Plans for a proposed development which will comprise 2500 homes, a similar number of student residences as well as University buildings between Huntington Road, opposite Girton College though to Madingley Road, joining up with the observatory site on Madingley rise took a step forward today. A draft Northwest Cambridge Area Action Plan (AAP) draft, and the Council’s responses to comments received so far were taken to a ” North West Fringe Member Reference Group ” a joint meeting with members of Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.
The AAP states:
” priority must be on the provision of housing for Cambridge University and College key workers. “
The councils’ proposal is that all the affordable housing on the site is to be for “University Key Workers” .
I do not approve of this new term “University Key Worker”, those who work at the University are not police, firemen, NHS staff, teachers or others who generally come under typical definitions of “Key Workers” with respect to housing.
I believe there needs to be proper keyworker and affordable housing provision in all new developments and this should not be monopolised by the University.
How would a policy of homes only being made available to University staff work over time, would they be compelled to sell up if they changed jobs or retired. It appears that it is impossible to keep an occupancy restriction in place beyond 10 years in any case. I would think it reasonable that first refusal on the first sale of certain properties being given to University staff given that the University owns this site but to restrict occupancy beyond that I believe is an undesirable interference with the free market.
I disagree that the policy of University staff only housing meets the Councils’ aims to create mixed, balanced and sustainable communities; this is a divisive policy which will promote segregation of the “town and gown” in Cambridge.
There is no definition of a University Key Worker, without this it is not possible to make a properly informed opinion, the lack of this definition is something I believe needs to be corrected.
I cannot see how this scheme will make it any easier for researchers on short term badly paid contracts to afford to buy a house in Cambridge. Providing housing is a very different problem to making it possible to buy a house, and the latter is a problem which cannot be solved on a micro scale, we need to look at researchers’ pay, stability of employment and house prices. As it is I don’t know if research workers come under the “University Key Worker” definition.
The sensible suggestion from local residents to keep taller development away from the existing housing is rejected by the council, though essentially this decision is deferred to the more detailed “masterplanning” stage.
Reference is made by objectors to the poor quality of recent development allowed in the city: ” ‘Russian type’ tenement blocks (as seen on Cambridge West Site close to the Vet School)”, their concerns are noted, but I am not convinced they have been taken seriously. Compared to new developments elsewhere in the country such as those I have seen on the outskirts of London and in Oxfordshire and Dorset what we are getting in Cambridge appears to be very poor quality, I think Cambridge deserves better.
Despite the fact that large numbers of new student residences are being planned, in some aspects in great detail, students, and students unions do not appear to have contributed to the planning process so far.
Many excellent suggestions are made by the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, supporting routes suitable for cycle commuting though most are dismissed as being inappropriate for the AAP and need to be made later in the planning process. I think the level of detail dealt with at the various stages is unclear and irrational. The design o cycle racks is tightly controlled at this AAP stage, but road design even the principles of the site layout are considered to detailed and left to the masterplanning stage.
A link road from Madingley Road to Huntington Road is remains a possibility with this AAP, but is not stipulated by it, and refers to a proposed road between Huntington Road and Histon Road (Where is that proposed – in detail? the AAP doesn’t say). I would suggest unrestricting the Madingley road M11 junction and improving the Girton interchange getting traffic out of the city entirely are missing elements.
Finally a mention of a possible ice rink has made it into the draft AAP:
North West Cambridge may also provide the opportunity to host a facility which may serve a wider area and the University community as a whole, such as an ice rink.
The Area Action Plan will be submitted to the Secretary of State on 19th May 2008, then a six-week public consultation period will start on 19th May and finish on 1st July 2008.