North East Cambridge Area Action Plan Issues and Options 2019

Representation ID: 33441

Received: 25/03/2019

Respondent: Dr Pantea Lotfian

Representation Summary:

In the consultation document (p.8) you highlight the transport issue as a main bottleneck.

My main concern with this view is that in the form it is expressed it sounds rather simplistic and is not taking into account past experience Cambridge had with residential developments, such as Orchard Park where amenities are only available outside the development, increasing trips. Instigating and reinforcing belonging is key to success.

In the action plan there is no provision for working with communities and individuals to instil behaviour change with respect to transport use. Nor is there any indication of research into current and anticipated population, dwelling, distance and amenity mix to ensure cohesion and connectivity.

Full text:

I am pleased to see that you have decided to stop individual and uncoordinated developments and bring all these planning applications under one action plan. This will ensure that the city grows in line with required services enabling the functioning of the city long term. One of the most important areas that has to be considered with the whole city and adjacent areas in mind is obviously transport and mobility.

It is understandable that this consultation is offering a top-level perspective, which is well stated in: "The principle of regeneration is established in the adopted local plans. The nature, quantity and balance of the development still requires consideration hence the action plan. This AAP will be a statutory development plan, with equivalent status to a local plan"

I do agree with the name change of the plan as it takes out the word "fringe" and brings it in line with a vision of an inclusive place that is part of Cambridge as a whole. This vision should also inform the details of planning of this development and its impact on Cambridge and surroundings.

Issue: Non Car Access:

Question 25: As set out in this chapter there are a range of public transport, cycling and walking schemes planned which will improve access to the North East Cambridge area. What other measures should be explored to improve access to this area?

Looking at the executive summary of the Ely to Cambridge Transport Study: Preliminary Strategic Outline Business Case January 2018; the impression is that the best solution providing for the required capacity is expansion of A10 to a full dual carriage way:

"A key finding is that while the mode-shift options without highway improvements provide additional travel capacity and have significant benefits, they do not substantially address the congestion and traffic displacement issues identified. Options with highway improvements are more effective in addressing these issues...... The greatest level of benefit was generated by the full upgrading of the A10 from Ely to Cambridge, which generated benefits at present value of some £760m over the lifetime of the scheme, at a BCR of 2.8 to 1"

The cost of this development is estimated to be £510m delivering 1.5x vale over its lifetime. Given that in parallel with the A10 there are the Cambridge Ely rail tracks, why was not given any considerations in this study for expanding the rail network and creating high enough capacity to have trains running between Ely and Cambridge with two or three key stops with intervals as short as 10min or less. It is understandable that expansion of the railways may require expansion of stations in towns along the route as well as further expanding of the Cambridge stations. Has there been any work on estimating the cost and the value over lifetime of increased rail use?

In the "conclusions" of the executive summary the second stated policy is: "Provide significantly lower levels of car parking than has traditionally been provided, particularly at employment locations". This is in direct contrast with the findings that expansion of A10 to a dual carriage way will have the highest benefits. Cars passing through the dual carriage way will require parking spaces at their destinations. What are the provisions made to address this contradiction? If there is a study of rail expansion how does it compere with the A10 expansion plan? Would expanding the rail network reduce the carbon footprint of travel considerably enough in comparison with A10 as dual carriage way?

Issue: Car usage in North East Cambridge
Question 26: Do you agree that the AAP should be seeking a very low share of journeys to be made by car compared to other more sustainable means like walking, cycling and public transport to and from, and within the area?

In principle I do agree with this idea. However, I am not confident that the current approaches will be successful in achieving this, particularly resolving issues of traffic in Cambridge and surroundings at peak times and during weekends when people head into Cambridge for shopping.

Question 27: Do you have any comments on the highway 'trip budget' approach, and how we can reduce the need for people to travel to and within the area by car?
In principle this is a good idea; however, in practice limiting the number of car parking places will not behave linearly in accordance with people's behaviour. In order to reduce car trips ideally a person travelling in and out of this area should arrive and leave with public transport. One of the main issues with public transport in Cambridge is long waiting time for buses. If bus networks are going to be the dominant mode of public transport for connecting this area with other parts
of Cambridge, there is a need for frequent and timely connections to enable seamless travel for the user.

Issue: Car Parking

Question 28: Do you agree that car parking associated with new developments should be low, and we should take the opportunity to reduce car parking in existing developments (alongside the other measures to improve access by means other than the car)?

See question 27 as this falls under 'trip budget' plan.

Issue: Cycle Parking

Question 29: Do you agree that we should require high levels of cycle parking from new developments?

