Cambridge 2000: Cam: Grantchester Meadows

Description: Cam: Grantchester Meadows
Cam: Grantchester Meadows map for Cam: Grantchester Meadows
Date photograph taken: 12 Jul 2003 (Alternative map: Google map)

There is very little in the way of decent scenery within walking distance of Cambridge, and Grantchester Meadows would be considered amongst the best. The river Cam splits the meadow, with the city of Cambridge on the far side in the photograph and the village of Grantchester on the near side. This view represents the kind of rural idyll which many people still like to believe is typical of life in England. As can be seen in the photograph, determined souls manage to punt here along the river all the way from Cambridge city centre (around three km away).

In early 2003 a national government committee suggested that some of the new housing which Cambridge is supposed to build over the next decade or two could be placed on the land between Trumpington Road and this meadow (currently that land is used for agriculture and golf). This provoked the expected reaction from the Cambridge chattering classes, who consider this piece of land and its surroundings to be sacrosanct. If enough trees were planted then in half a century nobody would even notice the housing (as nobody can now see the houses on Latham Road from this vantage), but the main problem is that all new housing estates in England have to be high density with no gardens (the latest fad by the urban planners), and this is completely out of keeping with the current housing in this neighbourhood (populated largely by rich people on both sides of the meadow). As a result the new estate (like the other large estates planned for the city) would almost certainly turn into an eyesore, wrecking the meadow view forever.

In late 2003 the local council (predictably) decided that housing would not be permitted in the area bordering the meadow for the forseeable future.