Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Cambridge City Councillor fears new HQ could lead to traffic congestion

Cambridge City Councillor, Nick Avery fears that plans for a new five-storey office building could lead to further traffic congestion and has called on planners to consider installing a guided bus stop outside.

Cllr Avery, who represents Trumpington is worried about the impact of the project which will provide a new headquarters in Shaftesbury Road for Cambridge Assessment – Cambridge University’s international exams group.

He wants to see an investigation into the possibility of a new stop on the Guided Busway before planning permission is granted.

Cllr Avery raised his concerns with members of the City Council’s Planning Committee today (Wednesday, September 3) when they were recommended to approve the application.

He says: “Brooklands Avenue was constructed as the drive leading to Brooklands House from Hills Road. If we were designing the principle approach roads to a development of this size from scratch it would look nothing like Brooklands Avenue.

“It’s a beautiful tree lined avenue now but we must remember that it was originally a cart track. The road space is very narrow – a car passing a cyclist must cross the centre line - and the trees constrain space available for a shared pedestrian/cycle path. Leaf drop creates a very difficult surface for most of the year.”

He warned councillors that during construction of the offices there will be 226 vehicle movements each day – an average of 14 per hour – and once opened, the offices will accommodate 2,300 staff rising to 3,000 under current plans.

Cllr Avery wants to see a full appraisal carried out into the possibility of a dedicated stop on the guided busway to serve the new development.

“The development sits within 10 metres of the guided busway,” he said. “The suggestion is that there would be an adverse effect on journey times if a stop was built here – well, that’s how a bus works isn’t it?

“It seems there will be a new stop to service the proposed Astra Zeneca building – so why not here?”

Cllr Avery is also looking for assurances that the developers will not enter into an arrangement with other local land users or occupiers which would undermine the commitment they are making to reduced car use. He is worried they could look to provide overspill parking on surrounding land if the planned car park proves inadequate for the 7.2 per cent of employees’ cars which is anticipated.

“That target of 7.2 per cent has been described by Cambridgeshire County Council as both ‘challenging’ and ‘very ambitious’ and the observation has been made that the nearest comparable that has actually been achieved in this area is 15 per cent,” he warned. “These concerns should be taken seriously and not just brushed under the carpet.”

And he stressed the requirement for contractors and sub-contractors to be obliged to park on site or in a designated compound to avoid congestion in nearby residential streets.

“The site is large enough to accommodate contractor parking so it should be made a mandatory term of any developer bid and it should be properly enforced,” he added.