Azara Blog: Lib Dems making a mess of the Newmarket Road area of Cambridge

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Date published: 2006/08/14

The Cambridge Evening News says:

Labour councillors in Cambridge say building 12,000 homes on the Marshall Aerospace site will create a transport nightmare.

They were reacting to a study which said RAF Wyton and RAF Mildenhall were both possible options if the business relocates, freeing up its current site in Newmarket Road, Cambridge, for development.

As reported in the News, the in-depth study concluded the 1,000-strong workforce could be accommodated at either site - though Marshall's has not committed to a move as yet.

But Coun Lewis Herbert, Labour leader on Cambridge City Council, has criticised the homes plans.

He said: "It's crazy logic to build 12,000 homes first without transport plans clearly worked out and made public. Is there to be a new, four-lane south Cambridge ring road?

"How are they going to shift this huge volume of extra cars when motorists can't even move at 10mph along Newmarket Road at peak periods? We don't see the logic of putting the city's single biggest development in the area with the worst congestion problems."

Coun John Durrant, the Abbey ward councillor and Labour's transport spokesman, said: "Building this new town without sorting out the transport is like building a house without giving it a front door."

But Lib Dem Coun Sian Reid, transport and planning executive member, said Coun Herbert's remarks were premature.

She said: "If one accepts we have to build new homes then we have to build them where there is the prospect of a transport solution.

"The airport site is a very good site because it's close to where the jobs are in Cambridge. That is the safeguard against this becoming a 'transport nightmare'."

The good old Lib Dems, taking the piss as usual. There are not that many jobs near the airport site except on the airport site itself, so once Cambridge has (stupidly) closed the airport down, Reid's statement that the site is "close to where the jobs are" is just plain wrong. The Lib Dems are encouraging Marshall's, one of the biggest and best companies in Cambridge, to get lost, all so the city can dump thousands of (no doubt slum) homes on the site.

Meanwhile, in a related story the Cambridge Evening News says:

Radical plans - possibly including a tunnel - are needed to tackle congestion in Cambridge, council chiefs have admitted.

But councillors fear the solutions could include roads across "precious" commons and open spaces.

Cambridgeshire County Council is to conduct a review of congestion on Newmarket Road and Coldham's Lane, with major proposals to be put forward by next January.

Richard Preston, Cambridgeshire County Council network manager, told Cambridge City Council members at an eastern area committee meeting "radical plans" were needed.

The measures would focus on the Coldham's Lane/Newmarket Road junction, the Barnwell Road/ Newmarket Road junction and bus priority measures.

Coun Ben Bradnack, Labour deputy leader, called Newmarket Road the "Achilles heel" of the Liberal Democrat development strategy.

He said: "The proposal for 12,000 homes on Marshall's will generate an additional 125,000 trips per day and a large proportion of those trips will be along Newmarket Road, which is already suffering gridlock at peak times."

But he warned Mr Preston's "radical" solutions would "be likely to involve new roads across commons and open spaces which are as precious in east Cambridge as Grantchester Meadows are in Newnham and Trumpington".

The Labour majority on the East Area committee voted to request Cambridge City Council to carry out a full investigation of the causes and the answers to the Newmarket Road congestion.

Coun Catherine Smart, Liberal Democrat member for Romsey, said:

"It is acknowledged the combined impact of extra traffic which new stores had generated had not been properly analysed when the original planning permissions were given for Tesco and the retail park on the opposite side of Newmarket Road.

This was done under Labour's watch, in 1999.

"We are happy to look at how decisions were made in the past and see if we can learn any lessons from them.

"To say no thought is being given to the transport needs of east Cambridge is nonsense.

"We have been looking at possible solutions.

"Personally, the ideal solution would be a tunnel under Coldham's Common. If this is not possible, I personally think a road running alongside the rail line through the common should be looked at.

"At the moment, there is just a single line on the embankment, but there used to be two - so there is scope for development there."

Another Lib Dem taking the piss. It is beyond ridiculous to blame all the problems on Labour. In particular, the idiotic bus lanes on Newmarket Road (reducing the capacity of that road by 50% along a crucial stretch) were installed in recent years. But the city has indeed shoved more and more retail space into that area (and there is still more being added even now), which is the worst sort of urban planning imaginable. Retail shopping should have been decentralised (for example, there is no retail shopping to speak of west / north of the river). The idea that a (no doubt multi-million pound) tunnel under Coldham's Common will solve the Newmarket Road problem is a joke. The only "thought being given to the transport needs" of Cambridge by the Lib Dems is that cars are the source of all evil on the planet and therefore road space should be removed and then car drivers, the victims, should be blamed for the resulting mess.

The Lib Dems, perhaps the worst thing ever to happen to Cambridge.

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