Whats Up?

S T O P   P R E S S !

Greater Cambridge City Deal Joint Assembly

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: democratic.services@scambs.gov.uk
‘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. ‘

20th January 2015 : Cambridge City Joint Area Committee Meeting

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”

Click here to download document

8th December 2014: Air pollution ‘causing deadly public health crisis’
27th November 2014: Julian Huppert visits Parkside

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.

Parkside crowded with buses

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.

Taken from ‘Coach interchange – Bus & Coach Station Design’ PTEG consultation document

Help us persuade the Council and bus companies to look again! Should this be built on Parkers Piece?

26 thoughts on “Whats Up?”

  1. I agree entirely that Parkside should not be converted into a bus station. Parker’s Piece is historic – football was first played there in October 1848 to more or less the rules that exist today. It is a historic site, and should not be used for commercial purposes.

  2. First of all, putting a bus station near Parker’s Piece makes it lose much of why people love it: it’s a relaxing recreational space apart from the noise and traffic of the rest of central Cambridge. But most importantly, it’s right opposite a school and a nursery. And even if that weren’t the case, there’s a massive lack of facilities for bus-users nearby, making it a very impractical location for a bus station independently of anything else.

  3. Parkside is a community facility in a world-famous city, and totally inappropriate for a bus station site. It’s part of what makes Cambridge unique. Commercial development has destroyed many historic and essential green parks in the past and it’s tragic that our planners are so short-sighted. Bite on the bullet and consider long-term solutions! Look at Oxford, they have larger visitor numbers and a larger city population but have not placed a bus station in the centre of town, compromising an important green space.

  4. It is self-evidently wrong to place a bus / coach interchange close to a school (and/or nursery) entrance, because it goes against good design practice guidelines for traffic management. Whoever promotes this self-evidently :-

    a) has no interest in the safety of local children.
    b) has no business practicing as a traffic management engineer (and should be struck off the institute of civil engineers register for negligence immediately).

    Note 1 : If members of the County Council Traffic Department, together with Local Councillors and Politicians, knowingly ignore good design practice guidelines they are personally accountable for their own actions (and risk criminal negligence proceedings for their failings).

    Note 2 : Anybody (including Local Councillors and Politicians) who fails to follow safety guidelines for traffic management are negligent and have no business acting on behalf of the community they claim to serve and should resign their public post immediately.

    I have been advised by a Local Politician this is not the first time Parkside residents have been let down by the County Council Traffic Department and Politicians (serving on the Planning Committee). Allegedly the department failed in their duty of care to local residents recently by submitting inadequate information (re parking implications) in respect of the fire station development planning application. From this I deduce there is a history of neglect and/or failure of Duty of Care by the Traffic Department and Planning Committee.


    To my mind, those who fail to serve the community appropriately in respect of traffic safety are either – incompetent, negligent, ineffectual, corrupt, or simply inadequate!
    To place child safety at risk is abhorrent.

    1. Last week’s Sunday Times had an article by Jonathan Leake called ‘Dirty diesel death toll hits 60,000’. Toxic gas emitted by Diesel engines have not until now been included in premature deaths blamed on air pollution.

      This should be enough reason to ban any buses or taxes from parking anywhere near Parker’s Piece or any other green spaces.

  5. Permission for busstops to go on Parkside was given as a temporary measure because the local authorities failed to get a bus station put where everyone knows it should be, at the railway station, and the bus companies wanted their buses to get into the centre. Permission was temporary as an unlovely compromise. It must not be made permanent because the stops remain an unlovely, polluting intrusion on the city’s precious inner green belt.
    The proposal is anyway a piece of lazy thinking. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are to get 33,000 more houses in the next generation. The city’s streets are too few and too narrow for all the buses that will be needed for those wanting to come in. Bus stations will be needed in a ring, probably at Park and Ride sites as well as the railway station; within the ring should come only neater, cleaner buses, such as those which worked the late lamented City Centre circular route; the centre will be no place for big buses at all.
    Let’s have some long-term strategic thinking! In the end, only tunnelling will serve, and the sooner that is talked up, the better.

  6. If the Council can do this to Parker’s Piece then every other green space in the City is under threat.
    It is clear that the railway station is the major travel hub and the appropriate site for long distance bus interchange. Free bus linkage to the centre should then be provided.

