Now *this* is what a real transport plan for the future looks like

Cambridge Connect Light Rail in partnership with a number of supporting organisations and parish councils has published an extensive and in-depth prospectus demonstrating how light rail can help solve Cambridge’s century-long problem with the motor car.

William Plowden’s epic covers the national historical picture – available here for a fiver

One of the earliest reports I’ve found of traffic problems in Cambridge pre-dates the First World War.

This scheme was never adopted, and the flow and increasing weight of traffic resulted in the iron bridge being replaced with the current one.

Above – the Silver Street Iron Bridge – you can see the two heavy bolted sections put in place to strengthen the bridge, which dates this picture to the inter-war era.

“Early in 2022, we will be having a follow up consultation with the public. We aim to complete the new Local Transport and Connectivity Plan in Spring 2022.” – The Combined Authority for Cambs & Peterboro’

From we should see the results of the first consultation that finished in late November 2021 sometime in the New Year, with the final plan signed off in May/June 2022.

Cambridge Connect’s Light Rail and regional transport strategy

You can read it here.

A page short of 100 pages in length, a huge amount of work has been put into this by Dr Colin Harris and his team. The Executive Summary is in the first ten pages, so if anything please read that bit. Although I run the Cambridge Connect Facebook Page, I don’t take any credit for the content of this report, which has been put together by people far more competent and qualified in transport and engineering than I could ever hope to be. I am more than happy to be just the sign post pointing people to the plan, which I think is what the Greater Cambridge Combined Authority should have (but did not) come up with in the first place.

You’ll have seen the various iterations of the proposed map and stops in my previous blogposts. The diagram on p28 highlighting walking and cycling access to the proposed stations is the one that matters in our current political context, a detail of which is below.

Above – p28 – Walking & Cycling Accessibility to Light Rail Stops – within 500m, 1000m, and 1500m – all under 20 mins walking, and under 10 mins by cycle.

This is something that The Cambridge Commons regularly shines a spotlight on with its events – as earlier this week showed.

The exclusion – deliberate or unintended, was raised again by Cllr Sam Davies MBE following the publication of the North East Cambridge consultation response for the proposed development on the site of the sewage works.

It’s only when you look at the distance on a map that you get the sense that such a transfer of resources would be utterly unacceptable

The Sewage Works site is just below the label on the map for Milton Country Park in the top right hand corner. The red balloon is where the proposed University Swimming Pool will be. It should not need more money to get that pool built and soon.

One of the additional complaints about the plans came from the Cambridge Sports Lakes Trust and is featured in the Cambridge Independent about how the existing Milton Road Country Park could become overwhelmed by visitors given the proposed housebuilding numbers.

This is why the Wicken Fen Vision is ever so important.

…which brings the open countryside down to Anglesea Abbey – the gap between Waterbeach and Bottisham.

Architect Tom Holbrook has further illustrated below how this can be extended further to the edge of the A14.

Should that happen, I propose that the section of the A14 that is currently a physical barrier, be covered over so as to create an extra-wide green bridge between the new developments at Marleigh off Newmarket Road by the Ice Rink. We know it can be done as ABG Engineering shows the bridge version below.

Above – by ABG.

It would be nice to get something like this built for future generations – which also reminds me that the existing consultations must go above and beyond usual efforts to engage children and young people. Note the Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs & Northants has also now formed a Youth Forum, so the very least officers can do is to engage with organisations already working with young people.

Retrofitting what we already have

“Growth doesn’t solve the challenge of retrofitting buildings with insulation, new windows and heat pumps; or re-plumbing the drains in urban roads so they don’t flood the sewers whenever there’s torrential rainfall. Neither business-as-usual growth nor technological innovation is going to save the day.”

Edward Leigh – Smarter Cambridge Transport

At some stage we will have to do this. Our main roads, our side streets, the previous eras of housing development. Yet history tells us we’ve done this before – this is my neighbourhood in 1946 via Mike Petty MBE/Cambs Collection.

These pre-fabs and Nissen Huts got replaced by the low density flats that are there now. Inevitably both phases were designed with a limited life span. Given the existing housing crisis, any proposals to replace the current flats (which the previous Lib-Dem-run city council proposed in the early 2010s) will need to be of a higher density and of a much higher sustainability. For a start the bus service is inevitably poor given the demographic profile of the residents, so as a result there is a lot of space given over to car parks. Will a new design bring in pooled e-cars and higher standard cycle and e-bike storage? Finally, a more dense population will also require better leisure facilities in a part of town that lacks them. Back in March 2021 I played with some ideas of what to do.

Above – The Lichfield Road Estate – where I sometimes delivered newspapers in the early 1990s. How would you redesign this estate for the age of the climate emergency?

Talking of Green Open Spaces…

Any news of Cambridge Great Park?

…because we need to start sectioning off large areas of land to meet the climate emergency, as I touched on in a pre-local-elections blogpost.

If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to:

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