Smarter Cambridge Transport

Fixing the Grafton Area

A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is not the most riveting read, but the one for the Grafton Area is something to be excited by.

This part of Cambridge has been unloved for many years. In the 90s, the path between Bradwells Court (now Christ’s Lane) and Fitzroy Street thronged with shoppers. There was a brief renaissance when John Lewis decamped to the building now occupied by Primark. But since the Grand Arcade opened ten years ago, the Grafton area has felt like a poor relative of the city centre.

The Grafton Centre itself is undergoing a facelift, but the area needs more than that. This is where the SPD comes in: it sets out a vision for how the area could be made more attractive and accessible from all directions, on foot, cycle, bus and taxi.

It could go further, and these are some additional ideas we’ve submitted to the SPD consultation:

  1. De-dual East Road. This doesn’t significantly reduce capacity (which is limited by the single-carriage section) but does release land for redesigning and landscaping the area.
  2. Replace the bus turnaround space with a covered space for a market.
  3. Implement Smarter Cambridge Transport’s proposal to have most buses circulate the inner ring road in an anticlockwise direction (rather than go in and out of Drummer St). The main bus bays can then be on the Grafton Centre side of East Road, alongside the new covered space, and at the end of Napier St.
  4. Upgrade the Napier St entrance to the Grafton Centre.
  5. Simplify the junction at the Crown Court to make it quicker and safer to cross East Rd on foot and cycle.
  6. Replace the Grafton East car park entry barriers with a single lane monitored by ANPR camera; move the exit lane to make space for a cycle lane and footpath through to Wellington St. (The new residential development on Seven Place makes this essential.)

Then let’s replace that ghastly hole in the ground at the Newmarket Rd-Elizabeth Way roundabout and re-connect these parts of Cambridge for people who don’t want to drive everywhere.

This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 8 November 2017.

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.

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