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Could a cycle-themed café in Cambridge roll into position by Barnwell Lake?

By Ben Comber

Close up of a bicycle drive wheel - vintage effect
Close up of a bicycle drive wheel - vintage effect

There are plans for a cafe with a cycle shop and fishing platforms.

A cycling café on Barnwell Lake, across the road from the Leper Chapel, has been proposed to complement the Chisholm Trail – but it has already received objections.

The 508 sq m building would house a café, kitchen, toilets and a cycle shop and repair facility. It would also provide platforms for anglers who fish in the lake.

The application states that the land is unmanaged and overgrown grassland subject to occasional flytipping, but the Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency and Cambridge Past, Present and Future have objected to it being built. They insist it would lead to a loss of biodiversity, as the lake inside the Barnwell Pit City Wildlife Site “supports a mosaic of locally important habitats”.

The proposal, by Carter Jonas on behalf of Barnwell Lake Cafe Ltd, states: “Floor space will operate on a strong cycling theme and as a specialist outlet serving an area where there would be high levels of cycling.”

The café would operate from early morning until late evening. The shop would comprise a small kiosk selling cycle-related accessories and offering a cycle repair service.

The plan also includes picnic and play areas to provide a destination along the Chisholm Trail cycle route, which runs between the city’s train stations and passes the lake.

The application continues: “The proposed development would represent a highly beneficial enhancement to the proposed route, improving the quality of, and access to, the public open space around Barnwell Lake as well as enabling delivery of the trail in this location in that the café is key to making delivery through the site an economically viable proposition for the landowner.”

Cambridge PPF said this presents a risk that if the café is not economically viable the use of the building would be changed, thus serving no community purpose.

There are also proposals for 100 cycle parking spaces, with 30 car parking spaces – 10 for the café, 10 for the Leper Chapel and 10 for fishermen using Barnwell Lake. The car parking spaces have been noted as excessive by county council planners who say it could put unwanted extra strain on the busy road network.

Other concerns for the council included the inappropriate use of Green Belt land and a harmful use of protected open space. A decision will be made in November.


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