Write to the Executive Board members of the City Deal before the City Deal board meeting on Thursday 13 October to protest against the proposed route for the Cambourne to Cambridge busway:
Lewis Herbert (Cambridge City Council): firstname.lastname@example.org
Francis Burkitt (south Cambridgeshire District Council): email@example.com
Ian Bates (Cambridgeshire County Council): firstname.lastname@example.org
CAMBOURNE TO CAMBRIDGE BUS CORRIDOR
URGENT ACTION NEEDED BY RESIDENTS
BEFORE THE CITY DEAL BOARD MEETING ON 13 OCTOBER 2016
As you probably know, there is a proposal to build an off-road busway between Madingley Mulch Roundabout and Grange Road. The Preferred Option (now called 3A) has just been announced, and the recommended alignment is South of Madingley Road.
The recommended route will cut across green belt land with National Trust covenants in Coton, then through the century-old Coton Orchard, before potentially cutting through the West Fields, possibly as far as the Bin Brook, to its destination of Grange Road. A Park and Ride, as big as that at Trumpington, will be sited on the slope North of Coton, and will dominate the village day and night. This scheme will cause extensive and irreversible harm to local communities, wildlife and the landscape of West Cambridge, and may well lead to extensive further development. More information is available on the Cambridge City Deal Website (www.gccitydeal.co.uk).
I am writing to you as Chair of the Local Liaison Forum* because I want to share critical information on this proposal with you whilst there is still time to object.
*The Local Liaison Forum is the statutory body set up to provide recommendations and feedback to Officers working on this scheme. It comprises local councillors and local residents’ associations from West Cambridge and South Cambs.
The Local Liaison Forum (LLF) strongly objects to the recommended option, and has already communicated its views in public to the City Deal Joint Assembly:
1. The LLF cannot support any scheme that includes the West Fields**, the Coton Countryside Reserve and the Coton Orchard.
**The West Fields: the green corridor of countryside between Barton Road and the Coton footpath that runs over the Bin Brook to the back of the Cambridge University Rugby Club in Grange Road, bringing farmland close to the historic core.
2. The scheme should not have been chosen as it fails 3 out of 4 of its own evaluation criteria. It is the most expensive option (£57 million more than alternative schemes); it represents the poorest value for money; it impacts negatively on the most people; it is the most environmentally damaging, and was by far the most unpopular with local people.
3. The proposed position of the Park and Ride is totally unacceptable. Cambridge Past, Present & Future has publicly stated that City Deal will be rightly accused of “environmental vandalism”.
4. We believe it would be feasible to route the busway down Madingley Rise (the hill west of the M11) and have requested a full topographical survey.
5. LLF members are concerned that Cambridge University is influencing the route decision on commercial grounds, whilst promoting to the Local Inspector large scale housing development on its land along the route. We ask the University to step down from the Executive Board whilst decisions on this scheme are taken, as there is a serious conflict of interest.
Action: If you feel strongly about any/ all of the above points, I urge residents of West Cambridge and QTSQ (Quarter to Six Quadrant) villages to email the Board decision makers before the 13th October. On that date, the Executive Board will meet, potentially to approve or amend the scheme, and it is essential that objections are voiced in advance. Please join the LLF in opposing the routing of this busway through such sensitive environmental areas.
Please email all three voting Board members with your views:
Lewis Herbert (email@example.com) of Cambridge City Council
Francis Burkitt (firstname.lastname@example.org) of South Cambridgeshire District Council
Ian Bates (ian.Bates@cambridgeshire.gov.uk ) of Cambridgeshire County Council
Helen Bradbury, Chair, A428 Local Liaison Forum & Coton Parish Councillor
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROTECTING THE COTON CORRIDOR HAS BEEN ENDORSED BY THE HIGH COURT, THE LOCAL PLAN AND LANDSCAPE EXPERTS.
1. THE HIGH COURT
The High Court in 2008 prevented development of an urban extension of over 3,500 houses between Barton Road and the West Cambridge Site mainly because of the Coton Corridor’s importance to the green belt and to Cambridge as a historic city.
“The Coton Corridor…brings countryside right into the heart of the city…Narrowing the Coton corridor…would render it almost meaningless as ‘countryside’…development in this location would conflict with the purpose of preserving the unique character of the city”.
Consent was also refused on the grounds that the site was not sufficiently sustainable as it lacks a public transport corridor. Currently, Cambridge University and colleges are challenging the Local Plan, and are including two new busways, right through the middle of the West Fields (both Orbital and Cambourne to Cambridge) as grounds for being allowed to proceed with large scale housing development.
2. CURRENT LOCAL PLAN AND 2015 INNER GREEN BELT REVIEW
The democratic Local Plan involved extensive consultation with experts and communities and concluded that the Coton Corridor is critical for preserving the historic city and should be heavily protected. Rod Cantrill, Councillor for Newnham, specifically objected at the LLF meeting to the lack of “joined up thinking” between the Cambridge City Deal and the Local Plan. In 2015, the three Councils appointed LDA Design, Landscape specialists, to give views on the significance of different areas for the historic city. They concluded:
“West of the city, Inner Green Belt plays a critical role in maintaining the impression of a compact city, with countryside close to the historic core. The rural character of the land emphasises this and is seen as the foreground in views from approaches to the city, the M11 and the countryside west of the M11…Green corridors into the city have long been accepted as a key component of its character. It is very important that these green corridors are preserved”.
“The rural setting of Cambridge is of great significance within the immediate vicinity of the city. It is here that the rural landscape should be most strongly preserved or opportunities taken to restore or enhance the rural character…The rural landscape setting is especially apparent in the area West of the city, where the presence of agricultural land immediately adjacent to distinctive townscape areas and extending into the city close to the historic core is particularly important”.
“On the West side of the city, agricultural land south of the West Cambridge site forms one of the closest areas of countryside to the historic core. A green corridor extends into the urban area as far as the University Rugby club on Grange Road. It emphasises the proximity of the Grange Road area, part of the distinctive core of the city to the countryside…makes a unique contribution to the setting of the city”.
3. THE GREEN CORRIDOR CLOSEST TO THE HISTORIC CITY FACES DEVASTATION
Current busway proposals would place a vast illuminated Park and Ride above Coton; would cause irreparable harm to National Trust land; would ruin the century-old Coton Orchard, and then would compromise the ‘green lung’ closest to the historic core of Cambridge. The Officers have chosen to ignore the extensive wildlife, landscape and planning evidence supplied to them.
Please join us in writing to the City Deal Board before Oct 13th to reject a scheme that may cause huge environmental damage to a critical landscape for historic Cambridge.