North East Cambridge Area Action Plan Issues and Options 2019
Representation ID: 33690
Respondent: British Horse Society
Paragraph 6.14 states studies that have emphasised the relationship between planning and health and wellbeing of new communities, with the AAP needing to include health related policies. This would contribute to making the NEC a healthy and safe place.
The health benefits of equestrianism are well known and noted in the Case for the Inclusion of Equestrian Access included in my full statement.
In response to para 6.1: Northstowes inclusion in NHS Healthy Towns Initiative, which included Homes England and planners working closely with the British Horse Society to include equestrian provision: There are opportunities to apply similar principles in North East Cambridge and include a network of bridleways / multi user routes are included in this project.
I attended the Nun's Way Consultation last week and spoke with your Officers.
Having explained that I represent the British Horse Society (BHS), it became clear that equestrian access had been excluded from the project for a number of reasons including the fact that Officers were unsure what provision was needed and how it could be delivered.
I have provided a very detailed response, including information on why equestrian access should be included. I have provided this information to enable officers to understand what is required and how it can be provided.
I am aware that the project is at a very early stage but it is essential that the mindset going forward is for multi user access and not shared pedestrian and cyclist access.
I trust that this response is helpful but if I have not provided all the information you require, please let me know.
North East Cambridge Area Action Plan
Consultation Response on behalf of the British Horse Society
I am the British Horse Society (BHS) County Access & Bridleways Officer - Cambridgeshire. I would comment on the above consultation as follows:
Firstly, I would like to say that I am very pleased to see that equestrianism has been acknowledged in the Consultation document but very disappointed to see that no equestrian access has been included in the project. Having met with Cambridge City Planning and Development Officers at the Nun's Way consultation, I understand that this may be partly due to the fact that the project officers do not know how equestrian access could be provided and have asked for guidance from the BHS.
There are many reasons for the provision of offroad access for equestrians with that of safety being the most important.
What are the BHS seeking to be provided in this project:
* all routes linking to settlements or rights of way which are currently proposed as shared cycle and pedestrian should be delivered as multiuser (pedestrian, cyclists and equestrian) paths.
* peripheral routes around significant green spaces should be multi user routes.
* all crossings over, under or around barriers such as roads, railways or rivers should be multi user.
The obvious linking opportunities are:
* the Guided Bus bridleway at Milton Road to Waterbeach and Milton Country Park via the Waterbeach Greenway or any other proposed cycle and pedestrian routes
* Waterbeach to Byway 162/3 Milton via the Guided Bus bridleway via the Waterbeach Greenway or any other proposed cycle and pedestrian routes
* Links to Ditton Meadows or any other communities to the East.
The existing Guided Bus bridleway is shown on the above map which highlights how easily the site could provide a safe, off road link between the proposed Waterbeach Greenway and the bridleway.
Having reviewed the Consultation document, I would make the following specific comments:
Green infrastructure A network of multi-functional green space, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits for local communities
This should include equestrian access. An advantage of the presence of equestrians has been reported by Landscape Architects is that including equestrian access around public spaces discourages antisocial behaviour - the appearance of a horse and rider has more impact on those engaging in antisocial behaviour than say a pedestrian or a cyclist.
Sustainable modes of transport: Any efficient, safe and accessible means of transport with overall low impact on the environment, including walking and cycling, low and ultra low emission vehicles, car sharing and public transport
Sustainable transport includes horse riding.
4.6. Milton Country Park, which provides access to woodlands and lakes, as well as a visitor centre and children's play areas, is located across the A14 to the north. The River Cam corridor, to the east of NEC, includes walking and cycling opportunities.
Equestrian access is also available at Milton Country Park.
NEC will provide a new model for low car dependency living, through maximising the use of and integrating with public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure.
Transport includes journeys for leisure which includes horse riding.
NEC will integrate with surrounding communities, spreading the benefits it delivers to surrounding areas.
The opportunity to link equestrians in Waterbeach to Histon and beyond would provide a benefit.
NEC will be a healthy place, with a focus on creating a new community with good health and wellbeing.
The health benefits of equestrianism is well documented and noted below.
