The ward of Castle consists of areas in North-West Cambridge. To sign up for emails from your local Lib Dem team, click here. You can become involved with the Lib Dems in your local area through signing up here.
Castle ward Lib Dems believe in working hard for you all year round. Here is what we have been doing over the last few months. If you have local issues or concerns you would like to raise with us, please contact [email protected]
Castle ward is currently at the forefront of the city's plans for expansion, with new development at Eddington, Darwin Green and NIAB changing the face of our local community.
Local campaigner Caroline Stoddart has 40 years of connection to Castle ward, and shares her thoughts on how we manage this development responsibly and with integrity.
What is going on around the ward?
Castle Mound - Right of way likely to be accepted
It now looks likely the right of way leading up Castle Mound will be accepted thanks to representations given during the meeting where the decision was deferred leading to a re-examination of the evidence and further legal advice. The final decision will be made at a meeting of Suffolk’s Development and Regulation committee on the 21st October.
Histon Road Recreation Ground Improvements
Cycle parking and picnic benches will be added to Histon Road Recreation Ground thanks to an EIP bid from Cllr Chadwick that was awarded funding in March. Such facilities will offer more opportunities for residents to socialise outdoors whilst maintaining social distance.
Histon Road Aldi extension to delivery hours sent back for review
The Aldi on Histon Road recently applied for an extension of their delivery hours to 10pm, as well as an unlimited number of deliveries. Cllr Payne challenged this through the planning process, and as a result the planning committee deferred this decision to seek further details about how many deliveries they are anticipating to increase to, and to consider stricter enforcement to ensure deliveries do not happen before 7am and engines are not left running.
Storey’s Way Experimental Closure: First opportunity to give feedback!
You are probably aware that Storey’s Way is currently closed to through traffic as part of an experiment, allowed by the government to improve cycling and walking facilities during Covid-19.
This closure will be in place for a maximum of 18 months, during which time it will be reviewed and either removed or made permanent depending on your feedback.
An official consultation will begin on this experimental closure in November, giving all residents chance to have their say on whether they would like it to stay or go.
As local councillors, we were not able to give input into this closure starting, but we do now have an opportunity to meet with the County Council officers to raise any initial issues or positive comments.
Therefore, please do complete this initial survey to give your views on the closure so we can push for the right decision on keeping or removing this scheme going forward: bit.ly/SWtrial
Information from your Lib Dem City Councillors – July 2020
We hope you are all well and safe. Given the Covid-19 restrictions, we have not been able to speak to you or update you as much as we would have liked over the last few months, so please forgive the density of this update!
You may have seen from the recent article in the Cambridge Independent that Marchingdale Developments were granted permission to build 149 flats in the NIAB building on Huntingdon Road. The process they used to obtain this planning permission used government legislation known as “prior approval” which is granted to developments converting office space into residential. This means the plans were not subject to the city’s usual planning procedures.
This development causes us great concerns, as the legislation used means the City Council is not able to enforce its usual living space standards of 37 square metres. Some of the flats are proposed to be just 17 square metres, with an average of 22.5 square metres. We do not believe this is suitable living space, and are appalled that this proposal has been made. The Council has sought legal advice on challenging this, but unfortunately due to the government legislation involved the development can go ahead.
Cllr Greg Chadwick asked at full Council in May if the Executive Councillor for Planning Policy would be willing to work with us to use all and any means possible to challenge this development, and we are very pleased that cross-party consensus was established on this. We are also working with the Planning department to see if it is possible to use an ‘article 4’ declaration to bring this development under planning scrutiny, to ensure future attempts at a similar development must go through the planning process. While this may not be able to stop this development going ahead, it could ensure other developments like this cannot be pushed through in the future.
NEW TRAFFIC CONTROLS – Storey’s Way
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) and County Council have announced plans for experimental traffic controls across the city, including a plan to close Storey’s Way to through traffic by placing a bollard at the existing pinchpoint. Alongside many other cities, these measures are being introduced to make walking and cycling easier and allow social distancing. As local councillors we had no prior notice of these plans, so are rushing to try and understand them and keep you informed as best we can.
The schemes will be introduced on experimental traffic regulation orders for up to 18 months from mid-July. There is no formal role for local councillors in this process, but we have been given the opportunity to discuss the Storey’s Way scheme with officers to represent the views of residents. This has included insisting on improved signage for the closure along Huntingdon and Madingley Road.
Public consultation will run throughout the experimental period, and we will make sure you receive information on how to respond. At the end of the experiment, the measures will either be removed or made permanent, with decisions taken by councillors on the Highways committee.
We know there will be concerns about some of the planned changes, and we would always prefer to see public consultation in advance and decision-making by an accountable committee of councillors. The pandemic is, however, forcing unexpected changes and we believe there’s value in using that opportunity to try to improve how Cambridge deals with traffic. The schemes may make the conditions for cycling and walking better, whilst reducing carbon emissions and pollution – or they may not, and that’s what the experiments will reveal. Although our role in this process is limited, we will work to ensure the scheme takes residents’ interests into consideration and make sure you are supported in making your views known during the experimental period.
EXTENSION TO CONSTRUCTION HOURS AT DARWIN GREEN
Another dramatic change resulting from the coronavirus pandemic is that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced in a ministerial statement on 13th May that in order to restart the construction industry, councils should not seek to enforce construction hours, and should give planning permission to developers applying to extend their hours beyond the usual 8am-6pm. This is to make social distancing on construction sites possible without slowing down the building work.
