Sam Davies

Disappointing and dysfunctional

This week, I’m going to direct you to a couple of great blogs by local historian and politics commentator, Antony Carpen, which together make an informative pair.

The first responds to a couple of letters published in the Cambridge Independent this week. The letter writers are clearly disaffected with many aspects of the city’s evolution and lay out their own thoughts on how it could be improved. Antony explains how our complex and confused local government arrangements make it difficult or indeed impossible to bring about the improvements that are suggested.

The second talks about the current state of play for proposed developments at the Cherry Hinton Lakes site (Coldham’s Lane) and the Grafton. It challenges the developers to respond to public requests for them to do better on critical issues such as design and transport.

Taken together, they sum up exactly why Greater Cambridge’s rush for growth is leading to such disappointing and dysfunctional outcomes. The idea that the transport needs of a new science park employing thousands of staff can be met by “commuter shuttle buses from the Newmarket Road Park and Ride site” is laughable, but either the developers think they have a chance of getting away with it or they simply don’t have a credible alternative. Both possibilities are concerning. We should be very grateful that Antony is documenting the city’s trajectory in such painstaking detail.

  1. How much ability does the City of Cambridge have to solve its own problems? A point-by-point analysis
  2. Cherry Hinton residents grill new land owners of Coldham’s Lane site – and credit to them for doing so at short notice

Sam Davies


  • Most of us as long-term residents of Cambridge cannot accept that the perceived wisdom of local Government is just to let more and more houses to be built(and not at truly affordable prices) and not think for moment how our I frastructure eg gp practices Addenbrookes or road network will be able to cope going forward 30 years without a properly thought out Master plan

  • Having moved to Cambridge from Berlin in 2018/19 it is fascinating to see how they approach development on small and large scale Engaging with existing residents, future residents, community groups alongside predicted changes in population, all working with developers and business recognising to have an effective place to live benefits global business success, in not just the short but the long term too

    Found your piece fascinating Steve

  • I am currently in Dallas and taken out time to read your article. Dallas is not like the Ewings TV programme of the 80’s but an urban sprawl, different to the UK but a potential model for the future of Cambridge. Dallas has a rail system that extends from the center of the city to the suburbs. Only 12 dollars a day maximum for unlimited travel for 24 hours including the airport. Much less for those commuting on single trips. Despite the well used rail service the primary means of transport remains the car.

    The center of the city is tower blocks, the suburbs are standard boring offices, commercial centers and housing. No shortage of building sites to erect ever more properties.

    There is a large biomed zone in the suburbs and corporate and research parks without limits. A rich city with objectives similar to cambridge. Not a place to live unless you are working for one of the corporates or enjoy clogged up roads and urban sprawl.

  • Sam – I have skim-read all of the “papers” and the corresponding observations / comments, etc – a bit tedious but still, although your work (as ever) makes for compelling reading

    It appears that what is being asked for is a little (or a huge amount of) local democracy and joined-up thinking on these proposals and the future of our (once beautiful) City; a little advice if I may be so bold

    “Don’t hold your breath”