Eastern Gate: Planning Committee ignores City Council’s own policies

RARA, in conjunction with Petersfield and Brunswick residents’ groups, has spent many hours in discussions with the City Council about their Eastern Gate development framework. The process began in July 2009, with a first ‘vision’ document agreed in July 2010. In October 2011 the Council adopted the final framework as a Supplementary Planning Document, known as an SPD. This sets guidelines for future development, and should be taken into account as ’emerging policy’ even before adoption. This particular SPD had three important requirements for any future development along the south side of Newmarket Road:

* That developments should vary in height between 3 and 5 storeys to avoid long horizontal rooflines.

* That through routes across the site should be built to help break down barriers between the communities to north and south of Newmarket Road.

* That developments should be set back to allow a continuous line of trees to ‘green’ this approach to the City.

Unfortunately, the Planning Committee has chosen to jettison all three requirements by approving a 5 storey residential block with a 90 metre frontage to sit alongside the previously consented Travelodge hotel of a similar height. Together the two buildings will form a continuous 5 storey 180metre long ‘canyon wall’ from the Cambridge Refrigeration Technology (CRT) building to Coldham’s Lane.

The Committee also allowed the developer’s proposal to step the west end of the building forward to match the frontage of the CRT building (an ugly concrete block). The alternative, which residents argued for, would have been to maintain the building setback along the full frontage in the expectation that the CRT site will also eventually be redeveloped. This would have allowed tree planting to continue all the way to the natural break of Abbey Street.

The Planning Committee also ignored the Council’s Open Spaces Strategy which requires major developments to provide open space. In a block with family accommodation there will not even be a children’s play area.

We all feel that our time has been wasted and that we cannot have confidence in a Council that does not attempt to enforce its own policies. We shall be making protests.

Riverside and Stourbridge Common Conservation Area Re-consultation

When: 28th November 2011 to 23rd January 2012
Why: Re-consultation on the newly named Riverside and Stourbridge Common Conservation Area.
Who: Susan Smith, Conservation and Design Officer, Cambridge City Council
Cost: Free

What to do next:
Comments or questions from the public are invited. Contact Susan Smith on 01223 457168 or susan.smith@cambridge.gov.uk for more details on how to access the documents regarding the conservation area.

What is the Riverside and Stourbridge Common Conservation Area?
The Riverside and Stourbridge Common Conservation Area is the new name for the Riverside Conservation Area. Earlier in 2011, Cambridge City Council conducted a consultation on an appraisal of the Riverside area, which is part of the Central Conservation Area. As a result of a deferral by the Environment Scrutiny Committee, there is to be a re-consultation on the contents of the appraisal document.

Cambridge Local Plan – Workshop

When: Wednesday 1st of February 2012 from 6pm to 9pm
Where: Small Hall in the Guildhall, Cambridge
Why: Workshop to allow residents to input views on the future development of Cambridge
Extra info: Sandwiches will be provided from 5.30pm
Cost: Free

What to do next: Confirm your attendance by 6th January 2012 via email: policysurveys@cambridge.gov.uk or telephone: 01223 457290.

What is the Cambridge Local Plan?

It is a key policy document that is produced by the City Council to manage the future development of land in Cambridge. The 2006 Local Plan now needs to be updated and work has been progressing on developing an evidence base of technical documents to support its review. The new Local Plan will guide development to 2031. The first formal stage of public consultation will take place on an Issues and Options Report, and this is due to take place in Summer 2012.

To feed into the Issues and Options Report, please attend the workshop. The workshop will provide an introduction to the Local Plan review process and there will also be interactive sessions where you will have an opportunity to input your views and aspirations on the future development of the City.

An agenda and relevant papers will be circulated prior to the workshop.

Want to get more involved?

If you’d like to meet up the Planning Policy Manager (Sara Saunders) on a one to one basis to discuss any issues relating to the Local Plan review then you can email her at: policysurveys@cambridge.gov.uk or telephone: 01223 457290.