This is even despite the inclusion of Fenners sports ground (not open to the general public) and the Mill Road Cemetery in calculations. While we value these sites and agree that they must be protected open spaces, we do NOT feel that they should be the basis for calculating our available public green open spaces. The only real area which qualifies as public green open space locally is St. Matthew’s Piece. The lack of public green open space is acknowledged in the Local Plan.

We therefore call upon the City and County Council to use the opportunity of the Local Plan to ensure a greener future for this area of Cambridge by committing to provide us with specific sites – viz., the Howard Mallett (HMC) site – for protected public open green space.

2. The Howard Mallett (HMC) was built on land given to local residents for rest & recreation in perpetuity. Yet the Local Plan aims to replace a chunk of that land with 3-storey residential or office buildings. Moreover, p. 200 (Policy 73) of the Local Plan states that:

Loss of facilities

The loss of a facility or site that was last in use as a community, sports or leisure facility will only be permitted if it is demonstrated that:

i. the facility/site can be replaced within the new development or relocated to at least its existing scale, range, quality and accessibility for its users.

For leisure uses, it should satisfy peak period need; or j. the facility/site is no longer needed.

So we strongly request that the former Howard Mallett Centre (HMC) which was our community, sports and leisure facility for this area, on our land, be either restored to its original use OR that in view of the desperate need for green open space in this area, the site be returned to protected public green open space, and the facility REPLACED AND RELOCATED nearby to at least its existing scale, range, and quality for this area, with consideration given to the fact that the residential density is now more than 4x what it was when the HMC was first built.

We completely oppose the proposal to replace the site with residential or office buildings as part of the “Opportunity Area for Major Change.” This designation MUST be changed, and the outline development for this site MUST be removed.

3. Point 2.19 of the Local Plan quotes the NPPF’s statement that “projected need cannot be considered in isolation, and that the constraints of an area form an important part of coming to a decision on if and how to meet need. These include

•Cambridge’s outstanding historic environment, which is of international, national and local significance;

• limited supply of available land, as well as conservation constraints”.

We agree. Hence, the constraints of this area include having reached its saturation point for student accommodation. It cannot cope with any further increase of student and other transient population accommodation if it is to retain any community cohesion.

The Local Plan claims to “set out the approach to protecting and enhancing the character of Cambridge, maintaining and improving an enviable quality of life and place” and to “creating strong, sustainable, cohesive and inclusive mixed-use communities.” We agree that this is vital. This is why we feel so strongly that such a community cannot be protected and enhanced if the ratio of students to permanent residents is skewed any further in this area.

ARU came into this area knowing that it is a densely populated residential area. With the complicity of the city planners, they have been following an aggressive expansion policy at the cost of local residents. The Local Plan allows ARU to earmark a minimum of an additional 6,000 sq m of this area for additional faculty space for its East Road Campus (paragraph 5.26) – and that’s on top of the 600 student dwellings ARU intends to add here within the next 18 months (as proclaimed in their own literature, and permitted within Table 2.1 of the Local Plan (ARU “require land for student hostels”).

We believe that this is wrong: if ARU want to expand they should do so elsewhere, NOT by carving up this crowded residential area. ARU have no right to unilaterally declare that they need to expand at the expense of the local community. We have been patient with them so far. But enough is enough.

We therefore require the Local Plan to STOP ANY FURTHER STUDENT development AND ARU expansion in the Petersfield area.

Hence we also demand that paragraph 5.27, which states that

“The East Road site and area remain the most sustainable location for Anglia Ruskin University during the next plan period, and any future needs for this institution should, in the first instance, be met close to this site.”

be removed. The East Road site and area is NOT the most sustainable location and must NOT be met close to this site: this community is at breaking point already. The needs of local residents, whose interests the City Council is duty-bound to represent and defend, must now finally be put before those of developers.