  7. It is clearly inappropriate for a major coach interchange to be located where it is. Arrivals are forced to take taxis if they have heavy luggage, so a taxi-rank is also part of the traffic. Anyone wanting to catch a city bus has to walk to Drummer Street. Anyone wanting a train (or vice versa) has to take a taxi to the station. It is crucial that the coach interchange be located in a place that can be easily reached by public transport. Equally, the amenity of Parker’s Piece should be preserved as a relatively tranquil area without the imposition of a new permanent coach facility. Of course the present site is unsuitable for users given weather and for a green-space location. The station or development of the station makes the only long-term sense.

  8. As a non driver, I really value a city centre stop/station. It takes around 20min to walk from the station to the city, without heavy baggage and knowing the route. The bus at the station aren’t reliable enough to make use of them. Is that what we want for people wanting to visit / live in Cambridge ? Either walk alone through not well lit areas, take a taxi or wait for a crowded bus that might never turn up?

    Added to that, what will the plan be when Chesterton train station opens?

    I’m for the following :
    Convert drummer Street station to be a coach station not a bus one.
    Make the station a coach stop the south of the city still has a closer stop.
    Get rid of the Parkside station
    Put the stagecoach bus somewhere else. They already have 2 streets of bus stops, use these instead.

    On the kids safety subject, let me share some of my experience.
    Back in the days (2000), in France, students (15-18 years old) had to cross a national Road to go from 1 class to another. No traffic lights, no lollipop lady, not even a teacher around, just a zebra crossing and cars doing 50km/h.
    We also had to walk across town on our own to get to the stadium at 11-15 years old. Again no-one supervised us, and we walk 30min there and 30min back to school.
    No casualties in the 8 years I’ve been there. We actually learn to safely cross a road. Something that might be useful for these children to learn.

  9. As a resident of the local area of Parker Piece and a regular user of the Parkside bus stop I would very much welcome a better coach station. For those of us who don’t drive, the train station can be inconveniently far away . This area is congested enough with the taxis, train passengers and regular buses now stopping at the train station.

    A sheltered area to wait for buses and a toilet would be great. The buses are often late and it would be nice not to have to stand in the street in the cold and the rain, be able to nip to the loo without having to scrounge at the nearest pub. I would even welcome a small concession selling hot drinks!

    The Parkside bus stop has been there for some years now, a lot of people don’t remember it not being there. Cities change all the time, I for one would count this as a development!!

    Regarding the issue of “encroaching on the tranquility of Parker Piece” the bus stops may even provide a sort of sound barrier and help contain people. We are very lucky to have a lot of green space in Cambridge and I honestly don’t think that loosing a few meters along one side will drastically impact anyone’s enjoyment of the space. But if it does, perhaps they would like to go to Christ’s Piece, or Mid-Summer Common, or Jesus Green…. all a lot closer than the train station.

  10. We are categorically opposed to a bus station on Parker’s Piece, objecting to it on the grounds that it will ruin that important amenity, bequeathed to the City originally, so we think, for all of us to use. We objected to the ‘temporary’ bus stops believing that they would cause considerable congestion and we have been proved correct in that prediction.

    1. Parkside is completely the wrong place for a coach or bus station. We opposed this vigorously eight years ago, but with the assurances that it would only be a temporary measure, permission was granted. Now there are moves to make this a permanent facility. All our original objections and reservations have become a reality.
      For those people who didn’t know the area before this it must be hard for them to imagine how important it is for us to protect what makes our town so special. Left to commercial interests Parkers Piece would be concreted over, the roads in the area widened to accommodate their large vehicles and the increased traffic………
      Cambridge deserves better than this! We need a proper transport vision for the future. Either a fully integrated transport interchange at the railway station, or, in the light of predicted expansion and demand, facilities using the Park and Ride sites. There could even be a service of free mini buses operating from them to various parts of the city. As a local Council tax payer I would be willing to pay for it!
      Cambridge is special because people over the centuries have worked to preserve so much that would have been otherwise lost. Parkers Piece has been under threat before. We need to take the longer view, not just for ourselves, but for the future.

