Cambridge’s public open spaces are critical to our city’s character and community - and for the contribution many make as our urban green lungs. They have not commanded from Labour the priority they deserve.
They provide the best opportunity for the council to promote biodiversity and improve tree cover - allied areas of action in fighting climate change. Liberal Democrats will:
- Support Natural Cambridgeshire’s ambition to “double nature” in the county and aim for the urban area of Cambridge to play its part;
- Add to the city’s efforts to increase tree canopy cover with a Children’s Tree scheme - an educational partnership with primary schools including the gift of a tree to all Year Four pupils to plant in their gardens or a designated public place;
- Ensure the city council plants steadily more trees than needed to replace dead ones and considers using tree pits in built landscapes, as well planting for succession;
- Setting the highest threshold for applications for the removal of healthy trees on highway and privately-owned land;
- Introduce areas of re-wilding where harmonious with other uses, ensuring appropriate management which, in an urban environment makes the vital difference from neglect;
- Place a new emphasis on re-establishing hedges and low-level planting across the city, given their proven criticality in fostering biodiversity and improving air quality;
- Foster biodiversity by extending the installation of bird and bat boxes across the city and promoting bee pollination of plants with bee hives on roofs of buildings;
- Immediately stop Labour’s herbicide usage on our verges and paths and adopt environmentally friendly substitutes, honouring our biodiversity emergency declaration.
We will also manage public spaces for both their social amenity and landscape heritage contribution to the city, and will:
- Safeguard their character by resisting threats such as phone masts or jeopardising commons grazing, that we have seen recently from Labour;
- Introduce water fountains to reduce reliance on commercial sugary drinks in single use containers and ensure that we can all access water when out and about across our city;
- Encourage community groups who wish to contribute voluntarily to the stewardship of public open space and provide access to guidance and support from the council;
- Review council leasing policy for third party events to reduce physical damage and reflect our air quality and climate change goals;
- Maintain up-to-date management plans for each of the city’s major open spaces;
- Support the regeneration of the Market Square, our key hard-surfaced public space, to enhance the setting of the market and broaden enjoyment of it at other times;
- Take forward the “Making Spaces for People” initiative to improve the city centre as a more walkable environment - and replace the eyesore Kings Parade barrier.
As Cambridge grows, the provision of generous integral public open space is a cardinal requirement: it must be maintained in Local Plans and respected in practice. We will fight for it within development at North East Cambridge. We will also secure generous allotment provision, enabling food cultivation and will explore the feasibility of an urban farm.