Furthermore, the provision of purpose-built student accommodation negatively impacts local families who are already struggling to afford to live in this area, by depriving them of a historical income stream. We have heard from numerous residents that they were only able to pay their mortgages because they rented out one of their rooms in their family home to students. Therefore, not only would purpose-built student accommodation further weaken students’ ties to the “normal” life of the local community (widening the town/gown divide and destroying community cohesiveness), but also puts further pressure on beleaguered residents by making it impossible for them to afford to live here. We have been copied into correspondence from one of ARU’s own students which clearly shows that the concern about ARU’s unbridled expansion and negative impact on the community is shared across the board.

4. The Local Plan repeatedly refers to the need for affordable housing and community facilities – yet the City Council’s track record in enforcing this (eg in the Station Road developments) is poor. We therefore strongly request that specifics be committed to within the Local Plan – including their enforcement within current developments such as the Station Road area. We find it unacceptable that developers are being allowed to “ignore” their legal requirements for minimum open space, community facilities, and affordable housing. This problem needs to be addressed and redressed BEFORE giving a green light to further developments.

5. The Mill Road Depot (MRD) site (site R.10 in the Local Plan): politicians promised it would include public green open space AND community facilities… yet the Local Plan still labels this site as suitable for 167 new dwellings: a density of 62 dwellings per hectare (dph). This is vastly higher density than other developments (eg Travis Perkins at 35 dph) and is out of keeping both with local densities (eg Sturton St 40dph) AND with government-recommended densities of 30dph for sustainable developments. Both historical precedent and the recent legislation prove that any numbers in the Local Plan become the minimum built. So 62dph would become the minimum in this site! Therefore the proposed density for the MRD site must be at least HALVED. Kindly do not fob us off with promises that density can be debated and resolved at a later date: this is simply untrue.

We also heard recently that open space and community facilities are not guaranteed in the site – despite the LEGAL obligation for their provision.

We find this wholly unacceptable.

Appendix I.11 of the Local Plan proposal itself states that standards for FULL provision of open space – including outdoor sports facilities, provision for children and teenagers, informal open space, and indoor sports facilities – are compulsory and “applicable to all new residential units created as a result of development, regardless of whether they result from new-build or conversions.” Clearly therefore, such provision must not be sidelined as merely optional. It is only the maintenance of open spaces which may be in part funded by S106 monies (Appendix I.14). NOT the provision of open spaces itself. Therefore provision cannot be made optional and conditional upon S106 contributions. The catchment areas for this provision is set (in your own Local Plan draft) as ranging between every 60 metres for Local Play Areas (LAP) to 600 metres for Youth Space and Neighbourhood Equipped Landscaped Areas for Play (NEAPs) – all of which are therefore clearly essential for a site as large as the Mill Road Depot. This is supported by paragraph I.17 of your appendix, which states that

“Sites that generate demand for children’s playspaces in areas of identified need should maximise on-site provision. Similarly, development sites inwards with above average ward population densities should maximise on-site provision.”

Further:

a. Access should ONLY be via Mill Road, not Hooper Street.

b. A specific and stated proportion should be dedicated to green open space in this development rather than the current vague promise of including “some.” We have ample evidence that such vagueness is open to avoidance by developers, and the provision of the promised facilities never ever enforced.

c. Community facilities must be similarly specified and guaranteed.

We also believe that the MRD site should be developed by residents for residents, NOT by developers for maximum profit and density. It could be made a flagship car-free development, with monies from the developers subsidising local bus tickets to ensure that residents are encouraged to use public transport. We believe that there may also be a conflict of interest for the Council as being both the owners and developers.

d. The trees and space next to Mill Road bridge should be retained along with the library.

e. The garages to the south of Hooper Street should be retained: this area is already too short of parking spaces.

f. the provision of a cycle route from Hooper Street to Mill Road must be specifically incorporated and included in any MRD site proposal

7. Similar concerns apply to the proposals for the Ridgeons site: inappropriate density, no provision for the elderly, insufficient provision of affordable or family housing, lack of proper green public open space, and inadequate access.

8. Hotels. No further hotel developments should be permitted in this area – those on the corner of Coldham’s Lane/Newmarket Road are unattractive and have grossly insufficient car parking. This is already overwhelming local streets and residents’ car parking. Any further hotels should be sited in industrial areas eg., close to the airport.

