The Chisholm Trail: Statement to the City Deal Assembly and Cambridge News
Statement by CambridgePPF concerning the section linking Coldham’s Common with Ditton Meadow’s (Section 3) to the City Deal Assembly 15.07.15
CambridgePPF has been a consistent long-term supporter of the proposed Chisholm Trail, and I would like to start by emphasising our continued support for the project. It will provide a vital North-South link to the Cambridge cycle network and needs to be mirrored by a comparable East-West route.
As stated on page 10 of the consultant’s report, CambridgePPF ‘holds the key to linking Ditton Meadows with Coldham’s Common, and thus to linking central Cambridge with the new Chesterton station’. This is because the charity owns both the Leper Chapel and its immediate curtilage as well as the three meadows to the North of the Chapel that create the Green Corridor linking Coldham’s Common with Stourbridge Common and Ditton Meadows. This is section 3 on the map.
The Leper Chapel on the North side of the Newmarket Road is one of the oldest entire building in Cambridge in continuous use dating back to around 1150. It is Grade 1 listed together with its curtilage to protect its setting. The Meadows are ecologically rich in species, they are an important urban wildlife sanctuary, and as such are a City Wildlife Site.
In addition, the Stourbridge Fair dates back to 1114 when it was given special dispensation by King John, and is held every year in September in front of the Chapel. With the Chapel and the Fair, we are talking here about some of the oldest roots of contemporary Cambridge dating back even before the founding of the University. CambridgePPF has steadfastly defended the Chapel and its Meadows from encroachment and development, and will continue to do so.
The preferred route proposed by the consultant involves a tunnel under the Newmarket Road opening some 50 metres from the Chapel door, then turns right parallel to the Newmarket Road taking up about half the space in front of the Chapel before turning North to follow the East side of the Meadows.
At a brief on-site meeting with the consultant and Cambridgeshire Country Council in the Spring, CambridgePPF expressed its serious concerns about this route. Manifestly it is an invasion of a Grade 1 listed property that will seriously impact the setting of the Chapel. With a public cycleway through the middle of the site, it will not be possible to stage the Stourbridge Fair in front of the Chapel, thus losing its heritage setting.
Cambridge PPF would therefore like to advise the City Deal Assembly that it does not at the moment support the preferred route as proposed by the consultant. We will need to consult with the Friends of the Leper Chapel, Historic England, and other partners. We would then like to enter into discussion with the consultant and the County Council to explore other options, not least option b. that runs to the West of the Chapel along the disused railway line, past the old Barnwell Station buildings and up to Ditton Meadows.
We also have other route proposals that have not apparently been considered by the consultant that we feel will minimise the heritage and wildlife impacts, including for example a straight route along the West bank of the Brooke with an underpass that is set some distance from the front of the Chapel. It is disappointing that the County Council seems to disregard the heritage value of the Chapel and its Meadows as manifest by the fact that it has not given adequate consideration to other alternatives despite our request that they do so.
This meeting of the Assembly is being asked to approve the proposed route for the Chisholm Trail. With respect to Section 3, this recommendation is premature and undeliverable.
I repeat our overall support for the Trail, but reserve our right to oppose the preferred route through the Grade 1 curtilage of the Leper Chapel and the wildlife meadows. We would like to engage constructively with the consultant and Council to look at other realistic options.
Take a look at this Chisholm Trail link for more information.