I’d like to start with a brief update following on from my previous article on the GCP’s Sustainable Travel Zone proposals.
The consultation itself is now closed, having received a staggering 24,000 responses. The GCP will now be working their way through these, prior to publishing the results and suggested next steps forward in June. The public interest in this topic is huge and I expect it to continue to colour local political conversations over the coming months. The BBC is planning a televised debate on the subject and the Cambridge Independent is extending its excellent coverage of the issues.
My article here “In the end, it’s the wrong question” has now been read by over 6500 people on the website, and a version was featured in the Cambridge Independent. The article prompted many responses, both on the website and also by email. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and let me know their thoughts. The detailed and thoughtful input from residents has been a particularly notable feature of the last couple of months and sets a marker for the evidence underpinning the emerging Local Plan, as the process heads towards the publication of the draft proposals this autumn.
The value of Local Nature Reserves
I’d planned that my main focus this week would be on the consideration at last Wednesday’s Planning Committee of the application to build a new top floor, comprising three flats, above the existing Edeva Court (behind the Queen Edith’s pub on Wulfstan Way). This new floor would be built literally and metaphorically ‘over the heads’ of the 12 existing leaseholders, who unanimously object to this proposal and despite the fact they own around 80% of the value and square footage of the property.
However, that hearing has had to be rolled over to a future meeting because the first two items on Wednesday’s agenda were so contentious that they took up the full eight hours for which the committee sits.
So I will say more about the Edeva Court application in a future post, but having sat through a large part of Wednesday’s meeting waiting to speak on behalf of residents, it was great to hear councillors at the meeting speak out passionately on the value of Local Nature Reserves and the importance of meaningful consultation with those most affected by applications. Both of these are likely to be highly relevant in discussions about the future direction of our own neighbourhood, given the stated desire of the Biomedical Campus to expand further into the Green Belt, with likely impacts on the Ninewells nature reserve.
I’m currently working my way through the 850-page agenda for the Planning and Transport Scrutiny Committee this Tuesday evening. You might be interested to take a look at this, both for the update on objectively assessed need for housing which will form the basis of the emerging Local Plan (Item 6), and also for the unexcitingly-named Annual Monitoring Report (Item 5) which is actually an invaluable repository of data on all aspects of planning and development in Greater Cambridge over the last year.
Given the vast scale of consultants’ input and evidence underpinning both the transport and planning debates in Cambridge, the continued citizen scrutiny I mentioned earlier has a valuable contribution to make. If you have suggestions about what would make it easier for you to get involved, I’d love to hear from you.
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I picked up a few things on both the water resources item and also an embedded video on the planning issues for the planning & transport scrutiny meeting. https://cambridgetownowl.com/2023/01/04/table-your-public-questions-for-the-latest-council-meetings-on-the-greater-cambridge-emerging-local-plan-2031-40/ Also includes a guide on how to get your local MPs to write to ministers about what they are doing about our water crises – present and looming given the proposed developments.
Sam, another great update that continues to peel back the veil of how the Council really works.
It strikes me that it is utterly unreasonable to expect Councillors to read, understand and reflect on 850 pages of information in the space of only a few days in order to provide considered feedback and informed decision making. This would appear to be a huge flaw in the process of politics. How do you go about it?! Is this another reason why decision making can appear to be confusing or even sub-standard to those who aren’t directly involved?
Peter, that’s just one Scrutiny meeting . Sam does a whole lot more .
I think a lot of money is being wasted on digging up Nightingale Avenue and Luard Road for the road closures. The use of existing planters was perfectly serviceable for the next five years. What we need is road repairs and other priority works carried out.
County Council responsibility …