In principle yes, however this highly depends on the design and capacity of these cycle parking facilities. To be attractive they need to be at least covered, secure and planned at a capacity so that they can absorb future increase in cycle parking. (We should not get into a situation as existed for decades in front of Cambridge train station).

Question 30: Should we look at innovative solutions to high volume cycle storage both within private development as well as in public areas?

Yes, however, please bear in mind that the current cycle parking solution with two racks on top of each other is not friendly to women and older people. An upper rack with a bicycle is often too heavy for a person who is not a regular gym goer and weight lifter. They also often are defect, as the mechanics are not of high enough quality, which makes them unusable.

Question 31: What additional factors should we also be considering to encourage cycling use (e.g. requiring new office buildings to include secure cycle parking, shower facilities and lockers)?

Indeed, other developments such as on the biomedical campus have done that and it is usually motivating people to use their bikes more often.

Issue: Innovative approaches to Movement

Question 32: How do we design and plan for a place that makes the best use of current technologies and is also future proofed to respond to changing technologies over time?

I would phrase this question differently and put humans at the centre of the question: How do we design and plan for a place that maximises the benefits of public infrastructure for multiple generations by harnessing adaptive future proof technologies?

Technology centric projects that are focused on finding the latest gadgetry are often a failure simply because the system change required to help humans adapt to new process required for those technologies was not taken into consideration. Among other issues, this leads to resistance and lack of use and therefore failure of such projects. Instead of a technology push approach to this question using a human centred design process will enable you to identify and procure best in class technologies that are able to perform the required task with built in system
change measures in their features and requirements.

Issue: Linking the Station to the Science Park

Question 33: what sort of innovative measures could be used to improve links between the Cambridge North Station and destinations like the Science Park?

For destinations that are in the immediate vicinity of the NEC area, using advanced
technologies such as driverless minibuses that run frequently would be useful. Initially they can be used in settings similar to the guided busway to reduce risk of collisions. As the technology matures and relevant safety standards are developed free moving minibuses would become possible. Also, simpler solutions such as offering free/low cost electric scooters and bikes that can be docked within in the area will bring quick wins.

Other observations:

In the consultation document you highlight the transport issue as a main bottleneck and state: "It suggests that a more residential-led development mix for the site which reduces external trips would provide better transport outcomes. Therefore, plans for the area will need to seek to minimise car use to the site, maximise the take-up of non-car modes including walking, cycling, bus and rail use, and promote land uses that encourage trips to be retained on-site where possible"

My main concern with this view is that in the form it is expressed it sounds rather simplistic and is not taking into account past experience Cambridge had with residential developments.

* One example is Orchard Park which is close to the Science park and initially it was
hoped that it will contain a lively centre with shops and amenities that would attract
people enough to reduce trips into town. Unfortunately, this has not turned viable and in the past year or so the shops and open area has been converted into homes, resulting into a large area of residential buildings that is wholly dependent on outside amenities. This will certainly increase trips to and from the development.

* Existence of a few shops alone will not necessarily keep people in the area that their houses are. The sense of belonging is what keeps people in a specific area and there is no provision for such considerations in your plans for NEC.
o I appreciate the section on "Place Making" however, as the plan is not detailed at
this stage it is not clear how this is going to be implemented

* My understanding is that it is hoped that the majority of people that would be living in this new development are also working in the science and business parks in the area. Has there been enough research carried out to understand the mix of people who live already in the area and their distance from where they work? Would they move to be closer to their work place if they would no longer work in the area? A good and contained example for this type of research work to be carried out would be Orchard park.

* In the action plan there is no provision for working with communities and individuals to instil behaviour change with respect to transport use

Has analysis been done of how to change peoples' habits and behaviour regarding travel to town for recreation time, shopping as experience or just feeling being connected with a larger entity? To my understanding this plan aims at forcing/cajoling residents of Cambridge and the future residents of the NEC to take up habits that are not easily instilled. It is mainly a stick-based approach and the carrots (shops, community centre and other amenities) so far have not been successful in reducing people's need (perceived or real) to travel to central Cambridge.

The vision statement aims to create an economically and socially inclusive living space. However, the current plans are mainly focusing on increasing the economic cost of car use in order to keep the NEC area free from traffic. However, this will lead to car free streets for those who can afford to pay the high cost of parking spaces and other levies on cars which will be in contrast to what the mission statement set to achieve in terms of inclusivity.

The majority of well-known private schools are located in Cambridge. Inevitably a good number of higher earners settling in the NEC would prefer to send their children to these schools, which will lead to drivers ferrying children in and out of the area during high congestion times, adding to the traffic. Already the effect of this group is clearly evident during rush hour in Cambridge, particularly in areas around the schools where they clearly obstruct main traffic flows. This is just one example of issues that will arise when services in a city are not distributed evenly.