6.3. The NEC Indicative Concept Plan (at Figure 6.1) begins to describe the kind of place that could be created with the successful regeneration of the area. Movement and the ability to do so easily on foot, by bike or on public transport is central to making the area a well-connected place that reduces the need to travel by car. A high quality green route that supports sustainable transport modes will improve connections from the Cambridge North Station to the Cambridge Science Park, and reduce the barrier that is Milton Road.
Access across Milton Road should be multi user.
6.6. Green infrastructure capitalises on the network of existing trees and landscape but also extends this to create an overall framework to improve biodiversity and linkages to the wider countryside. Embedded into this framework will be the water management network that improves the First Drain and adds richness to the landscape. A new green space at a district scale will enrich the heart of this new place and provide the kind of multifunctional space that is so typical of Cambridge and central to public life.
Linkages to the wider countryside hould include equestrian access - public money should be spent to benefit the widest range of users.
6.14. Cambridgeshire County Council has produced a Housing Developments and the Built Environment Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, which emphasises the relationship between planning and health and wellbeing of new communities. The draft AAP will need to include health related policies. A range of issues addressed in this issues and options report would contribute to making the NEC a healthy and safe place.
The health benefits of equestrianism are well known and noted in the Case for the Inclusion of Equestrian Access below.
6.15. Recently the new town of Northstowe has been part of the NHS Healthy Towns Initiative. This considered how health, and the delivery of healthy communities, could be a key driver in the planning and design process for a new community. It provided an opportunity to explore innovation and best practice. The principles it explored included promoting inclusive communities, good access to health services, walkable neighbourhoods, high quality public transport and cycling links, and opportunities for physical activity. There are opportunities to apply similar principles in North East Cambridge.
Planners and Homes England have worked closely with the BHS at Northstowe and a network of bridleways / multi user routes are included in this project.
Local movement and connectivity
6.21. Chapter 7 of this Issues & Options report considers the wider transport implications of the regeneration of NEC. At the local level, and intrinsically linked into the placemaking led approach, are decisions around movement and connectivity within the NEC area and linkages to the surrounding area. Improvements could establish new or upgraded walking, cycling and public transport connections between Cambridge North Station, the employment areas, Cambridge Regional College, and the surrounding neighbourhoods. In addition, leisure and active routes for walking cycling and equestrians which integrate with the wider countryside beyond are crucial in achieving a shift away from private car dependent forms of development, and towards a 'walkable district'. This would allow and encourage easy change between sustainable modes and influences the way that the place will work and meet the needs of those that live and work in the area.
Equestrian access which integrates with the wider countryside is identified in the report and mentioned in this Clause as 'crucial' yet it is not included anywhere in the project. This needs to be rectified.
6.22. A number of projects would help to establish improved connectivity to NEC, including the Chisholm Trail and Waterbeach Greenways. These would be delivered as part of separate projects and would connect Cambridge North Station with Cambridge Station, Cambridge Biomedical Campus and Addenbrooke's Hospital. In addition, they provide linkages to Northstowe and the planned new town north of Waterbeach.
Wherever links are proposed between communities for pedestrian and cyclists, equestrians should be included unless there is good reason for them not to be. The BHS is the authoritative body to make these decisions. The Greenways are multi user routes - it is very disappointing to see that equestrian access mentioned in the preamble has not been included at this level.
Issue: Local movement and connectivity Question 16:
Should the AAP include any or a combination of the options below to improve pedestrian and cycling connectivity through the site and to the surrounding area?
A - Create a strong east-west axis to unite Cambridge North Station with Cambridge Science Park across Milton Road. This pedestrian and cycle corridor would be integrated into the wider green infrastructure network to create a pleasant and enjoyable route for people to travel through and around the site. The route could also allow other sustainable forms of transport to connect across Milton Road.
Multi user access required not the provision of restrictive cycle and pedestrian access.
C - Upgrade connections to Milton Country Park by both foot and cycle. This would include improving access to the Jane Coston Bridge over the A14, the Waterbeach Greenway project including a new access under the A14 (see Transport Chapter), as well as the existing underpass along the river towpath.
Multi user access required not the provision of restrictive cycle and pedestrian access.