    2. We were told that we were going to get a transport interchange as part of the CB1 development – achievements to date are the removal of a coach stop, the implementation of a row of bus stops at some distance from the railway station and the construction of a very wide road that was supposed to be used by buses and taxis which is now only used by some, but not all buses, and no taxis at all.
      The Long Road shuttle bus as well as international coaches have been using Tenison Road instead of this link road. The County Council recently repaired both sides of the pavement at the Mill Road end of Tenison Road where large vehicles have been driving over the pavement and they also replaced a bollard on the pavement further down the street which had been totally destroyed.
      The congestion caused by the “temporary” stops at Parker’s Piece is unacceptable and the solution is to provide the proper transport interchange that we were promised. This will mean that they can provide a public convenience instead of inconveniencing the public!

  11. Provision ought to have been put in place for a bus terminal at the railway station as part of the development. It is the most appropriate place. Precious historical city centres should not be jeopardised for business or profit.

  12. I think it is appropriate that the coach stops are close to the centre of town and find them much more convenient to use than the train station for this reason, particularly when taking heavy luggage to an airport.
    The current stops have no impact on Parkers Piece and it sounds as though the proposed development would not increase these by any significant amount. If this was a real concern then perhaps some additional tree planting could be part of the plans to screen the shelters?
    The coaches, buses and taxis that use this facility do not seem to generate a huge amount of traffic and there is a pedestrian crossing that can be used by schoolchildren to cross the road safely.
    It also seems a safe place to wait for coaches late at night or very early in the morning as it is a well-lit central area opposite the police station. I’m not sure I’d want to wait in an isolated area near the train station.

  13. I agree that Parkside is sub-optimal for both passengers and the city environment. However the station doesn’t work for the former either — it’s a longish walk from the city centre and very few areas have direct bus links, especially since the Citi 1 was rerouted away from Bridge St and Chesterton Rd. (I declare an interest as I live near one of the Chesterton Rd stops affected.)

    So how about the following:

    Coaches to/from London and the airports (including services which continue to/from Norwich): use a variety of stops (e.g. Science Park, Golden Hind, Mitchams Corner, Emmanuel Rd, Catholic Church, Rail Station, Hills Rd 6th form college, Addenbrookes — this is more or less what happens in Oxford, where the majority of passengers do not use either Gloucester Green Bus Station or Victoria.

    X5 to/from Oxford: start at station and serve above stops to Mitchams Corner then as at present.

    Cross country coaches (currently NX 305, 314, 349, 350 and Megabus M37): there aren’t all that many of these so I don’t see why they can’t be accommodated in Drummer St.

  14. Once again this must be strenuously resisted. The arguments against it have only strengthened over the years as we see the consequences of the present arrangements in pollution and congestion. With another rampant bus company coming onto the scene the situation will only become worse at this location. The Council(s) need a proper strategy for buses, not a series of short term measures that ultimately begin to resemble an unwanted strategy. Please councillors: Oppose this proposal and develop an alternative strategy.

  15. It would be good if relocation of the bus station also reduced the number of buses that struggle through Cambridge Streets. Often these buses have very few passengers on board and get caught up in and contribute to spectacular tailbacks.

    Not only could Parkers Piece be relieved of ugly clutter on this important public open space – known to many around the World – but perhaps we could remove the bus parking that dribbles along the side of Butts Green too.

    The Railway Station is surely the right place. I thought the idea of relocation to it was done and dusted. Facilities could be shared, and surely we should aim for integration of bus and rail. That it was not proceeded with rather enhances my feeling that Cambridge’s future is increasingly decided by well resourced businesses rather than those we elect.

    What about possibilities at the new Chesterton Station, which is convenient for the Guided Bus. Could some services use P&R sites?

    When part of Christs Pieces was taken in the 1920s for a bus station there was public outrage. I do hope that the Parkers Piece proposal is not a ruse to soften us up for an alternative to extend the Christs Pieces site – as I believe was mooted some time ago.

    The County Council used to be very good about consultations on transport proposals – staffed evening displays and so forth, and I hope this would be the case here.