Cllr Cheney Payne brought a motion to the full Council in May to ask that when such requests from developers come to the city council, they consult with ward councillors before giving permission, and ask developers to do all they can to be sensitive to residents. This gained cross-party agreement.
Subsequently, Darwin Green have applied for permission to extend their construction hours to between 7am and 8pm on some occasions. There will be no construction on Sundays or Bank Holidays, and they are hoping not to need to use this extension regularly. We have requested that they aim to keep the noisier aspects of construction to within the previously agreed hours of 8am to 6pm (8am-1pm on Saturdays) and to keep the need for this extension under review. These comments have been passed to the developers.
If you have a concern about ongoing noise before 8am or after 6pm, please do report them to the City Council’s Environmental Health team, who are aware of this extension and helping us to monitor it.
The details of how Castle Mound and its surrounding green space will be developed and used and how public access will be ensured are still unclear. On June 10th Suffolk’s Development and Regulation Committee looked at granting a right of way to the top of the mound (an application submitted by Cambridge Ramblers’), they had several concerns and chose to defer the decision until more evidence can be presented of the Mound being used as a right of way. Whilst the county council will continue to own the mound and must grant access to it as a scheduled monument, a clear right of way would help stop any concerns about how a developer may alter or otherwise prevent this access.
Last year at Castle Hill open day Cllr Greg Chadwick briefly spoke to agents of Brookgate, who will be redeveloping the Shire Hall site Castle Mound is part of. Their initial plans included open access green space which would provide similar access as is currently available. However since these initial plans were exhibited no more information on how the plans are progressing has been made available.
New councillor, Cheney Payne is calling out the Labour run Council for being complacent on the safety of people in the city at night after Labour councillors said the council is already doing enough to promote safety in the evening in the city.
Cheney asked the City Council to formally support the 'Ask for Angela' campaign. This encourages people feeling uncomfortable or at risk on a night out to tell a staff member they wish to speak to "Angela", and they will call for a taxi or help the person to leave discreetly. A lot of establishments in Cambridge are displaying "Ask for Angela" posters to show they operate the scheme but there is not yet a recorded usage in Cambridge.
Cllr Payne said: "Cambridge has a vibrant night time economy. People in our city can spend an evening in a bar or a club, at the theatre, or go for a night cap after an evening at Kettle's Yard. However, almost three quarters of 18-24 year olds have witnessed some kind of sexual harassment on an evening out.
“We need a Cambridge where everyone feels safe being out at night alone or meeting new people and this campaign is a good start towards making that happen"
The works on the A14 have lead to Huntingdon Road being used as a diversion route for HGV's throughout the night. Histon Road is also being used incorrectly by many HGV drivers, as it is not part of the approved route. This is causing huge disturbance to residents at night.
The disturbance caused reflects a complete failing of our Labour County Councillors to prepare for the extensive diversions. Resurfacing of the roads so they are smooth would significantly reduce the noise caused by the vibrations from the lorries.
Your Lib Dem City Councillors have been working to limit the noise and vibrations caused by the HGV’s. So far, we have:
We have so far been unsuccessful in persuading the police or County Council to commit to a night time 20mph speed restriction, so will be looking into for further ways of doing this over the coming months.
Residents have approached us to request that trees be planted along the verges on Eachard Road, to match those on Woodlark.
We are pleased to announce that the Council have agreed to look into this possibility, and will be beginning consultation and feasibility studies later in the year.
If successful, planting would begin in 2019.
In the meantime, I have been reporting numerous potholes and areas of pavement damage in this area. I would encourage residents to report any potholes or damage to this link on the County Council website: https://highwaysreporting.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/
Every year, the County Council provides funding for small-scale projects to improve our local highways. This is known as the Local Highways Initiative, and it provides funding for small projects costing up to £10,000.
Projects which are allocated funding must show that they improve road safety, create lasting improvement, and also have the support of the community. Examples of projects are new/improved signage, repairing road surfacing, new road markings and planting.
How can we improve the highways near you? If you have any ideas for how we could improve the roads near you, please get in touch via email or by adding your suggestion to bit.ly/roadimprovement
The deadline for these projects is the end of July, so we have time to establish the feasibility of a project before making a bid.
Cheney and Valerie are very keen to hear your thoughts and ideas – please do get in touch.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (the City Deal) will be introducing some form of residents’ parking scheme in the Castle area. The consultation for this will open in Autumn 2018, with a view to making the changes in 2019.
Before the consultation opens, the local Labour and Lib Dem County Councillors for these areas will be meeting to establish the boundaries for the new parking zones.
The Lib Dems are keen to ensure you can have your say on where these boundaries will be.
Please complete the survey at the following link to ensure the Lib Dems can represent your views in this meeting: bit.ly/castleparking
Castle Lib Dems are campaigning for the Citi 8 bus service to be reinstated, which used to travel from Cottenham, along Histon Road directly to the station and Addenbrooke’s.
As a result of congestion, the bus now terminates in the city centre, forcing local users to change buses.
Cheney said: “We’re pressing for improved signage in the short-term and a full reinstatement of the service in the long-term, once congestion issues are tackled.”
Please sign the petition here: bit.ly/citi8