9. We are concerned by the wording in Policy 22 that “The character of the area will be enhanced by creating a block structure and developing building forms which moderate the scale and massing of new development in a manner that is responsive to their context and reflecting the finer urban grain of the area.” What exactly does this mean? We require clarification – and power of veto. By residents, not only by developers. The fact that the recent Travelodge by the Leisure Park is hailed by your planning department and the professionals whom you have consulted as “the most beautiful building in Cambridge” gives us deep concern about the carbuncles hidden within Policy 22.

10. We are pleased that the Chisholm Trail has been incorporated into the Local Plan. However, we feel that the wording and the guarantees need to be tightened, including specific guarantees that a cycle route between Hooper St and Mill Road will be provided as a fundamental component of any MRD development. We also request that specifics – eg egress from the various side streets such as Ainsworth Street, and measures to counterbalance increased pressure on residential parking (eg where parking spaces are removed to permit bicycle traffic flow) – be clarified and incorporated.

And finally,

11. With all the development schemes squeezed into the Local Plan, we are concerned by the lack of provision of everything that would need to accompany such influx: eg medical and educational services, vehicular impact, road usage. Cambridge is already struggling to cope in all these realms. Public transport is becoming too expensive for many people, and evermore erratic both in frequency and punctuality, while bus stops are increasingly being removed, stranding those with mobility challenges. Schools and medical centres lack resources… yet far from addressing these issues, the Local Plan merely intends to exacerbate them.

The Local Plan has the rare opportunity to map out great good and inspirational vision for the future. But as it currently stands, the draft of the Local Plan appears to us to be an ill-conceived plunge into irreparable catastrophe and destruction of much that makes Cambridge great and attractive to residents. It appears to be a blueprint for developers’ ambitions, with insufficient accountability or responsibility for the city which it is supposed to serve. We feel that drastic changes need to be made to it before it is fit to be published as the blueprint for the next 18 years.

A public consultation requires that residents’ views are given as much, or more, weight than those of developers. Otherwise, far from being a democratic mandate, it becomes a mere mockery of the views of those it claims to serve.

We therefore very much hope that this consultation IS deserving of the name. Thank you for your attention.

For and on behalf of Petersfield Area Community Trust,

Yours sincerely,

Calling all!

Dear All… As you know, the proposed Local Plan is attempting to slip a number of deeply concerning plans into what essentially will become law. Residents’ letters and emails about the most worrying of these local Local Plan intentions have succeeded in getting the attention of both our MP and the local press.

SO we’ve just heard from Cambridge News (CEN).

They’re sending a photographer for 5:30pm TOMORROW (Tuesday 10th), meeting at the Howard Mallett site, to take pictures of anyone concerned about those intentions. If you believe that the Howard Mallett site should not be carved up for office/residential development, or are concerned about other Local Plan intentions, then please please please join us there…

The more people we can muster for the photograph, the more powerful our message. The reverse is also true: if no-one turns up, the Council can simply shrug and dismiss our concerns and objections.
CAN YOU JOIN US?

Please come. Bring your families, your friends, your neighbours, your colleagues, random strangers… 
Aim for everyone to BE THERE BY 5:25pm …

Thank you. See you 5:25pm tomorrow?

Cambridge Local Plan – get your views in

Residents of Petersfield ward – we have just five weeks left to comment upon, and insist on change, to the Cambridge Local Plan before it becomes set in stone and LEGAL carte blanche for developers until 2031. The deadline is 5pm on 30 September 2013. The Government recently passed legislation saying that any Local Plan becomes the MINIMUM developers are allowed to do! The Local Plan boasts that it is overseeing a change in levels of planned growth unmatched since the interwar years: but we are deeply disturbed by the resulting impact on our area, and by the lack of real democratic support or mandate, or accountability. The Local Plan is available for you to view online or (theoretically, but NOT in practice!) at Mandela House.

Below, and in the attached PDF and Word document, are some of the issues PACT feels most concerned about relating to this area. If you agree, then THERE IS NO TIME TO LOSE: please email/write to the addresses below with your concerns. Alternatively, add your details to the letter below, & write “I AGREE” on it before signing and sending.

