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:

Respond to the survey here:

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.