E - Increase ease of movement across the sites by opening up opportunities to walk and cycle through areas where this is currently difficult, for example Cambridge Business Park and the Cambridge Science Park improving access to the Kings Hedges and East Chesterton areas as well as the City beyond.
Equestrian access required on the inter community links.
Issue: Crossing the railway line Question 17: Should we explore delivery of a cycling and pedestrian bridge over the railway line to link into the River Cam towpath?
6.34. The site is in close proximity to Milton Country Park and the River Cam Corridor. There will be a requirement for development in NEC to improve pedestrian and cycle connectivity to these well used spaces. As part of this strategy, a strong green infrastructure network will be introduced through the site which will connect north towards Waterbeach new town, west through the Science and into Cambridge Regional College, and east to the River Cam and the fenland landscape beyond (see Transport Chapter).
Any such infrastructure must be multiuser - to do otherwise would be contrary to the Cambridgeshire Rights of Way Improvement Plan since the creation of restrictive pedestrian and cycle only access further fragments the already inadequate bridleway network.
6.35. If NEC is to make a significant contribution to Greater Cambridge's employment and housing needs, maximising the benefits to be realised from the new rail station and Guided Busway, it will be critical that the AAP requires enhanced pedestrian and cycle connectivity to Milton Country Park and the River Cam corridor.
This should be multi user for all the reasons already quoted.
6.36. Green Infrastructure provision will help to structure and soften this new city district. It has a key role in providing space for sustainable drainage systems (SUDS), which will be important in this area. They also provide social spaces which support community activities and healthy activities.
Must be multiuser for all the reasons already quoted.
F - Creation of enhanced pedestrian and cycle connectivity to Milton Country Park and the River Cam corridor.
7.12. Comprehensive high quality pedestrian and cycle networks should permeate the area and link to the surrounding area. There are a range of connectivity issues within the North East Cambridge area that will need to be addressed.
7.13. NEC is well placed to link into the cycle network that crosses the city, as well as routes that serve destinations beyond the city, such as towards Northstowe. Improvements are already planned which will improve access to the area further:
* The Chisholm Trail, creating a mostly off-road and trafficfree route between Cambridge Station, via Abbey, and the new Cambridge North Station, and beyond to St. Ives and Huntingdon.
* Waterbeach Greenway. The Greenways will provide cycling, walking and equestrian routes into Cambridge from the larger villages surrounding the city. Route options for Waterbeach Greenway cross through the NEC site.
7.12 and 7.13 must be multiuser for all the reasons already quoted.
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?
Include bridleway provision in the S.106 Agreement.
THE CASE FOR THE INCLUSION OF EQUESTRIAN ACCESS
The BHS (British Horse Society)
* The British Horse Society (BHS), together with the membership of its Affiliated Riding Clubs and Bridleway Groups is the largest and most influential equestrian charity in the UK.
* The BHS represents the interests of the 3 million people in the UK who ride or who drive horse-drawn vehicles.
* The BHS works for safer on and off-road riding and carriage driving through an improved public rights of way network, and seeking to create new opportunities of lawful off road riding and carriage driving, and safer use of our roads by all road users.
Between 2010 and 2017 the BHS horse accidents website has recorded:
230 horses died on the roads and 840 were injured, 5 severely
39 riders killed, 10 severely injured
* 3,863 horse riders and carriage drivers in England and Wales were admitted to hospital for 'animal-rider or occupant animal-drawn vehicle injured in transport accident' in 2016-17 (source: NHS Hospital Episodes Statistics)
* Only 1 in 10 horse related road accidents are reported (source: British Horse Society)
The regions with the highest number of incidents are: West Yorkshire, South West and the East of England
These figures demonstrate how important it is that planning authorities, developers, Highways and Strategic Transport understand the requirement for safe access for equestrians on the roads and the links to PROW (Public Rights of Way Network)
The Equestrian Industry's Impact on the Economy
* The contribution made by the equine sector to the UK economy in 2017 excluding the racing industry was £4.3 billion
(source: British Equestrian Trade Association).
* The Equestrian Industry is the second largest rural employer after the agricultural sector in the UK
(source: British Horse Industry Confederation 2017 Mid-Sector Manifesto).
