Sam Davies

Bits and pieces

This blog was written before today’s announcement in the Sunday Times that the government is proposing to build more than 200,000 houses in and around Cambridge by 2040. Details are scarce at the moment, but this clearly makes all of the discussion around the next Local Plan and the GCP’s STZ proposals completely irrelevant, and highlights the futility of trying to develop locally democratic approaches to the problems which this city already faces. On that basis, read on …

GCP plans for Addenbrooke’s roundabout redesign

I recently attended an online briefing on this project, together with a handful of residents. I seem to remember that the session was recorded, but I can’t see any link to it on the GCP YouTube channel as yet. The focus of the works is on the Fendon Road quadrant of the roundabout and they will affect the journeys of everyone travelling through that junction, regardless of whether they are on foot, cycling, on public transport or a private motorist.

If you look at the consultation plans, you will see that the approach to the roundabout on Fendon Road is being reduced to a single lane (with hashed overflow for emergency vehicles) and that the pedestrian refuge at the mouth of the junction will be reduced or even removed, on the assumption that pedestrians will be willing to walk down and wait to use the signalled crossing. There is also a proposal to put in a single phase crossing (replacing the current two phase) on the Babraham Road approach. I asked what the modelling showed about any delays to vehicles, particularly Citi1 buses (Fendon Road) and Park&Ride (Babraham Road), if  traffic queues on these routes increase. Apparently this has yet to be finalised.

I’ve already had representations from both pedestrians and cyclists who are unhappy about what’s being proposed. The consultation is open till 24th July, please do contribute your views.

Development site on Babraham Road

As long-time readers will be aware, the land removed from the Green Belt in the 2018 Local Plan (allocations ‘GB1’ and ‘GB2’) has been slowly progressing through the planning system. The southern half of GB2, now christened ‘Eddeva Park’ by developers This Land received final planning approval this week and work is due to start on 80 homes there ‘immediately’. If you are interested in finding out more about This Land, which is wholly-owned by the County Council, local journalist John Elworthy published a very helpful summary of its financial arrangements this week.

Council 4-day working week experiment

You may have read that the Local Government Minister Lee Rowley has remonstrated with South Cambs District Council about the pilot programme it has put in place to move staff onto a four-day working week with compressed hours. This has a bearing on city residents because we have some shared services with SCDC (including planning and waste services) and city councillors this week voted to support the extension of the experiment to include our domestic rubbish collections.

This fracas brings into sharp focus the ludicrous nature of local government’s relationship with the centre. A government minister thinks it’s worth his time to veto a decision by a district council on how it manages its scarce resources; but it’s that same government which continues to cut funding in a manner which leaves local government with no choice but to make these kinds of operational changes. It’s also the dire state of local government funding arrangements which forces authorities to get involved in all manner of novel revenue generating schemes, such as This Land, some of which have gone spectacularly wrong. I’m sure the government would argue there’s some logic there somewhere but I struggle to see it.

Water usage

The debate about the region’s water security in the face of development pressures continues apace, with the Environment Agency having lodged objections to three major planning applications. Water companies and developers push back against the concerns, citing infrastructure upgrades and also that the increase in total demand can be offset by improved water efficiency by domestic users, citing a target of 80 litres per person per day. It is in this context that I read an article in the City Council’s Open Door publication (distributed to Council tenants and leaseholders) about a study recently undertaken to reduce water use in council homes. The study found that, on average, council homes consume around 170 litres of water per person per day and talks about the steps the council is taking to improve that performance. It says that, by contrast, a modern water-efficient home aims to consume no more than 110 litres per person per day. Getting from there to 80 litres a day will be a challenge, to put it mildly.

Anti-social behaviour…

I’m continuing to get reports of ASB in the south of the ward, including Nightingale Garden, outside the shops on Wulfstan Way and this week several cars with broken windows on Spalding Way. I am trying to get attention from the police and the Council’s ASB team to get on top of this before it becomes even more embedded, so please do report any relevant incidents via the police 101 or webchat services.

Again it comes back to competing for scarce resources – and if the true scale of the problem hasn’t been registered, then we won’t get adequate support to resolve it.

…and overgrown hedges

The combination of warm and wet weather is leading to a lot of hedge growth, some of which are then obstructing footpaths. Obviously we all have a duty to address this outside our own properties, however we also all know that not everyone acts on this as conscientiously they should.  At June’s South Area Committee, it was clarified that it is the County Council which has responsibility for enforcing hedge cutting, so please do report via its Highway Fault Reporting tool.

 

Sam Davies

5 comments

  • ‘Authorities’ know how to construct consultations that always support their original decisions. Minor changes may show that they have ‘listened’. In spite of a clear vote against the ‘congestion charge’ there is no public backing down because people want ‘better bus services’. The Fendon Roundabout went ahead because so many said they wanted a ‘safer roundabout’ – they may still be saying that. That build caused chaos for many months alleviated by the route through Nightingale Avenue. Its interchange with Hills Road was modified to accommodate buses. Nightingale Avenue has now been blocked with bricks. A more flexible camera recognition system was turned down. That closure adds greatly to the problems of access to Addenbrookes over many months if the very questionable changes to that roundabout go ahead. How many weeks of chaos will the changes to Addenbrookes roundabout take? What will be the increase to global warming? I would bet that consultation will not change the mindset of the roundabout planners until their loved ones get caught in the months of jams trying to get to hospital.

  • Sam. Thank you as always for rational and sometimes pithy commentary. Two comments: first on water, what are the leakage figures for the city and what priority is given, especially the underground ‘hidden’ leakage. Second on overgrown and potholed pavements, OK, personal gripe, the pavement on west side of addenbrookes road are in a very poor state. The cycle lane peters out at the ped crossing where cyclists ought to cross onto the wide track. But no. Many barrel on, even with trailers, scattering pedestrians in their wake. I saw two near misses last Thursday.

  • I fail to understand why they want to change the roundabout unless it is to squander their money. It works well as it is, with the flow going into both Addenbrookes and up the Hills Road. Jams happen at prime times but otherwise it functions, and there are adequate pedestrian crossing. If it ain’t, broke don’t mend it. I shudder to think of the chaos and queues which will result for many months – or even longer, remembering the nightmare of the Fendon Road “Dutch” one. The fumes and emissions which will fill the air make a mockery of any Green thoughts.

  • “extension of the experiment to include our domestic rubbish collections”

    Same pay for fewer days worked plus significant upfront costs, right? Has the council said what constitutes success or failure in this “experiment”?