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Public invited to have their say on ideas for improving central Cambridge's streets and open spaces

News release from 16/09/2019

RESIDENTS, workers and visitors are being invited to comment on a new vision for making the streets and open spaces of central Cambridge more pleasant places to spend time in.

The ‘Making Space for People’ project is being developed by Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, funded by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP).

The project will ultimately lead to the creation of a new Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to guide improvements to streets and spaces in central Cambridge and significantly change the way the city centre works. It will do this in a number of ways, including by:

  • Encouraging more sustainable transport options;
  • Safeguarding the character of existing locations; and
  • Identifying opportunities for new uses of particular spaces and areas.

During 2018 the public, and organisations with an interest in Cambridge city centre, were asked for their views on what should be done to make the best of the city’s heritage and its rich network of streets and spaces, for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.

This input has led to the publication of a vision document: ‘Central Cambridge – Vision, Aims and Objectives, and Strategies’ which the public are being invited to read and comment on by 14 October. 

The publication sets out a vision for central Cambridge, and poses five key questions for people to consider, which are summarised as follows:

  1. What will make central Cambridge a great place to be in?
    Cambridge needs to remain a great place to live, work and visit and there is considerable support for ensuring this by reducing traffic, and addressing air quality and climate change. Making Cambridge easier for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate could create economic, social and health benefits.

  2. Have we got the ‘street user hierarchy’ right?
    Respondents to earlier consultations expressed a desire to make central Cambridge more ‘people focused’ including by reducing or removing the dominance of motor vehicles and giving increased priority to pedestrians and cyclists.

  3. Do you agree with our vision for the kind of place central Cambridge could be?
    The vision states that ‘Central Cambridge should be a healthy, vibrant and engaging place that is accessible, well run and welcoming to residents and visitors alike.’

  4. Have we identified the right aims and objectives for the project?
    The aims and objectives outlined in the document are to ensure the city centre is:
    - Green: incorporating opportunities for improving biodiversity and sustainable living
    - Healthy: supporting people’s health and well-being
    - Equitable: providing a safe, accessible and environment
    - Welcoming: ensuring it is a pleasant and engaging place
    - Well-curated: respecting its character and heritage

  5. Do the strategies cover the right themes?
    A number of strategies have been identified in the document to help meet the overall vision, in three main areas:
    - Movement-focused strategies: including improving signage, reducing conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, reappraising car parks, taxi ranks and bus routes, and reviewing arrangements for delivery vehicles
    - Spaces-focused strategies: including finding new uses for space freed up by reduction in vehicles, creating opportunities for new cultural activities, and enhancing the market square
    - Economic-focused strategies: including supporting a wider range of activities beyond typical retail outlets, creating more activities by day and night and reducing pressure on crowded areas

Residents and other members of the public can read and comment on the full publication using an online feedback form via www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations or can get a printed copy by visiting the council’s Customer Service Centre at Mandela House, Regent Street or by calling 01223 347200.

There will also be two exhibition events where you can speak to officers and find out about the project on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 18 September, 3pm-7pm at Cambridge Central Library, Lion Yard
  • Wednesday 2 October, 11am-2pm at the Guildhall, Market Square

Following this interim consultation a draft Making Space For People SPD will then be prepared, taking into consideration comments received and further consultation by the GCP on wider issues around accessing the city centre. It is anticipated that the draft SPD will be available for public consultation in late 2020. 

Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transport, said: “The Making Space For People project gives people a once in a generation chance to help shape the sort of place they want the city centre to be.

“Historic central Cambridge is a much-loved and much-visited destination, but this in turn has brought about pressures on it. We are determined to use this unique opportunity to make sure the city centre continues to thrive in the years ahead, enhancing and improving it for everyone and in doing so helping reduce traffic, make life easier for pedestrians and cyclists, improve air quality and work towards a zero-carbon future for Cambridge.”