The sudden and unexpected withdrawal of Grosvenor’s planning application for a sporting village and 520 houses south of Trumpington Meadows has created an opportunity.
Some years ago the County Council negotiated a deal with Grosvenor to acquire land to the west of M11 Junction 11 with a view to building a new Park & Ride there – to complement rather than replace the existing site in Trumpington.
This location is wrong for all sorts of reasons: logistics, expense, and visual impact, including needing an unsightly new bridge over the M11 and ramps. Expanding the existing site would be wrong too: Trumpington has grown around the car park; we wouldn’t build it in the middle of a village now, so we shouldn’t compound the error.
Clearly the best location for a single P&R serving traffic arriving from the M11 is on the north side of Junction 11.
As this is in the green belt (as is the Hauxton side of the M11), the car park should be compact and beautifully landscaped. ‘Compact’ entails multi-level, so let’s see a beautiful piece of green architecture, a sculptural gateway to a historic city in a rural setting.
Traffic can be fed directly into this site, minimising conflict with traffic continuing on Hauxton Rd to the city and Addenbrooke’s. The filter lane and access road to the existing P&R would become a segregated bus or light rail link between the new P&R and the busway.
Part of the Cambridge Connect light rail proposal would reclaim the busway to run a fast, high capacity service from the P&R to the Biomedical Campus and main rail station, and on to the city centre via a tunnel. Not only would this satisfy anticipated growth in the city and at the Biomedical Campus, the P&R could then intercept tourist coaches. A Visit Cambridge orientation and booking centre could assist visitors as they transfer to a train.
Maybe this site is also the right location for a sporting village, but the houses needed to pay for it could now be built on the vacated car park in Trumpington.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 12 July 2017.