On the 12th of February 2009 EDF Electricity applied to Cambridge City Council for planning permission to set up a compound on Jesus Green for them to use during work on the substation by the Glassworks gym. The proposed compound is to be located between the tennis courts and the path which runs between Portugal Street and Jesus Lock. Four established trees which make up part of the tree avenue on either side of that path are to be removed, along presumably with the recently planted sapling in the middle of the site.
When the compound is removed it is proposed that the City Council will replace all twenty six cherry trees in the avenue. The planning application says this is an existing City Council plan, but it was not part of the lottery bid which has been submitted – see the council’s plan which shows only one tree in the avenue being replaced. This brings the total number of trees under threat on Jesus Green up from fifty nine to eighty five.
The plans comprise:
- Ten Parking Spaces
- Two, Two-Story Portacabin Buildings
- A 2.4m high solid board fence, painted olive green, around the site.
- A new “Lay-by” off Park Parade
- Halogen Lighting
- Permanent Security Presence
- Containers to be used for storage
The proposal is for the compound to remain on Jesus Green for a year and a half.
A major electricity main runs under Midsummer Common and Jesus Green; work is to be done on the substation at the city end of this cable.
The application states:
The majority of Cambridge City Centre is supplied from a primary electrical substation located on Thompson’s lane.[Photo below] The transformers and electrical equipment on this site are now reaching the end of their life and EDF propose to replace the equipment in order to accommodate future increased demand and to maintain the reliability of the supply.
The existing electrical compound is highly constrained by adjacent developments and the available space will be occupied by temporary transformer arrangements to maintain the supply during the course of the works.
Options which I would have liked considered include placing the portacabins on the grass strip between Park Parade and the tennis courts, this area can be accessed by existing gates and has been used previously for similar compounds. Any additional storage and parking space required could perhaps be found within Park Street car park. Some storage/parking on the road would I believe be preferable to using the green.
It appears however that only nominal alternatives have been considered. A vacant site on Castle Street being ruled out as being too far away, and sites on Jesus Green accessed off Victoria Avenue rejected both for aboricultural reasons and remoteness from the Thompson’s lane site.
The requirement for this compound arises from poor forward planning on the part of the City Council who allowed building on the site of the electricity substation (apparantly this decision was contrary to the officer advice). We have to consider, at the early stages, the effect of development on the city’s infrastructure. Councillors ought to take a greater interest in the provision of our utilities, addressing matters such as policies for cutting off heating to vulnerable people through to poor service and misleading advertising from from Virgin Media as well as issues such as those which led to the requirement for this compound.
Comments on the proposal can be sent to Cambridge City Council Planning Officer Mr Tony Collins via tony.collins at cambridge.gov.uk citing the reference number 09/0087/FUL. It would also be worth contacting City Councillors asking them to make sure they consider the proposals and don’t leave it to officers.
Site of the Proposed Compound
Site of Previous Compounds
Thompson’s Lane Substation, Cambridge