Send your comments:
By email: policysurveys@cambridge.gov.uk
By phone: 01223 457000
By post: Draft Local Plan Consultation, Planning Policy, Cambridge City Council, PO Box 700, Cambridge, CB1 0JH

Please copy them to:
Our councillors:
sarah.brown@cambridge.gov.uk; gail.marchant-daisley@cambridge.gov.uk; kevin.blencowe@gmail.com; ashley.walsh@cambridgeshire.gov.uk
Our reporters:
chris.havergal@cambridge-news.co.uk; emily.nice@cambridge-news.co.uk; lucy.ross-millar@cambridge-news.co.uk, Adam.Luke@cambridge-news.co.uk
Our public servants:
ian.dyer@cambridgeshire.gov.uk, patsy.dell@cambridge.gov.uk, sara.saunders@cambridge.gov.uk, tim.wetherfield@cambridge.gov.uk
as well as our MP: Julian Huppert julianhuppertmp@gmail.com,
and PACT at info@PACTcambridge.org

Dear Councillors, planners, and civil servants:

1. More and more people live in the Petersfield area. Yet this area of Cambridge has the LEAST public green open space per person in the entire City. This is even despite the inclusion of Fenners sports ground (NOT open to the general public, nor available for general open air activities such as picnics, ball games etc) & the cemetery in calculations. While we value these sites and agree that they must be protected open spaces, we do NOT feel that they should be the basis for calculating our available public green open spaces. The only real area which qualifies as public green open space locally is St.Matthew’s Piece.

We therefore call upon the City and County Council to use the opportunity of the Local Plan to ensure a greener future for this area of Cambridge by committing to provide us with specific sites – viz., the Howard Mallett (HMC) site – for protected public open green space.

2. The Howard Mallett (HMC) was built on land given to US – local residents – for rest & recreation IN PERPETUITY. That means for ever and ever. To you and me. Our children. Our children’s children… Yet the Local Plan aims to replace a chunk of that land with 3-storey residential or office buildings. Moreover, p.200 (Policy 73) of the Local Plan states that:
Loss of facilities
The loss of a facility or site that was last in use as a community, sports or leisure facility will only be permitted if it is demonstrated that:
i. the facility/site can be replaced within the new development or relocated to at least its existing scale, range, quality and accessibility for its users.
For leisure uses, it should satisfy peak period need; or j. the facility/site is no longer needed.
So we request & require that the former Howard Mallett Centre (HMC) which was our community, sports & leisure facility for this area, on our land, be EITHER restored to its original use OR that, in view of the desperate need for green open space in this area, the site be returned to protected public green open space, and the facility REPLACED AND RELOCATED nearby to at least its existing scale, range, and quality for this area, with consideration given to the fact that the residential density is more than 4x what it was when the HMC was first built.

We therefore fundamentally and utterly oppose the proposal to replace the site with residential or office buildings as part of the “Opportunity Area for Major Change.” This designation MUST therefore be changed.

3. Just because your neighbour declared that they needed to expand, would that give them the automatic right to take your house and garden? No? Well, the Local Plan allows ARU to grab an additional 6,000 sq m (yes. 6000m²!) of this area for additional faculty space for its East Road Campus – and that’s on top of the 600 student dwellings ARU intends to add here within the next 18 months. We believe that this is wrong: if they want to expand they should do so elsewhere, NOT by carving up this crowded residential area just because they want to.

We therefore require the Local Plan to STOP ANY FURTHER STUDENT development AND ARU expansion in the Petersfield area. Enough is enough!

4. The Local Plan repeatedly refers to the need for affordable housing and community
facilities – yet the City Council’s track record in enforcing this (e.g. in the Station Road
developments) is exceedingly poor. We therefore request and require that specifics be
committed to within the Local Plan – including their enforcement within current developments such as the Station Road area. We find it scandalous and unacceptable that developers are being allowed to “ignore” their way out of their LEGAL REQUIREMENTS for minimum open space, community facilities, and affordable housing. Therefore this needs to be addressed and redressed BEFORE giving a green light to further developments.