Health and Well-being - Benefits of Horse Riding : Research undertaken by the University of Brighton and Plumpton College on behalf of The British Horse Society:
* The majority of horse riders are women (90%) with more than a third being over 45.
* Horse riding and activities associated with horse riding, such as mucking out, expend sufficient energy to be classed as moderate intensity exercise.
* Horse riders with a long-standing illness or disability who took part in the survey are able to undertake horse riding and associated activities at the same self-reported level of frequency and physical intensity as those without such an illness or disability
Active women raise active children.
Equestrianism falls into the category of 'Active Travel'
The importance and benefits of regular exercise and being outdoors are well known and established. The majority of horse riders are female whereas the majority of cyclists are male. Riding is a sport which you can participate in at any age. Despite the popular view that horse riding is elitist, the reality is that people from all walks of life ride horses with a strong social network.
Exercise as part of family life installs good lifetime standards. Getting back to riding their horse often motivates women to recover more quickly from serious illnesses and surgery.
For some disabled people, their only opportunity to access the countryside is on horseback or horse drawn carriage which gives them a freedom they cannot achieve in their everyday lives. On horseback, a disabled person is at the same eye level as other riders something which wheelchair bound people rarely achieve, giving a feeling of belonging and inclusivity.
The psychological and social benefits of horse riding :
* Horse riding stimulates mainly positive psychological feelings.
* Horse riders are strongly motivated to take part in riding by the sense of well-being they gain from interacting with horses. This important positive psychological interaction with an animal occurs in a very few sports.
* Many differently abled children, such as those coping with Autism, have also benefitted from working with horses.
* Being outdoors and in contact with nature is an important motivation for the vast majority of horse riders.
Research is showing that the old pun 'horse people are stable people' may be more factual than previously understood because of the positive psychological feelings which being around horses generates. One little boy in South Cambs refuses to speak although he will talk to the horse during his Riding for the Disabled session.
Riders and drivers often say that having the opportunity to spend part of every day outdoors tending their horses is their 'chill' time and allows them the opportunity to 'recharge their batteries' away from the stresses of daily life. As Winston Churchill, allegedly said: "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of man."
The Guided busway St. Ives to Cambridge
The bridleway created alongside the guided busway which was instigated by Swavesey Bridleways Group was inspired - a fantastic facility created on a service track.
Just to be clear, bridleways have always been available to pedestrians and horse riders and since 1968, with the support of equestrians, bicycles were included as rightful users. On a bridleway, horse riders must give way to pedestrians and cyclists must give way to pedestrians and cyclists.
What is a good design of an NMU (non motorised user pedestrians, cyclists AND horse riders) path? Simple ....
Don't put the cycle path down the centre of the route leaving two narrow, useless grass verges either side, combine the two verges and put the cycle path to one side. It was established at the Cambridgeshire Planning Committee when the Que to Lode shared cycle and pedestrian path was being considered, that it costs no more to build an NMU path than a shared cycle and pedestrian path.
It really is that easy - on NMU paths we are not asking for new paths or new routes - simply a good design and not to be excluded.
The DNA path alongside the railway In Great Shelford was a good idea in its time but the flaws and lost opportunity are clear. The grass clippings from the mower fall on to the tarmac from both sides where it decomposes and allows herbage to establish and reduces the width of the hard top path forcing users on to a narrow section increasing the potential for conflict. The clippings on the path also become very slippery in wet weather and are a problem for cyclists.
Having a decent grass verge is a refuge for pedestrians to get out of the way of cyclists, is a more pleasant walk for dogs and is appreciated by runners who like horse riders, are concerned about the impact of a hard surface on joints.
The DNA path does raise another issue - that of maintenance. Failure to maintain a path is poor use of public capital expenditure. Clever design would take into account the optimum width for the mowers to ensure that the grass can be kept to a useful length.
Perceived barriers to including equestrians on NMU paths
* Horses pose a danger - No evidence
* Horse droppings - No danger to humans
* Potential Conflict - No evidence
* Landowners refuse equestrian access - we will check!
* Reality is that best use of public funds is for access facilities to be available to as many users as possible.
There are no recorded incidents of third party injury caused by horses being ridden on any public right of way.
