12 myths about the Chisholm Trail and Abbey-Chesterton Bridge

Cambridge Cycling Campaign are exorting their members to support the application in the face of “a small but vociferous group”, but not giving them or encouraging them to read any detail on the scheme.  We have 12 of the most popular myths about the Chisholm Trail and Abbey-Chesterton Bridge below. We hope this helps you.

If you want the full story of why these applications are so poor, go to our response to the planning application for the bridge.

1. There is no existing cycleway between the riverside and Coldhams Lane and the Chisholm Trail is new and offroad. MYTH : Most of the Trail involves widening sections of existing paths or duplicates existing cycle routes. Much of the wider scheme is actually on “quiet” roads.  Very little of the Trail is parallel to the railway.  We have proposed a “Cheap as Chips” option  which would give the same benefits for £12.5m less, because it already exists.

2. The Chisholm Trail and Abbey Chesterton Bridge are separate stand-alone projects. MYTH : The two are completely intertwined – for example there are no bridge access ramps without the trail. The separation was almost certainly deliberate to avoid an Environmental Impact Assessment and to prevent sensible informed comment for the public by salami slicing information.

3. The underpass to the railway “Cattle Creep” on Coldhams Common will be widened. MYTH : It will not be widened, but excavation works to make it taller for cyclists will mean it being closed off. We will check for how long, but for many this is the only short route to get to school or the pool or Newmarket Road, so impacts are severe.

4. The boardwalk on the south bank under the Chesterton Rail Bridge will be widened. MYTH : The width will remain the same narrow width of 2m, but traffic will increase in volume and speed, leading to a dangerous situation. Not only that, but it is likely to be closed for several months during construction of the bridge – we will check how long.

5. The scheme has been fully checked for impacts  MYTH : The applications have inadequate landscape, ecology and contamination assessments, do not fully detail haul routes and construction compounds and many impacts around traffic and heritage are not considered at all.

6. The present design for the bridge will take 6000 vehicles a day off the road. MYTH : The scheme’s own figures show that most of the usage is diversion of traffic from other routes. For example people who might have crossed at the Green Dragon or Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Or people who might have cycled to Central station instead going to Chesterton. The actual PROJECTED figure is below 200. It is most likely lower, since the northern section is unlit and the route bypasses employment areas south of the river and has to use the boardwalk to get to town.

7. The cycle connection to the Abbey Pool across the common will be improved. MYTH : The cycle route to the pool, which is also important for the school run, will not be resurfaced despite its present appalling state.

8. The benefits of the Chisholm Trail are far greater than the £12.5 million costs.  MYTH : The Chisholm Trail and Bridge never had any cost-benefit analysis done on it.

9. Newmarket Road needs an underpass as there is no existing safe crossing. MYTH : There is an existing well-used and safe crossing point.  The purpose of the £2m underpass is to allow the development of a cafe and parking for the Leper Chapel, both of which will be on Barnwell Pits Local WIldlife Site and in the Greenbelt.

10. The Chisholm Trail will improve the environment MYTH : The Trail and Bridge have very serious environmental impacts – they impact 5 Local Wildlife Sites, 2 Local Nature Reserves, 2 Conservation Areas, extensive areas of floodplain, involve contaminated land. The planning application is seriously deficient and has objections from the Wildlife Trust and from the council’s own ecologist.  The projects should be subject to a full Environmental Impact Assessment.

11. The Chisholm Trail and Bridge are supported by the development plan. MYTH : Both planning application contravene development plan policy due to their impacts on the green belt, on wildlife habitat, on landscape, on heritage.  The council has been forced to readvertise the planning application because this fact was not mentioned.

12. You can’t do anything about it and both schemes are a done deal. MYTH : You can take action by reading the facts and replying to the applications and petitioning the council. The scheme has very serious environmental impacts and should be subject to proper scrutiny.

The trail ( ref C/5007/16/CC in Google  ) is open for comments until Friday 7 October 2016 see here.

The bridge is open for comments until 28 September 2016. You can find the details and how to comment here.

The opponents of the scheme have had to work very hard to make their voice heard – posters have been repeatedly ripped down and basic information denied.  The county council has refused to publish on the planning website any opposition responses such as ours, whilst consulting early with other parties.  We hope you can help give this application proper scrutiny.

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