5. The Mill Road Depot (MRD) site (site R.10 in the Local Plan): politicians promised it would include public green open space AND community facilities… yet the Local Plan STILL labels this site as suitable for 167 new dwellings: a density of 62 dwellings per hectare (dph). This is vastly higher density than other developments (e.g. Travis Perkins at 35 dph) and is out of keeping both with local densities (e.g. Sturton St 40dph) AND with government-recommended densities of 30dph for sustainable developments. Remember the new law which says that any numbers in the Local Plan become the MINIMUM built? So 62dph would become the MINIMUM in this site! We also heard today that open space & community facilities are NOT guaranteed in the site – despite the LEGAL obligation to do so.
We find this UNACCEPTABLE.
Further:
a.    Access should ONLY be via Mill Road, not Hooper Street.
b.    A specific and stated proportion should be dedicated to green open space in this development rather than the current vague promise of including “some”
c.    Community facilities must be similarly specified and guaranteed
We also believe that the MRD site should be developed by residents for residents, NOT by developers for maximum profit and density. It could be made a flagship car-free development, with monies from the developers subsidising local bus tickets to ensure that residents are encouraged to use public transport. We believe that there may also be a conflict of interest for the Council as being both the owners and developers.
d.    The trees & space next to Mill Rd bridge should be retained along with the library.
e.    The garages to the south of Hooper St should be retained: this area is already too short of parking spaces.

7. Hotels. No further hotel developments should be permitted in this area – those on the corner of Coldham’s Lane/Newmarket Road are unattractive and have grossly insufficient car parking. This is already overwhelming local streets and residents’ car parking. Any further hotels should be sited in industrial areas e.g., close to the airport.

8. We are concerned by the wording in Policy 22 that “The character of the area will be enhanced by creating a block structure and developing building forms which moderate the scale and massing of new development in a manner that is responsive to their context and reflecting the finer urban grain of the area.” What EXACTLY does this mean? We require clarification – and power of veto. By residents, not only by developers.
Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

End of an era at the Man on the Moon?

The Man on the Moon, at 2 Norfolk Street, has been a popular pub and music venue in Petersfield for years – music magazine Drowned in Sound has called it “less-than-salubrious, yet fondly regarded”. The pub was taken over by John Nixon in July 2000, after he had been landlord at the White Hart (now the Backstreet Bistro). The pub was formerly owned by Pubmaster and then Punch Taverns.

Man on the Moon pub

Rumours around the future of the pub had been circulating: CAMRA thought it was shut already on 4 June, and on 7 June the news was confirmed – the new lease owners have given John notice to leave by October. John says he was in the process of applying to buy the lease of the pub himself when he was gazumped. John says on the website:
“Some of you may have heard the rumours flying around about the MOTM and I can sadly say they are true. Despite a 9 month long legal battle with greedy property developers & Punch Taverns, the Man on the Moon has been lost, and the doors will close for the last time on Oct 1st. The Moon will leave a hole in the local music scene that badly needs to be filled, We will be back, this time Bigger and Better!! We would like to thank everyone that has played at the Moon and made the past 13 years amazing! Especially Last Gang In Town, Dawn Kelly, Kelly Allen, Bruno Gonçalves, Will Smithe and Lex O’Farrell, thanks for all your hard work!!”

The landlord of the Alexandra Arms, Craig Bickley, says the owner is Beechwood Property (probably meaning Beechwood Estates), and they are planning to improve the pub. Beechwood Estates, also known as Bennell Developments, previously turned the Jubilee pub into houses, and bought the Royal Standard & tried to turn it into houses without success. Despite this history, property consultants Everard Cole told the Cambridge News that “Rumours that the pub will become student flats are simply untrue. The pub may close for a few weeks or months but will reopen as a pub and will remain so in the long term.” They also said on Twitter: “Man on the Moon, Cambridge. New FOT [free of ties] lease offered; experienced operator sought. Full details to follow shortly.”

