Smarter Cambridge Transport

Improved plans for Cambridge station

Last time I wrote about the final phase of the Cambridge station development, I concluded pessimistically it would receive permission despite its faults. Thankfully, the planning committee found the resolve to refuse it, in large part because of inadequate provision for people cycling to and past the station.

Brookgate has now submitted a revised planning application. It implements Smarter Cambridge Transport’s proposal for a protected cycle lane between Devonshire Road and the back of Sainsbury’s. Although it’s a less direct route past the station, it avoids most of the conflicts with motor vehicles and pedestrians, making it suitable for a much wider range of cycling abilities.

That concession was won in large part because of new government guidance on the design of cycling infrastructure. Expect LTN1/20 to be cited in many more planning decisions.

Unfortunately, although there are outstanding issues with the new development, these are unlikely to see it blocked a second time.

The plans still include a multi-storey car park, where we should instead have ground-floor shops or other amenities and an extension to the cycle park. The current 1,800 spaces seem a lot, until you realise Utrecht in the Netherlands has 22,000 in ride-through, staffed buildings under and around the station. By the time Cambridge South opens, the city will need over 5,000 spaces across its three stations.

There will be nowhere for station taxis to over-rank once they can no longer use the surface car park. That is likely to lead to even more congestion and pollution on Great Northern Road. It could also cause more frequent tailbacks to Station Road, disrupting bus services.

There has yet to be a conversation about where the future CAM underground station will go, and how it will be built while the railway station stays open.

Let’s hope the conditions of planning consent include the County Council’s recommendation for a new pair of bus bays in front of the station, at which all buses will stop. It would make rail–bus interchanging easier for visitors to the city. We’d then just need a multilingual ticket machine in the station foyer selling all-operator day passes.

This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 17 February 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.

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