We are delighted that the Greater Cambridge Partnership is considering progressing three or four pilot sites for travel hubs (Oakington, Whittlesford, Foxton and possibly Sawston). However we’re not impressed by what their consultants, Skanska, have proposed.
Whittlesford has a neglected station with poor access. Upgraded to ‘Parkway’ status in 2007, it still lacks basic facilities like toilets or a bridge between the platforms suitable for people with limited mobility. As a transport interchange it lacks even a bus shelter and turn-around; and there’s not nearly enough cycle parking.
The Imperial War Museum Duxford welcomes 370,000 visitors a year (plus nearly 1,000 staff, partners and volunteers work on the site). It’s 1.5 miles from Whittlesford station – about the same distance as Cambridge United football stadium from Cambridge station, which many fans walk on match days. Could thousands of Air Show visitors walk from the station? No, because the path is too narrow and the M11 slip ramp crossings too dangerous.
The County Council claims to have completed a cycleway to Granta Park. Cycling east from the station, the path is OK if you’re confident. After negotiating the terrifying ‘McDonalds’ roundabout, the path improves, though let down by crossings of widely splayed junctions. But then you reach the turn-off to Granta Park: the cycleway ends, tipping you onto the main carriageway to mix with high-speed traffic on a blind bend. Truly deserving of an evil genius award.
So what have Skanska offered as a remedy?
They’ve identified a field 650m (5-10 minute walk) west of Whittlesford station and drawn a plan of a 208-space car park. That’s it: nothing for people who need or want to walk, cycle or take the bus to or from the station; and no amenity for the local community, other than displacing commuter parking out of Whittlesford.
There is however a plan afoot to ‘masterplan’ the area. That’s good – so long as it employs the best spatial and transport designers to pull together local knowledge and past studies, with the creative freedom to explore all ideas, from simple fixes to the radically innovative.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 24 January 2018.