Additional comments on Abbey Chesterton Bridge

We have added some more comments about the bridge on landscape and archaeology.

Readvertisement or new application of application

The application has been readvertised. It has not been made clear why this has been done and whether there was a technical issue with the previous adverts or this is a new application.

We can identify no additional information supplied on the website relevant to the questions raised on lack of information in my previous comments.

We have therefore been unable to supply additional comments on what has changed if anything.

Changes subsequent to previous advertisement

There are three changes subsequent to the previous advertisement that we feel need to be taken into account.

Planning application has been granted by City Council for 16/0617/FUL : Erection of 14 flats and associated bin and cycle stores following demolition of existing dwelling. Haling House Fen Road Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB4 1UN. This is directly adjacent to the northern end of the bridge.  Consideration will need to be made of the effects on these residents.

Tree works have been carried out on the Leylandii at Wadloes Court adjacent to the application boundary.

There has been an application for the cycleway elements of the Chisholm Trail C/5007/16/CC, which is strongly intertwined with this project.

Inconsistencies in relationship between C/5005/16/CC Chesterton Bridge and cycleway C/5007/16/CC

Firstly now being in receipt of the documents for C/5007/16/CC, we are convinced that even with the deficiencies in information previously identified that it would be impossible to  make an intelligent informed response, because not only are the individual planning applications internally inconsistent, but there are inconsistencies and overlap between them on a mico and macro level.

As illustration of the micro layer, the subsequent planning application C/5007/16/CC appears to identify an area for dumping contaminated materials on the Barnwell Meadows LWS [ described as excavated materials from Ditton Meadows in D&A statement].  However the cycleway application makes no mention of flood compensation areas in the application : this is within the bridge application C/5005/16/CC and the dump is outside of the redline of C/5005/16/CC. Similarly the fencing works to keep cows off the bridge are identified in the cycleway C/5007/16/CC and not the bridge application C/5005/16/CC.

This situation means that reports accompanying the application for the bridge may assess at a macro level any one of three scenarios :

– the bridge C/5005/16/CC as a standalone application, where it is wholly self-sufficient and haul roads will be restored after use;
– the bridge C/5005/16/CC as Phase 1 to the Phase 2 of the cycleway connections C/5007/16/CC, where construction of 2 follows 1 after a lag so impacts will be more extended or repeated;
– the bridge C/5005/16/CC and cycleway C/5007/16/CC as part of the same Chisholm Trail project, where construction impacts will be simultaneous and potentially more intensified and serious

It is wholly unclear in the text and assessments ( some of which do not cover the full footprint anyway ), which of these scenarios is presumed.

Landscape

The landscape assessment lists a number of detractors and mitigations to the effects of C/5005/16/CC. I wish to raise the following points :

1. It is not clear if some of the mitigation will be interfered with by C/5007/16/CC or how their impacts relate.

2. Tree works have been carried out on the Leylandii at Wadloes Court adjacent to the application boundary. These works will reduce or remove any screening affect from these trees, and upon which the landscape assessment depends.

3. The granting of Planning application 16/0617/FUL removes a visual detractor of the prominent derelict bungalow and includes a significant landscape planting belt of trees along the river frontage.  This removal alters the presumed baseline conditions against which for the landscape assessment is made in particular with respect to viewpoints and LViA.

4. The cycleway C/5007/16/CC ( or this application ?) includes fencing, gates and cattle grids on the west of the meadows. This will clearly interact with the bridge to create a further urbanising effect.  As far as I can tell the effects of this are not considered in the landscape assessment.

5. Having inspected the site again, we note that the significance of the pollards within the landscape appears underestimated as an integral part of the landscape character.  Indeed County Council panels located at Penny Ferry identify their importance.  These will be lost on the northern side of the river.

6. Much is made of the railway line as a detractor in the landscape. However because of its elevated position, the tracks and track bed are not visible and the wires are hidden against a back drop of trees. Its location on top of the embankment also gives a degree of seperation. In contrast the cycle way track will be very visible, being directly adjacent to existing grass footpaths and the levels of activity presumed will strongly influence the character of the meadows

7. The bridge and ramps will be obliquely visible, which the railway line is not due to its elevation. This will be true along the most of the footpaths and cycleway points crossing the meadows.

8. Whilst it is stated that the bridge is unlit, a proportion of cyclist using it are likely to have high powered lights.  There is also nothing to prevent lighting being installed at a later stage e.g. as a reaction following a crime incident. We note county officers attempted to push this agenda at the meeting of Local Liaison Forum for Abbey-Chesterton Bridge and Chisholm Trail on Monday 5th September by canvasing those present as to whether they wanted additional lighting.  It should therefore be presumed in the landscape assessment that the bridge and its underpasses could require much brighter lighting. It woudl also seem unlikely that the route is attractive to cyclists in the winter month if unlit juxtaposed against the train station. Furthermore since cyclists will not have lights but will use the ramps and access routes there is a significant point of conflict with cyclists.

Archaeology

The comments received from the county archaeologist for C/5005/16/CC conflict with those made Historic Environment Team for 16/0617/FUL, talking about the areas included in redline :
“Our records indicate that the site lies in an area of high archaeological potential. It is considered likely that important archaeological remains survive on the site and that these would be severely damaged or destroyed by the proposed development. The site rests within a landscape of known prehistoric and Roman remains (for example, Historic Environment Record reference MCB6757, MCB6756, MCB6353). In addition located to the west of the application area, is the civil war fort ‘Mount Ararat’ (MCB11733).”

Furthermore we note that p15 of Taylor (1999) “Cambridge the Hidden History” states that there have been significant finds of mesolithic remains on Ditton Meadows ” now in the floodplain of the Cam, on land ideal for temporary settlements when sea levels were lower than they are today.” Similarly on p16 a similar point is raised on the Neolithic archaeology and digs at Ditton Meadows.   This would seem to indicate a similar pattern to the south of the river and not of random finds as indicated within the planning statement.

A heritage assessment is necessary.
It is also necessary therefore that subsequent to this heritage assessment, that the site is subject to archaeological investigation.
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