Cambridge News reported last July that the city council owned the pub, and Cllr Colin Rosenstiel confirmed that “The future of this pub is firmer than most because [Cambridge City Council] owns freehold, on 99 year lease from 1963 for pub use only.” Cambridge City Council, in the ‘Interim Planning Policy Guidance on The Protection of Public Houses in the City of Cambridge‘ (IPPG) of October 2012, lays out criteria before a pub can be lost and classes the Man on the Moon as a “Pub Site within edge of city clusters providing an important city wide economic and local community function”. Regarding any plans for the car park, the IPPG says: “When considering proposals for the development of car parking areas, the Council will require evidence that this will not undermine the viability of the pub, especially in the outer suburbs or village areas or site adjacent to main roads.” Building on the car park is not an option while the pub remains.

The pub has long been part of the Petersfield community. Simon_K on Flickr says of the early days of the pub, “In 1959, work began along East Road on central Cambridge’s first major slum redevelopment. Completed in 1969, with the final addition of the Man on the Moon public house, the scheme was designed as a fresh start, a comprehensive development of two, three and four storey interconnected blocks of flats, maisonettes and houses. The architects were David Roberts & Geoffrey Clarke for the City of Cambridge Housing Dept.”

The landlord before John was Mary Reid, who left in June 1996 to run the Royal Standard. She ran folk nights, which then moved to the Portland Arms. It was refurbished and briefly called The Office from 1998-2000, before John took over and changed the name back.

Although some local residents have had issues with late-night music and drinking, this will be a loss to the Cambridge music scene. Among the tributes and laments, Cllr Richard Johnson said “It will be a shame if Man on the Moon turns into another upmarket gastropub. Camb[ridge] needs pubs & clubs with character”.

John has been generous to the local community, for example letting PACT use his venue for our Summer Events – most recently for our carnival costume workshops. We believe that the Man on the Moon must remain as a pub, and we hope that the new lease owners are sincere in this intention and that the new landlord will keep it as a music venue and asset to the community.

Anglia Ruskin consult on New Street / St Matthew’s Street junction

The local university, Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), is building on the site between Young Street and New Street – formerly the site of the Ragged School and CRC – for their Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education. The designs of the Young Street campus can be seen here and here.

Young Street, Cambridge

View down Young Street, with the ARU development on the right with the Crown Court behind

As part of the development, ARU need to make improvements to New Street and the junction with St Matthew’s Street (next to the Crown Court). A map of the plans is here (pdf). They plan to:

  • Replace the existing mini-roundabout with a raised T-junction, from June until September 2013
  • Introduce planting and upgrade the parking bays, in early 2015 after the Young Street campus is complete

They are holding a consultation with local residents and businesses on these plans on Saturday 18 May 2013, 2-4 pm, at St Matthew’s Church Hall on St Matthew’s Street. Plans are also on display in ARU’s Helmore Building, East Road, until 31 May. They will then finalise plans with the County Council.

More details are on their website, and you can comment by emailing newspaces@anglia.ac.uk or phoning Paula Langton of ARU’s Estates and Facilities Services on 0845 196 4666.

Victorian buildings on Wilton Terrace under threat

Cambridge News reported Wilton Terrace, built in 1885 on Station Road, was “saved from the bulldozers” just this March (it’s just outside Petersfield, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care). But the developers have appealed! Now Friends of Wilton Terrace need your help before 8 May.

Wilton Terrace on Station Road, by Hugh Venables

Wilton Terrace on Station Road
Victorian terrace on the edge of the CB1 development. © Copyright Hugh Venables and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

They say: “The Friends of Wilton Terrace have fought a long campaign to create a balanced development in Station Road. Developers promised a new Heritage Centre and other community facilities but now claim that they cannot afford anything but office blocks, with minimal open space. They are now intent on demolishing Wilton Terrace, Station Road, despite opposition from the City Council. Retaining these buildings would enhance the character of the area and provide a visual link between the Victorian houses at the approach to Station Road and the Railway Station. A visit to the new King’s Cross development shows how an imaginative developer can integrate old and new buildings. Cannot the ‘gateway to Cambridge’ match this? The City Council refused the application to demolish this terrace, but the developers are appealing to the Planning Inspectorate. If you are concerned, please comment.
The Friends of Wilton Terrace welcome help and support: 30 Lyndwode Road, Cambridge CB1 2HN; Wilton.Terrace@gmail.com”

More details on We Are All Neighbours.