  16. Sadly, it was perfectly obvious that the ‘temporary ‘bus shelter would somehow become permanent once ‘essential’ structures were erected, despite hollow promises that these would one day be redundant and removed. I am opposed to the use of this road as a bus station; it is spoils this green area and is unpleasant to say the least, for pedestrians and cyclists and local residents who use the area and especially for those who use the green for sport, particularly members of Parkside School.
    It is convenient to have access to National Express buses in the city centre but this convenience could easily be achieved by a shuttle to the buses at the Railway Station, where they should be. The City cannot support this sort of traffic without considerable detriment in ways that have been amply aired already.
    In short, I am completely opposed to the latest suggestion of making the site a permanent bus station.

  17. We need an integrated transport system with trains and buses operating from the same site (and frequent smaller buses connecting the railway/bus station to the city centre). In Switzerland, where public transport works extremely well, it is unheard of to separate train and bus stations.

  18. The arguments against a bus station on Parkers Piece have only strengthened over the years. Go there at 5pm on weekdays and see the current consequences in air pollution, congestion and noise. Additionally, there seems to be no interest in the safety of local children. Removal of coaches from the city centre could easily be achieved by a shuttle service linking long distance buses arriving at the Railway Station to smaller shuttle buses with space for luggage accessing the city centre (and vice versa). What we need is an integrated transport system.

  19. I notice some of these comments suggest serious impropriety by the Council and potential illegality. I thought you might like to know that there is a Local Government Ombudsman to whom you can complain http://www.lgo.org.uk/ – you should note that there are certain things you should do before you register a complaint with them. You might also like to know that I found them most helpful when I reported the Council to them recently.

  20. We were promised that an integrated travel interchange (including a bus and coach station) would be included in the redevelopment of the railway station site and that, as a result, the temporary site on Parker’s Piece would be removed.
    Now we are told that commercial land at the railway station site is ‘too valuable’ to be used for the interchange. The word ‘valuable’ has two meanings: these are ‘worth a great deal of money’ or ‘highly beneficial or important’. Parker’s Piece is obviously more valuable to the present and future people of Cambridge than the station site: it has amenity and aesthetic qualities and it contributes to the mental and physical well-being of those who use it, including those who live nearby or are being educated there. To a property developer, rightly interested in ‘the bottom line’, Parker’s Piece is a less costly choice; indeed, it’s free. To most other people Parker’s Piece is a valuable part of Cambridge akin to Hyde Park and Regent’s Park – London’s ‘lungs’.
    If the amenity value of Parker’s Piece were to be expressed in pounds sterling, the station would undoubtedly be the cheaper place to construct the new facility.

  21. I would have thought relocating the hub to the rail station, with taxi-rank and shuttle bus to the centre, makes sense in every way, including the potential for coach-to-rail links.
    For passengers, picking up and getting off the coaches to airports at Parkside is not at all convenient if they have luggage, as most people do, plus there are no proper waiting facilities for passengers being dropped off or picked up. I can’t imagine why the coach services are reluctant to relocate.
    Mary Jacobus

  22. We are strongly of the view that Parkers Piece should NOT be developed as a Bus Station and indeed that the temporary shelters should be removed as soon as is practicable. Your note says that the bus operators turned down the opportunity to develop an integrated bus station at the railway station.
    But they should think again. The alternative which occurs to us is to use something like the Milton Keynes model, where medium and long-distance buses are accommodated well away from the city centre but still connected with it via an equivalent of a Park and Ride service. To inflict further damage on a major public facility such as Parkers Piece, bequeathed, as we understand, to the City as just that, a public facility for all to use for recreational purposes, would be unforgivable. We welcome the major review of coach arrangements to which your note refers and intend to contribute to the subsequent discussions both positively and constructively.

  23. Tomorrow, Friday 6 March at 10.00am there is an Assembly Meeting at the Guildhall where there will be an opportunity to ask questions about the progress of the plans regarding the future of the buses and coaches on Parkside. Some of us are planning to attend.
    Do please come if you can. It is an opportunity to voice our views and hopefully have a bearing on future decisions.

  24. How can you possible seek to ruin this most historic open space with a bus garage. It is totally unethical and out of keeping with this area. The pollution, traffic and collision problems are obvious and have been noted in the past. The Bus station should be at the train station NOT in the centre of a beautiful open space. Oxford and other historic cities would not dream of doing this and ruining this environment which should be conserved for future generations. Do what is right and do not allow the bus company to bully the city into submission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Campaign against Parkside Bus station