The planning application is in for the Chesterton-Abbey Bridge, which will cross over an undeveloped area of the Cam onto Ditton Meadows, causing significant impacts on the environment and landscape. The project is part of the Chisholm Trail, which also has significant impacts.
You can find full details by typing C/5005/16/CC into Google and following the link to documents on Cambridgeshire County Council website. There is a map here : Link to redline map of development
Why is the site so sensitive ?
Ditton Meadows is a highly sensitive wetland environment – the works will affect 4 County Wildlife Sites, a Local Nature Reserve. important “BAP” habitats and populations of protected species such as otters. As well as being in a Conservation Area, it is also part of the setting for the Fen Ditton Conservation Area and Grade II* listed building St Marys Church. It is known to many as a favourite walk and the location of the Bumps and for many represents the “Granchester Meadows of East Cambridge”.
Friends of Ditton Meadow have more information and pictures to share of ths beautiful area.
What will be affected ?
The planning application is for the bridge, access ramps on both side, piling of the river banks, a haul road, flood defence works and construction compound ( and cyclepaths ?). The impact of the heavy engineering on the Meadows, of moving a stream, of taking a widened tarmac pathway right up to the river bank, of tree and scrub removal and of lighting will be severe, both visually and on the wildlife.
However the quality of bridge design is poor and the planning application fails to adequately assess the impacts on this environmentally sensitive area and the character of the Cambridge green belt and conservation areas. Some quite major effects appear to be entirely ignored, with many planning documents dealing only with the bridge itself. For example the important presence of otters on the Cam and Coldhams Brook has been overlooked, as has the dark “tunnel” effect on the riverside path from the bridges and the effects of the haul road and excavation of contaminated ground.
Why is this project happening ?
Serious concerns have also been expressed as to why this £4.5m use of tax payers money [plus £8m for Chisholm Trail] has been prioritised over other city projects, and about the transparency of the previous consultation process. At the recent Local Liaison Forum residents and community organisations were conspicuously absent :
Yet, over 600 objections were raised by concerned residents at the consultation stage. Despite being verified on 25 June and the Cambridge Cycling Campaign being notified on 11 July, the general public were only officially notified of the application on 28 July. Comments have to be in by 18th August. To see who was consulted and when click here :
Link to consultees
There are no available Cost-Benefit Analysis for the £4.5 m bridge. A reported headline figure of 6000 users per day on closer inspection is mainly based on switching routes from nearby bridges or from the main Cambridge station. Actual trips switching to walking or cycling based on the bridge is 381 one way trips (304 cycle and 77 pedestrians) or 190 individuals based on return journey.
The project needs strong scrutiny as it is in a highly sensitive environment, but the planning application is poorly written and incoherent, and the process not entirely transparent.
What can I do to help ?
You can register your objection : Link to Cambridgeshire County Council planning site to comment
We have had a lot of complaints that the council website is not working properly. You can also object by e-mail by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting reference C/5005/16/CC Chesterton Cycle Bridge. Email to object