You may have spotted today’s announcement that Marshalls are proposing to relocate their operations, leaving their Cambridge Airport site ripe for redevelopment. This has potentially huge implications, both for Cambridge as a whole and for Queen Edith’s.
As I often mentioned during my recent council election campaign, Cambridge – and particularly our neighbourhood – faces two challenges:
- The rate and scale of growth;
- The lack of joined up thinking across the decision-making bodies responsible for housing, employment sites and transport infrastructure.
The Marshall’s move will prove the sternest test yet of the city’s appetite for, and ability to cope with, growth on a massive scale. Today’s press releases talk about potential for 12,000 houses on the Marshall’s site, which would be home to approximately 24,000 people. Add in the 5000 houses already in the pipeline for North East Cambridge (aka the Sewage Works), and you can see that those two developments alone could add at least 30,000 to the population of the city in a relatively short time frame. By way of comparison, the total city population in 2016 was only 134,000.
You may be wondering at this point where the Queen Edith’s connection comes in. Well, the Biomedical Campus is the largest employment site in the city and set to grow still further. So if the majority of new housing is in the north of the city (Eddington, Darwin Green, North East Cambridge, Northstowe and now the airport) but employment growth is in Queen Edith’s, the traffic pressure on cross-city routes will rise dramatically, as will the local authorities’ desperation for ‘solutions’. Two such ‘solutions’ proposed in the past have been:
- Bus lanes or other priority measures along the existing ring road – Fendon Road, Mowbray Road, Perne Road, Brooks Road and Barnwell Road;
- An outer ring road connecting Babraham Road to Cherry Hinton, cutting through or tunnelling under the Gogs.
There is a lot at stake for our community and we need to be paying attention and speaking up from the outset, otherwise decisions will be taken which pay no heed to the impact on us.