Horse poo presents no danger to human health and quickly disperses. However, we do encourage riders to remove droppings from path.
Conflict with cyclists is often held as a reason to exclude us. This rarely has anything to do with the bicycle - its just an inconsiderate person who happens to be on a bike (or horse!) that day. Horse riders and cyclists as two vulnerable road user groups have far more in common with each other than differences.
Conflict with commuter cyclists who want to cycle quickly is also cited a reason to exclude horses however, commuter traffic is time of day related and tidal. Riders chose to avoid peak traffic times on paths in the same way as going into town in a car. According to CamCycle, there is a speed limit of 15 mph on cycle paths - bikes with motors are governed to 15 mph - any which have been altered to travel more quickly are not allowed on cycle paths.
Vulnerable Road Users
* Historically vulnerable road users have been considered to be pedestrians and cyclists.
* British Horse Society working at all levels to ensure horse-riders vulnerability is recognised. Horses are now recognised as the most vulnerable road user.
* November 2018 at the Parliamentary Debate on Road Safety in Westminster, the Under Secretary of State for Transport, Jesse Norman said: 'We should be clear that the cycling and walking strategy may have that name but is absolutely targeted at vulnerable road users, including horse-riders.'
Historically, vulnerable road users have been identified as pedestrians and cyclists. Highways, Rail Infrastructure Planners, Planners, Agents and Applicants, have been educated to cater for pedestrians and cyclists precisely because they are vulnerable road users. However, change is afoot.
Statistics demonstrate how vulnerable horse-riders are on the road. These aren't just theoretical examples. Conflict between horses and cars happens every day on the roads.
Personal examples are:
'a car drove by so fast and so close that the car hit my leg with its wing mirror as I was riding along the road.'
'a car was driving down a 60mph road so fast that the driver couldn't slow down sufficiently without hitting my horse on the road so the driver had to drive the wrong way around traffic calming bollard in the road - thankfully no one was coming the other way.'
Horse riders have to accept it could and probably will happen to them but with nowhere to hack out other than the roads, there is little choice but to take the risk. It shouldn't be like this.
The British Horse Society has been working at all levels to ensure this vulnerability is recognised.
In November 2018 Jesse Norman confirmed 'We should be clear that the cycling and walking strategy may have that name but is absolutely targeted at vulnerable road users, including horse-riders.'
The current RoW Network
* The length of the public right of way network currently amounts to 188,700km, consisting of
* 146,600km of footpaths,
* 32,400km of bridleways,
* 3,700km of byways and 6,000km of restricted byways.
* Horse riders currently only have access to 22% of public rights of way and horse-drawn vehicle drivers only 5%.
* The Cambridgeshire Rights of Way Improvement Plan - bridleway network is fragmented and in need of improvement. Development and the creation of shared pedestrian / cycle paths further fragments the network
Across the UK Horse riders are currently excluded from 78% of the Rights of Way network and carriage drivers are excluded from 95%.
Going forward, the only way to improve things for the future is to secure new inclusive rights of way which cater for pedestrians, cyclists and horses.
What needs to be included in the Project
* Joining up of any severed PROW's.
* All crossings of access barriers need to be NMUs.
* Optimise opportunities to provide missing links to improve the PROW network.
* Surfaces to be suitable for all users - the BHS can provide specifications and information.
* Consult with the BHS throughout the development process to ensure that riders' needs are included - public money must be spent to the benefit of as many users as possible.
* Where possible, ensure that PROW's are kept open or alternative routes provided during the construction period.
There are a great many local and national planning policies and strategies which support the inclusion of equestrians in new projects including:
NPPF: 92,96, 98, 141
The Government's Strategy for the Horse Industry in England and Wales
The Highway Code
Highways England Accessibility Strategy
South Cambridgeshire District Local Plan HQ/1:f, TI/1:2.b, TI/1:2.c; NH/6 Green
South Cambs Design Guide 4.12, 4.13
Cambs ROWIP - Policies SOA1, SOA2, SOA3, SOA4, SOA5 and Future Programme
Should you wish the BHS to provide you with this further information, I would be happy to do so. This could be provided in the form of a presentation if you feel it would be of assistance.