What future for West Road in Newnham?

There is an open consultation on the Cambridge City Council website (see http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/content/transport-and-streets/cycling-and-walking/cycle-route-consultation.en) that affects many residents of Newnham and Cambridge.

To improve cycle access between West Cambridge and the city centre (using s106 funds from the development of the West Cambridge campus site), the council is proposing to construct a new route from Silver Street to link with the existing Burrell’s Walk route via West Road and Grange Road.  A later phase of the development would see a new link being created between Grange Road and Coton Footpath via the Rugby Club access.

As part of this plan, the proposal is to close the West Road junction with Queen’s Road to all cars, allowing only bus and cycle access.  Cyclists would also be prevented from turning left into Queen’s Road.

West Road is not a major route into the city.  However it contains two junior schools (King’s College and St John’s College) and West Road Concert Hall, both of which have their car parks as well as significant “drop off” traffic.  It is also a parking street for spectators University Rugby Club matches.  Quite apart from disrupting access to these important venues from the city, restricting access from Queen’s Road will simply concentrate even more traffic along Grange Road and lead to greater congestion at the junction between West Road and Grange Road.

The consultation process got off to a slow start with leaflets being distributed to only 1,400 households, principally in Newnham, in February.   The consultation documents were posted on the Cambridge City Council web site in the first week of March with a deadline for responses of 26th March (which has since been extended to 8th April), although the website originally mentioned 19th March.  A public information meeting was scheduled for the 17th March, less than 9 days before the original consultation period ended.

I have no idea how many residents across Cambridge that use the Concert Hall or who have children at the two schools have been consulted directly, however judging by the number of Newnham residents who are still unaware of the proposal I would suggest that the answer is few.

While I applaud the investment that the council is planning into improving cycle routes into and through the city, the process here is broken. There are benefits to the proposed project, but also significant issues that will not be addressed unless there is appropriate consultation and consideration of the needs of all road users and residents.  Improving cycle routes cannot be justified if the result is a detriment in access for other users (parents, elderly and disabled residents for example) who need to use other forms of transport and rely on direct access from the city.


About Stephen Oliver

I am a management consultant/non-executive director and charity trustee based in Switzerland.
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2 Responses to What future for West Road in Newnham?

  1. Pingback: West Road, Cambridge, and the Lib Dem approach to democracy « Nick Hillman for Cambridge

  2. Ellee says:

    Good post Stephen. The wider picture should be fully considered. Do keep us updated.

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