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Public Questions

Meeting: 18/06/2019 - Housing Scrutiny Committee (Item 27)

Public Questions

Minutes:

A representative from the Friends of St Albans Road Recreation Ground addressed the committee and raised the following points with regards to the Meadows and Buchan Street development in the north of the city:

 

  i.  Referenced in the City Council’s Open Spaces and Recreation Strategy Document that Arbury ward had the lowest proportion of protected open space anywhere in Cambridge.

  ii.  With on-going housing developments around the city why were the Council proposing to further reduce the protected open space on St Albans road recreation ground in order to build council flats, rather than find an alternative location.

  iii.  Planning proposals was build a new Centre on the recreation ground before the old Meadows centre was demolished.

  iv.  Facilities would be crammed onto the remaining smaller area and a number of trees felled; how would this enhance the remaining recreation space?

  v.  Many residents and users of the space objected to the development.

  vi.  The officer’s report for item 11 of the agenda referred to the Meadows & Buchan Street scheme public consultation held in March 2019, followed by a meeting regarding the open space proposals.

 vii.  This public consultation was poorly attended as many residents were not aware this had been taking place; no leaflets were sent out and advertising was extremely limited.

viii.  Had attended the subsequent meeting with two other residents. Had not been aware that this meeting was open to the public until two days before.

  ix.  Maintenance had been poor on the recreation ground, with benches decaying; hedges hacked back to a low level to simply management.

  x.  The existing Meadows was losing its character; how would Cambridge City Council maintain the proposed features of the recreation ground after the development. Did not believe it could.

 

In response the Executive Councillor for Housing said the following:

  i.  Thanked the resident for attending the meeting to express their views and those of the residents association.

  ii.  There were currently 2500 people on the Council’s housing register in need of affordable housing accommodation.

  iii.  Central government had provided funds for the Council to assist with the development of 500 homes or more.

  iv.  Space and land were at a premium; the Council were trying to maximise the space to provide the much needed homes.

  v.  The Council were still engaging and listening to residents on how best to use the current footprint of the Meadows site.

  vi.  Had not yet been determined the total percentage of the open space which would be lost to the development; potentially the figure could be reduced.

  vii.  The football pitch and play area would be kept, improvements would be made to biodiversity.

 viii.  The Council would ensure that it built a community centre that the city would be proud of.

 

The following supplementary points were made:

  i.  Understood the need to build council houses; there had been large developments in the north of the city with Orchard Park and Darwin Green. The north had been ‘hit hard’.

  ii.  There were large amounts of green open spaces in the south of Cambridge which had remained untouched; with a further 15-20% being taken away on the recreation ground.

  iii.  The recreation ground was heavily used; people drive there from Huntingdon Road as there was not the open space in Darwin Green.

  iv.  The recreation ground needed to be kept as it was for the residents’ mental health and wellbeing.

 

The Executive Councillor responded:

  i.  The planning application had not yet been formally submitted.

  ii.  When the application was submitted there would be an opportunity to make a formal objection as part of the planning process. Those individuals who had made a written representation on the application could also address the Planning Committee when the application came before them for consideration. 

  iii.  Through the Council’s local letting policy developments are built where communities can thrive and be successful; addressing different needs.

  iv.  The new development will be a benefit to the community and the city.