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Final £6m Histon Road plans given green light

The final plans for a massive £6million scheme to remodel a major Cambridge road has been given the green light.

The scheme is intended to get Histon Road ready for changing modes of transport in the city, ensuring it can cope with an expected increase in commuter numbers.

The scheme includes new junctions, bus lanes and cycle routes to make travel in the area more efficient.

At the GCP board meeting on Thursday (December 6), board members have approved modifications to the proposals following further engagement with residents through the local liaison forum (LLF).

The board voted to support the final design for Histon Road “as a basis for moving to the detailed design stage, including preparation of the final business case and contractor procurement”.

Officers noted that residents strong concerns about cycle and pedestrian safety, and developed a new “segregated solution” that addresses the safety issues with the previous layout.

Histon Road(5933893)
Histon Road(5933893)

Speaking on behalf of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, Matthew Danish said: “The Victoria Road junction remains an unsatisfactory design.”

He continued: “The popular protected cycleways are all gone. The floating bus stop has been replaced by car parking. The Histon Road crossing is pushed too far north. A loading bay will block a cycle lane even though the shop in question has a rear loading access they could use instead.

“Some of these issues are more easily fixed than others, like removing the loading bay from the cycle lane, but we would like to see all these issues resolved.”

Mr Danish said the southernmost 160 metres of the proposed bus lane in Histon Road pinches the footway down to an “intolerable” 1.4m near Roseford Road.

“This is obviously dangerous for pedestrians,” Mr Danish said. “It is also dangerous for people cycling because drivers must emerge from nearly-blind driveways into the cycle lane.”

The board heard more work would be done with the LLFs to make sure the plans evolved and were tailored as the process went on.

Cllr Tim Wotherspoon, who chairs the GCP’s joint assembly, said he had initially approached the board meeting with a “heavy heart” because he feared the plans would not improve walking or cycling in Histon Road. After hearing that officers would continue to work with LLFs, however, he said he was “heartened” that officers would continue to work with the community.

Anna Crutchley from Benson Area Residents Association (BenRA), said: “The proposed removal of parking will create significant problems for local residents, who will be required to compete for spaces on Canterbury and its neighbouring streets.

“So far, BenRA has not been given any answers, as to how the logistical problems the removal of parking will be solved.

“For example, one elderly resident lives alone and suffers from dementia. Time spent with her by her carer is vital, and very limited. This will be curtailed as the carer spends time looking for a parking space and then having to walk back and forth from the space to her house. This could take up to 14 minutes both at the beginning and the end of her visit, significantly reducing the time spent with her client.”

Histon Road(5933895)
Histon Road(5933895)

Board member Cllr Ian Bates said there could be “discretion” towards carers needing to park, and said there had already been discussions at the county council about this.

Lewis Herbert, chairman of the GCP board and leader of Cambridge City Council, said more input from the LLF would be included, but waiting for future meetings to approve the scheme would “only delay the project further”.

Here are some of the changes

Victoria Road/ Huntingdon road junction

• Road safety officers were concerned that the lack of signal control for cyclists within the junction area would potentially place them at conflict with turning vehicles, other cyclists, and pedestrians.

The current design addresses this by placing the cycle lanes at carriageway level, thus ensuring cyclists follow the same signal control as vehicles.

Linden Close – Gilbert Close

• The bus stops in this location have been re-instated into the design. Feedback from the consultation highlighted the fact that these stops serve many people living in the Benson Road area via the footpath that provides access to Histon Road.

• Various landscaping opportunities in this stretch and retention of the line of trees to the north of the Gilbert Road Junction.

Gilbert Close – Blackhall Road

• . Between Gilbert Road and the Darwin Green junction the aim is to provide up to 2m wide segregated outbound cycle lane (1.5m minimum width in pinch points).

• . On the inbound side of the road a 1.5m cycle path is protected by the bus lane for the majority of its length. The enhanced cycle infrastructure will improve safety and accessibility for cyclists but also address the current situation where vehicular flow is often disrupted due to the proximity of vehicles and cycles.

• Several landscaping opportunities in this stretch but net loss of highway trees.

Kings Hedges – A14 stretch

• Slight modification of the kerb lines to enable a wider cycle lane and better definition of the cycle lane near the roundabout.

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