Cambridge Great Park – which politicians will back it in their 2021 manifestos?

We’ve not had much news of late, but with elections coming up, time to switch on the spotlight once again?

You can read the article from the Cambridge Independent of 14 April 2020 here.

If you are interested, Mike Scialom of the Cambridge Independent has pointed people to studio [@] bcr-infinityarchitects.co.uk. Personally I’d like to see statements from the main political parties and candidates for wards and divisions in the area containing a policy position – whether in principle or in detail stating support or opposition. (You can ask the candidates standing in your area via https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/ – and if you know anyone standing, or are standing yourself, fill in the details at https://candidates.democracyclub.org.uk/ so the voters can find you easily in the face of restricted door – to- door campaigning. )

There’s history behind the park…

Previous generations of environmentalists – the founders of the Cambridge Preservation Society, were at the forefront of protecting Cambridge from urban sprawl. It’s why Cambridge has a green belt.

Above – from 1937 as part of the “Save the Gogs” Campaign – which you can read here.

It’s worth noting that developers have their eye on this part of the world as well – diagrams and documents stored from previous local development plans including bids for more green belt to be released for development.

The areas. in red being from the CEG firm. I put all of this into a blogpost calling on Cambridge’s councils to overhaul how they publicise this information. Because it’s all sitting there. (What are candidates’ policies on this? How will they improve this? In particular systematic and routine publicity online?)

Green spaces

The second half of this post complains about the lack of green spaces accessible to the public. Interestingly, more and more reports on the future of Cambridge and the surrounding area – whether the OxCam Arc, or in this case the Cambridge-Norwich Tech Corridor (have you heard of it?) highlighted the importance of accessible green open space, public transport hubs, and childcare facilities. Here’s NASA on the positive impact that green open space has on our mental health.

And public art too

Some developments – especially the larger ones, have their own public art strategies. This one is for North West Cambridge. The approach towards Public Art from Cambridge City Council is stated here. I can’t pretend to have been impressed by much of the public art that we’ve seen of late. Furthermore, there are some huge blank canvasses (mainly the result of poor design and architecture) that have been left as blank brick walls. You can find examples from the pre-Victorian era all the way through to the present day.

A few years ago I put this public question to councillors a few years ago (See Q5 in the minutes under Public Questions here).

Public art isn’t easy to get right – by its very nature it divides opinions. You only have to look at some of the damning comments that were made during the Victorian redevelopment of Cambridge, with some of the now iconic developments (Such as Gonville and Caius by Waterhouse) being slammed as monstrosities.

The future of Cambridge Market Square

It’s being discussed on 25th March 2021 – see the agenda item here. This was supposed to happen earlier but as Varsity Newspaper reported, it was delayed. This project has been something that has caused a significant amount of disquiet – as summarised by the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations here. You can find out more on the Cambridge Market Square project here.

As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, I’m not interested in any redevelopment of Cambridge Market Square unless it involves revamping the front of the Cambridge Guildhall to resemble something much closer to what John Belcher had in mind for Sir Horace Darwin’s commission back in the late 1890s.

Splendid – John Belcher’s unexecuted design for a new Cambridge Guildhall. I consider this piece to be ‘work in progress’. (Image – Cambs Collection)

Until then, get in touch with your candidates! https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/

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