Northern Access Petition - Response

Cambridgeshire County Council have responded to the petition for the opening of the northern access. Their initial response is a firm "no" but they have indicated a willingness to consider a trial period of opening, which will now be explored with our local councillors. More to follow as this progresses.

Anyone wishing to contact Cllr McGuire directly to respond to his letter may find his contact details on Cambridgeshire County Council's website.

Cambridgeshire County Council response in full

Thank you for your letter requesting the opening of the northern access to Love's Farm to all vehicular traffic. I can understand your view and the reason for raising the petition to indicate the strength of local feeling. However, as I will go on to explain, there are a number of reasons why the County Council is unable to pursue the opening of the northern access to all traffic.

During the early masterplanning stages of the development, the provision of a northern vehicular access at Priory Hill utilising the existing railway bridge was investigated as a possible option. However the rail bridge, which is owned and looked after by Network Rail, is not wide enough to safely accommodate the two way vehicular movement that would be required together with a necessary footpath/cycleway. Other options, including one way vehicular movement with installation of signals, were investigated but found to be unacceptable and/or impractical.

Consequently, the approved and implemented access strategy provided two vehicular accesses off Cambridge Road, each comprising a roundabout to satisfactorily accommodate the level of traffic generated by the development. That enabled use of the Priory Hill Bridge to be restricted to pedestrians and cyclists with use by buses and emergency vehicles secured by rising bollards located on the east side of the bridge.

Whilst I acknowledge that early planning decisions are not necessarily set in stone, attempting to change such fundamental infrastructure once a development is complete and occupied presents particular challenges. In this case, opening the bridge for use by all traffic would require substantial improvement / reconstruction of the bridge together with realignment of approach roads to safely accommodate necessary two way traffic movement.

Gallagher, who is still responsible for the road infrastructure, is rightly concerned that opening the route to through traffic would place unplanned and unwelcome pressure on the traffic calmed environment of the site. For this reason, together with the substantial financial burden surrounding the provision of a new bridge, they are not prepared to revisit the access strategy.

Consequently, notwithstanding whether or not Network Rail would grant permission for a new bridge over the very busy east coast mainline, there would be no available funding to cover the cost of the necesary changes to the infrastructure.

In view of the above, the County Council has no proposals to allow Priory Hill Bridge to be used by traffic other than buses and emergency vehicles as originally intended.

Thank you once again for raising this matter and whilst I am sorry that I am unable to offer you a more positive response, I hope that I have satisfactorily explained the reasons behind the decision.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Mac McGuire
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Highways and Community Infrastructure.
Marcus Pickering, 09/12/2013
Colfe 09/12/2013 21:53
Thank you for posting this information. May I ask, who indicated that they would consider a trial period? The response as you say seems quite definitive and would be a shame to offer hope with little substance to back this up.
Alan Robinson 10/12/2013 21:55
It sounds pretty definite that the council won't entertain the idea unless the bridge is replaced, and that seems highly unlikely to happen.

If the Northern Access cannot be opened, is it worth trying to revisit the traffic calming arrangements on Stone Hill and Dramsell Rise? That's not to say all traffic calming should be removed completely, but some tweaks of the traffic calming arrangements could allow those access roads to function as designed. I can't believe the current shambles is how the plans originally intended those roads to operate. Maybe that would be a more palatable solution for the council + Gallaghers? Moving one or two bollards, and preventing parking in a few key locations could make a big difference to the accessibility of the estate.

Bry123 11/12/2013 13:57
Traffic calming seems to have been and remains a key design feature of Loves Farm. That should be welcomed. The issues we have are caused by drivers speeding through the development and, crucially, the parking habits of far too many residents. Kerbside parking causes visibility and safety issues that impacs times taken to enter and exit the development.
Tom Roberts 11/12/2013 22:01
I think that Alan & Bry123 have fairly compelling responses that are not mutually exclusive.

I think that the amount of kerbside parking, coupled with the traffic calming was probably not fully considered.

If there was not any or little kerbside parking, then the traffic calming would have the desired effect.

I for one have a covenant on my property which limits parking to my drive and to visitor areas for my guests - if all others have this, then this was designed to stop the kerb side parking. However unless the builders decide to sue all then not really an enforceable covenant.

Considering that the parking is likely to remain an issue and progressively get worse, e.g. houses yet to be built, commuter parking, the probably young population with an increasing number of teenage / young adults at home with cars, etc. then some traffic calming removal would be beneficial, when coupled with the parking, it would probably come close to what was originally intended.

Unfortunately there will always be some that speed in a residential area - the traffic calming will do little to stop this - having nearly had a head on last week with someone speeding through the traffic calming on Stone Hill ignoring the fact that I had priority. All the traffic calming can do is to reduce the frequency of the speeding and reduce the total speed the speeders achieve so that if / when there is an accident, it is hopefully a damage only incident with no personal injuries.
Jaime Dickinson 15/12/2013 20:20
Agreed, the northern access is clearly no longer up for debate.
What is from the looks of it is the parking and its impact on the estate.
Recently I took trip on the No.62 bus from town to Loves Farm. The bus struggled in Longsands Road (not part of Loves Farm) with the amount of cars parked curb side and I overheard the local residence discussing how the cars are parked there by commuters using the station every day. We are soon to have this on the southern half of Loves Farm and we also have the football ground that has a brilliant turn out on certain match days.
With this is mind can I ask what the LFCA knows of parking arrangements the station has on Loves Farm ( if any) and what management of the heavy traffic the football club has on high attendance games?

Is it likely (as the local residence locals had suggested on Longsands road ) that the local council will adopt a parking permit system in the surrounding areas that are affected by this.
You can certainly see the Tesco Express area/station bridge and school areas with the surrounding side roads adopting this however this may incur an annual fee .
St Neots already have this in action around the centre of Town.

Jaime Dickinson 15/12/2013 22:34
sorry residents not residence, add an edit button please :)

Marcus Pickering 16/12/2013 08:04
circoloco - it's something we're looking into and trying to get volunteers for a working group on this matter - let me know if you'd like to volunteer.

There are numerous legal problems with residents' parking schemes. The situation as I understand it (and I'm open to correction from anyone who knows better!): In Huntingdonshire it's actually the police who are responsible for parking enforcement so the local authority does not (and cannot) operate on-street residents' parking schemes, and in any case these only tend to operate where there is no off street parking for residents (not the case on Love's Farm, where most properties have at least one off street space). The best they can manage is a single yellow line which would prevent *everyone* parking for a period during the day.

The situation on Love's Farm is further complicated by the fact that the roads aren't adopted so, technically, it's private land. That does open a few more options for enforcement - but none of those would be long term.

I think (and again I may have misunderstood) that the link you gave refers to residents who live in certain areas being able to apply for permits/season tickets for town centre car parks - i.e. not on-street parking permits.
Jaime Dickinson 16/12/2013 12:22
It applies to homes with no nominated parking pre 1958, when street parking was the norm. Agreed unlikely to happen here.
It does not affect me personally as live at the top end of the estate.
Think it's going to be one of those wait and see things, as you say the roads are not adopted and there is a couple of years to go before the building works are finished.
love to volunteer once I have finished helping the boiler problems on the estate which is almost 3 years on now :(. but good news as bpha are removing a further 70 stand in their next phase.