Smarter Cambridge Transport

Burnside Lakes: wrong place for a logistics hub

A planning application is in for redevelopment of the disused landfill pits between Cambridge and Cherry Hinton. In return for opening up the lakes and enhancing the ecology of the land west of the existing industrial units, the developer, Anderson Group, is proposing to build six large sheds on the land between the David Lloyd Health Club and the houses on the western edge of Cherry Hinton.

The main function proposed for those sheds is a “last mile logistics hub” – somewhere to transfer goods between large, diesel lorries (HGVs) and smaller, potentially electric and human-powered, vehicles to make local deliveries and collections.

Undoubtedly, this would benefit residents and visitors in the city centre. But what about people living on the routes that HGVs would use to reach Coldhams Lane?

Coming from the M11, the quickest route is via Trumpington and Queen Edith’s. From the A14 west or A428, it’s via Fen Ditton and Barnwell. From the A14 east, it’s via Cherry Hinton. The County Council has indicated that lorries should be routed via Barnwell Road rather than Cherry Hinton. However, that would only provide relief for Cherry Hinton and it’s unclear how it could be enforced.

There is an ideal location for a logistics hub: the Girton Interchange, where the M11, A14 and A428 converge. There are sixteen hectares of isolated and sterile land within the reconfigured junction that would make it a sustainable and operationally efficient location, ensuring HGVs would not need to enter the city at all.

Frustratingly, the Girton Interchange remains a blind spot for our local transport authorities, with Cllr Herbert in last week’s Cambridge Independent describing a transport hub there as “unfundable.”

If the Greater Cambridge Partnership were not so preoccupied with building busways, it could lead a public-private partnership to develop the site as a visitor transfer hub, coach and light rail station, logistics hub, and conference centre.

What about Burnside Lakes? Well, the Local Plan has a sensible suggestion: relocate builders’ merchants and similar businesses there to free up land that is better suited for housing, such as around Clifton Road.

This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 30 June 2021.

Edward Leigh

Edward Leigh is the leader of Smarter Cambridge Transport, chair and independent co-opted member of the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel, chair of the South Petersfield Residents Association, business owner, consultant, and occasional blogger about making the world and Cambridge a better place to live.