PACT’s response to the Cambridge Local Plan

Cambridge City Council recently consulted local residents on the council’s Local Plan, ending on the 18th February. The consultation included plans for development of residential sites within Cambridge. Petersfield Area Community Trust submitted a representation, which is copied below.

Cambridge Local Plan: towards 2031

Dear Councillors and Planning Officers, City Council and County Council,

On behalf of local residents, we are writing to request that you take formal note of our comments.

As you are aware, both from recent East Area Committee meetings, and from dialogue with PACT (Petersfield Area Community Trust) and other residents, we feel strongly that the Local Plan should take into consideration historical inequalities whereby S106 monies gleaned from developments in this area have been diverted to other districts of Cambridge; and make restitution.

This includes restoring the Howard Mallett site to open green space (on the land granted in perpetuity to local residents for rest and recreation), for which planning approval was granted; creating more green open space; tackling (rather than exacerbating!) the dire traffic and parking challenges, and creating a community centre facility to replace the one “lost” as a result of the questionable deal with CityLife/FutureBusiness/Allia.

PACT is moreover deeply concerned that the extensive Eastern Gate Development Framework has not been taken into consideration in the Local Plan. This goes against both what the local area was assured when the Framework was created, and what you claim on your website. It has been ignored in recent planning applications such as the motels on the corner of Coldham’s Lane, and has clearly not been incorporated in the Local Plan. PACT therefore formally requests that this be corrected.

Of enormous local concern is also the forthcoming development of the Mill Road Depot site. The Local Plan’s suggestion that 167 dwellings be shoehorned into that site is unacceptable overdevelopment. Similarly, PACT feels that the Local Plan’s proposal to remove vital garages/parking areas in Hooper Street, and closing off the Mill Road access to the site, is also ill-conceived and unacceptable, creating major issues for the capillary backstreets (eg., Hooper, Sturton, and York Streets) which are already overburdened.

PACT supports the redevelopment of the site, but only if it is done sensitively and ethically and within the character of the Petersfield Conservation Area.

PACT therefore supports the proposals of the Argyle Street Housing Cooperative that the Mill Road Depot site be used to create another Housing Cooperative – dwellings by local people for local people, including families and single people – with proper provision of green open space and community facilities. Care must also be taken to ensure that multiple exits to the site will not create a rat run for drivers keen to take shortcuts.

PACT therefore requests that :
1) the Howard Mallett / FutureBusiness site be restored to green open space and/or a community centre
2) the Eastern Gate Development Framework be respected and incorporated.
3) that the Mill Road Depot site be developed as a Housing Cooperative, as proposed by the Argyle Street Housing Cooperative group, complete with sustainable number of dwellings, open green space, and community facilities, and
4) that access to the said site continue to be primarily via Mill Road, NOT via the overburdened streets round the back.

We look forward to hearing from you, and to seeing our deep concerns respected and incorporated into a revised version of the Local Plan.

Yours sincerely,

PACT (Petersfield Area Comunity Trust)

Local Plan consultation

In Petersfield, Mill Road Depot off Kingston Street and the Travis Perkins site off Devonshire Road may be turned into housing as part of Cambridge City Council’s Local Plan.

Have your say about what is going to happen to the area. Apparently the consultation has been open for six weeks, but the council failed to send the letters out until last week. Anyone who wants to have a look and express an opinion must do so by Monday 18th February 2013. Not much time left!

For full details of site options within Cambridge see: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/sites/www.cambridge.gov.uk/files/documents/issues-and-options-2-part-2.pdf  (Petersfield features on p43-46)

The final two exhibitions are not in our area, and nor were any of the others! Here are the dates/times/venues:

Please attend if you can.