I have submitted an objection to a planning application to demolish the buildings on Mitcham’s Corner in Cambridge currently housing Staples and Lloyds Bank, replacing them with a commercial space, that Staples and Lloyds are expected to move back into, along with 172 rooms for the largely 16-18 year old pupils attending Bellerbys College in the city.
I am writing to object to planning application 13/0036/FUL
- As the site is surrounded by a busy, hard to cross, road which feels difficult and dangerous to cycle on I do not think it is an appropriate location for accommodating 172 relatively young students many of whom are expected to be new to the UK and unfamiliar with our roads. I don’t think access to the site is easy or safe enough. I am a regular cyclist and pedestrian on the surrounding roads; it is often hard to cross traffic; cars and buses are often changing lanes as they drive around the gyratory which is hazardous; and the shared use cycle/foot paths are badly signed and hard to understand. As an example one shared use cycle/foot path appears (according to the signage) to stop half way along Croft Holme Lane leaving cyclists attempting to cross three lanes of traffic from a position with poor visibility.
- I think the proposed new building is too large for, and architecturally out of kilter with, its context. While some effort has been made with its external appearance it is not of high enough quality given its prime location in central Cambridge, very close to the river Cam, Jesus Green and Midsummer Common.
- Given substantial re-design of road environment in the area; shifting the priority substantially towards pedestrians and cyclists, perhaps a dormitory for young students of the sort proposed could be appropriate on the site; however no such substantial changes are directly proposed as part of the application. To enable a development similar to the one proposed would require improvements to the immediate road environment.
- I think this site, and the adjacent area, including the space currently occupied by the highway, is one which needs pro-active planning; the improvements needed will not in my view easily emerge as a result of applications coming forward from developers.
Proposed Access to Cycle Park at Mitcham’s Corner Cambridge
- The application proposes a large cycle park in a basement accessed down steps. This is crazy for a building whose residents would be expected to cycle as a primary means of getting around, and in a city which, given the popularity of cycling, ought be leading the way in requiring high quality cycle parking in new developments like these.
- The transport assessment states: “residents at this development will be legally restricted to bringing cars to the city”; I think councillors ought investigate this statement. Presumably it means residents will be in breach of a rental agreement or licence agreement if they bring a car to Cambridge.
Proposal: Mitcham’s Corner Cambridge
No “Student Departure and Arrival Traffic Management Strategy” has been prepared; it is suggested one might be required as a condition. I find it hard to envisage how students being dropped off and picked up at the start and end of terms will not create a hazard and congestion at the site which is surrounded by a busy and complex road environment.
- I suggest restricting the permission given to the specific proposed use, by students of Bellerbys college (or similar institutions) and not for example rented on the open market; or used in whole, or part, by other institutions such as Cambridge colleges; requiring any such changes of use to be brought before councillors if they were to be considered in the future. The impact on the surrounding area of similar uses might well be quite different.
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