Cambridgeshire County Council has been forced to reopen the consultation on the controversial Abbey-Chesterton Bridge after a public backlash over its environmental impacts and timing. The consultation was previously timed to coincide with the school holidays, when many residents were away.
The 2-hectare application area is on 4 Local Wildlife Sites and a Local Nature Reserve; two rivers Cam and Coldhams Brook (aka Cherry Hinton Brook or River Stour ); within two Conservation Areas, near multiple Listed Buildings and is within the Green Belt and within a floodplain. It is therefore a highly sensitive location. Cambridge Evening News has highlighted the presence of Otters on the Cam, which council surveys failed to find. http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/otters-have-been-ignored-fresh-row-over-new-cambridge-cycle-bridge-s-impact-on-city-wildlife/story-29607006-detail/story.html
Complaints were also raised about the council website constantly crashing, preventing access to documents and discouraging people from submitting their objections.
There were repeated complaints about not getting the information or chance to reply. Many people may simply have given up objecting, worn down and losing faith in the council.
We welcomed the consultation being reopened, but felt surprised that it remained unmentioned at a Local Liaison Meeting on Monday 5 October only three days before : “There is a repeated pattern of certain council officers and councillors failing to publicise consultations when the responses are unlikely to favour cycling projects. We will be raising the question why at the presentation of our petition to the council ( Joint Development Committee on Monday 10 October at 1:00 ). Whilst councillors may attach differing weights to the value of a new £5m cycle bridge versus the impacts from its construction, the effects on this highly sensitive floodplain environment should be subject to proper scrutiny and due process.”
The new consultation for the bridge under C/5007/16/CC at reopened on 8 September and will last for 3 weeks