S T O P P R E S S !
Link to ‘Proposals for developing the next stages of the Greater Cambridge City Deal transport programme and city centre congestion’ Document
Friday, 6 March 2015 10.00 a.m.
Venue: The Guildhall, Cambridge
Contact: Graham Watts 03450 450 500 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘To outline for the Board the proposed process for developing the transport programme for the next stages of the City Deal and specifically, to identify how the Cambridge congestion issues will be dealt with in the context of the wider transport strategy for the Greater Cambridge area. This work will contribute towards the City Deal objective of delivering £1bn of additional transport infrastructure and thus facilitating growth in the local economy. ‘
“To update Members on the issue of Coach travel into an out of Cambridge – To note that a strategic review will be taking place of the future role of coach travel to serve an expanding city. This work will also examine the necessity, or otherwise, of coach services to access the city centre and provide information on a suitable location for a coach hub”
Recent developments in September 2014
There have been recent discussions between the County Council and bus companies regarding the future use of Parkside as a coach interchange facility.
There was a very active local opposition group to the original proposal for National Express to use this highly sensitive site in 2005. National Express was looking for a larger city centre site for its operations, and in view of the inability to expand Drummer Street further, both Victoria Avenue and Parkside were considered as alternatives. In the face of determined local opposition, Parkside was decided on. The local councillor at the time had suggested and approved of this proposal. This caused a lot of bad feeling locally, as local residents were actively not supported by their own councillor.
Temporary or Done Deal?
At the time this decision was made there was a commitment that the measure would be only temporary and would have little impact on the site. The opposition group and the councillors voting at the time, were assured that this temporary measure was only until a permanent solution was found in the proposed redevelopment of the railway station site which would incorporate an integrated travel interchange facility, including a newly planned bus and coach station. Of course this failed to materialise. It appeared the various developers were reluctant to devote valuable commercial land to transport provision, the council failed to insist on this, and so a visionary opportunity was lost. The temporary use of Parkside for National Express, and then Stagecoach, was extended, and now they are seeking it as a permanent site.
National Express, Stagecoach and County Council have alternatives which they still ignore
- The initial arguments against the use of this site for what is in effect a city centre coach station, and therefore an extension of Drummer Street bus station have not changed. Detailed objections, made at the time, will all be available on public record and this site has all the public resources.
- Cambridge’s green spaces are unique and it has only been by the efforts of others before us that they have been protected.
A bus and coach station with appropriate facilities should be sited on one of the city’s Park and Ride sites, with pick up and drop off stops only in the town centre.
- National Express was determined to have a city centre facility. An off-centre facility did not meet their commercial model.
Bus de-regulation does not give companies the right to over-ride local considerations. Why no coach stops opposite Kings College Chapel?
- The increase in traffic of huge vehicles, both stationary and moving, and dangerously accelerating taxis is totally inappropriate in a residential area, between the gates of a secondary school and its playing fields.
- In spite of assurances, the pollution has greatly increased in that area. Residents ask all the time that drivers switch off their engines. The responses are usually abusive or evasive – keeps the heating working, system problem….! Hundreds of children walk through and round those vehicles every day. Who would build a school in a bus station? It is dangerous in obscuring vision, in avoiding large and fast moving vehicles and changing a tranquil green lung into a busy built up area. Most passengers arrive and leave by car or taxi – few on foot, as promised. Other than a short period in the middle of the night, the site is used continually, with all the attendant noise.
- In spite of assurances the site has changed dramatically in appearance. From grass and trees there are now shelters, notice signs, an office, and taxi rank. Further facilities are sought. Improved shelters, toilets etc.
So now in 2014 – seven years on
The local school, companies and resident’s worst fears have been confirmed from first hand experience! This site is not suitable or appropriate for an effective commercial operation. Parkside has been transformed from a tranquil green heart of our city to a bus station. Further developments and heavy lorries from the University Arms development next year will make this hugely worse. Buses already stop along Park Terrace, providing rest facilities for drivers. Of course this will slowly expand and Parker’s Piece will be changed forever.
Provision was originally made at the Railway Station for these coaches, and could still be easily fitted in the complex. This was dismissed in 2006 as it was still being developed. Now finished and only used by local bus services, the Railway Station is an appropriate permanent solution.
Help us persuade the Council and bus companies to look again! Should this be built on Parkers Piece?