Save our rivers and meadows : petition against Chisholm Trail and Abbey-Chesterton Bridge

We are busy discussing whether we can have a petition after our previous petition was rejected on a technicality. The following is our draft text :

For the submitted application for the north Chisholm Trail and the connected Abbey-Chesterton Bridge, we ask Cambridge City Council that they :

  1. recognise the significant environmental, social and landscape impacts;
  2. confirm that they do not believe there is evidence that cycling benefits outweigh these impacts;
  3. ask for additional information to be presented;
  4. ask for an assessment against the Cheap as Chips option using existing cycle facilities
  5. request that the Chisholm Trail and linked Abbey-Chesterton Bridge are subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment;
  6. apply a “No net loss” approach to biodiversity within this and any other city deal schemes.
  7. object to the investment of public money until cost-benefits have been demonstrated
  8. ask for the application to be withdrawn on the basis of the reasons above.

We also ask [ as per a previous petition Save Ditton Meadows ] that City investigate lack of transparency and potential conflicts of interest within the scheme design, consultation and application process and report these findings.

We the undersigned object to the Chisholm Trail application as submitted and assert that it is inseparably intertwined with that of the Abbey-Chesterton Bridge and cannot be considered separately.

We believe that their location in two highly sensitive river valleys will irrevocably degrade this meadow landscape, and adversely affect the character of eastern Cambridge.

We also believe there has been abuse of process and cheaper alternatives have been wilfully ignored.

We reach our position on it being contrary to policy, on our experiences of issues with the process and the obvious overlap of the two projects.

Contrary to policy

We note it being contrary to Cambridge City Council development control policies and the National Planning Policy Frameworks, in particular but not exclusively that :

  1. it has an adverse effect on protected and priority species e.g. otters and bats ;
  2. it has an adverse effect on protected sites and priority habitats e.g. 7 Local Wildlife Sites and floodplain grassland;
  3. it constitutes inappropriate development in a Green Belt;
  4. it has an adverse effect on the landscape and character of the area, including the setting of the Riverside and Stourbridge Common and Fen Ditton Conservation Area;
  5. it constitutes inappropriate development in a floodplain and increases flood risk;
  6. the design quality of the bridges and scheme are poor;
  7. it involves the development on contaminated land near Ditton Walk ;
  8. it will have adverse impacts on heritage e.g. the Round House, Leper Chapel and quiet enjoyment of the area e.g. the Bumps course and rowing;
  9. its construction will have significant social impacts on local people.

 Issues with process

Based on our experiences, we take issue with the process of the application :

  1. that the application form as submitted contains factual errors and an unclear description, in particular in the differences to planning application ;
  2. it is supported by insufficient information e.g. no full heritage assessment; no traffic assessment; effects on Fen Ditton Conservation Area
  3. that the design and consultation process failed to consider alternatives e.g. use of existing cycle facilities via Cheap as Chips Trail;
  4. that the consultation process has not been transparent or inclusive and is misrepresented in the application e.g. viz complaints about Local Liaison Forum;
  5. that no cost-benefit analysis has been made against the “do nothing” alternative;
  6. that the usage figures as presented are misleading e.g. based on entire trail construction and not northern section – including existing users of Coldhams Common;
  7. that no in combination or cumulative effects with the Chisholm Trail have been considered or EIA or SIA undertaken

Overlap with Abbey Chesterton Bridge

The application for the Northern Section of the Chisholm Trail and the Abbey Chesterton Bridge are interdependent, sharing the same redline and many elements.  The applications are meaningless as independent elements.  The granting of either application prior to the other would create prejudicial issues.  The separate applications have created confusion for consultees.

We believe the separation was deliberate to avoid an Environmental Impact Assessment and proper scrutiny.

We believe the artificial separation makes it impossible for proper consideration and an informed response.

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2 Responses to Save our rivers and meadows : petition against Chisholm Trail and Abbey-Chesterton Bridge

  1. The separate planning applications (and thus one reason why your initial petition was invalid) is down to the different funding streams and thus different approvals process for the different elements.

    The Bridge is funded from the Cycle City Ambition Fund, a central government initiative that the County Council were granted funds by. One of those projects was for the bridge, separate from the trail. This was what was approved at the Economy and Environment Committee. As a County scheme it goes through the County planning process, nothing to with the City- so petitioning the City regarding it was an error.

    The Trail (Phase 1) is a City Deal scheme, approved to go to planning by the City Deal Board. As such the planning application, whilst submitted through the County system, goes to the Joint Development Control Committee to decide.

    The blame for the split lies with the fragmented nature of central government funding for walking and cycling schemes. I know you talk to officers a lot, as do I- officers have made it clear to me that they would much rather have been able to submit a single application.

    Whilst you’re considering points regarding process, it’s important to note that the rules on DCF petitions, of which this is one, state that
    “The forum will not consider petitions:

    expressing an in-principle outright objection to the application with no suggestions for a compromise solution”

    It’s hard to see how your petition is anything other than an outright objection and you have no suggestions for compromise.

    • Al – I am glad to hear that you and Cambridge Cycling Campaign “talk to officers a lot” and that they have “made things clear to you”. You also have a very detailed knowledge about the petition system.

      City Council also somehow shared our view that they were allowed to accept the petition – until County intervened at the last minute. We are awaiting a response from City about a second issue in the petition : “investigate apparent bias towards cycling within the scheme design and consultation”. Interesting to see what they say.

      Thanks for this very helpful advice about validity, but a second petition has been approved. You can sign it if you like : http://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?ID=41&RPID=50680137&HPID=50680137

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