As sanctioned by the Local Plan, planning permission has been granted for 430 new homes on land north and south of Worts’ Causeway. If you’re not familiar with that road, it’s a narrow country lane, running from south of the Addenbrooke’s roundabout over the Gog Magog Hills.
As new edge-of-city developments, their success depends heavily on residents having easy access to the rest of the city. By ‘success’, I mean enabling all residents to lead sustainable, healthy and socially integrated lives. So, what are the targets set for sustainable travel? A reduction in the proportion of residents’ trips made by car from around 35% to 30%. Yes, a whopping five percentage point reduction. Faced with climate and public health crises, the poverty of ambition is deeply concerning.
But even that target will be challenging. As Camcycle and many local Queen Edith’s residents endeavoured to point out to our planners, the walking and cycling routes are far from ideal. All cars, cycles and pedestrians from the northern development will be funnelled down to Worts’ Causeway. The pavement there on the north side will be extended and widened east of Field Way, with cycling permitted.
If you live towards the northern edge of the development, your route to Queen Edith Community Primary School will be 2km. Faced with how long the trip will take on foot, and having to share the narrow cut-through to Almoners’ Avenue with people cycling, how many residents will instead choose to drive to visit local shops or their GP, or to take their children to school?
The developer could purchase a property on the open market to create a cut-through to Almoners’ Avenue or Beaumont Road, reducing the walking distance by up to 1km and bypassing narrow cut-throughs. The transport officer asked for a planning condition “to determine that all reasonable efforts have been made by the applicant” to do this. The planning officer demurred, defending the developer rather than the welfare of future residents.
It’s not over yet: the developer still has to seek consent for detailed plans. Those had better include a second pedestrian/cycle access point.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 10 February 2021.