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Impact of Hills Road junction plan in Cambridge is ‘not rocket science’, say opponents

A proposal to prevent drivers turning at a major junction will be discussed at a consultation workshop for schools, businesses and residents’ associations affected by the controversial plan, the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) has announced.

The GCP put forward the plan last year for the Catholic church junction at Hills Road and Lensfield Road in a bid to improve cycling and pedestrian safety.

But a residents’ association has responded that a consultation would be “a huge waste of money” and that it was “not rocket science” to understand the impact on surrounding streets.

The Catholic Church junction proposals in Cambridge. Graphic: Cambridge Independent
The Catholic Church junction proposals in Cambridge. Graphic: Cambridge Independent

Meanwhile the GCP has said its officers were still “developing a preliminary design” for the junction that would go to public consultation in the autumn.

Frank Gawthrop, secretary of the South Petersfield Residents’ Association which represents streets close to the junctions, said: “This is a huge waste of money, because it’s not rocket science. Everybody knows that if they do this to the Catholic church junction they will spend tens of thousands of pounds finding out something that common sense would tell you in the first place. It’s a complete and utter waste of money. But then that’s nothing new for the GCP, is it?

“If they banned the left and right hand turns at that junction, it’s inevitable that the traffic will be displaced into the surrounding streets. They will employ contractors, traffic consultants, with more and more thousands of pounds spent on a report, which, candidly, any city resident will be able to tell them the results of just off the bat.”

However he said he would hold a public meeting with other residents associations in the surrounding areas to feed back their response to the consultation.

The scheme would ban right turns into Hills Road from Lensfield Road, and left turns out of Hills Road and Regent Street. The GCP says this would “create additional footway space to make it safer and easier for all users”.

Neil Mackay, owner of Mackay’s hardware store on East Road, said: “This is an ill conceived idea dreamt up by the GCP to inflict even more pain on those amongst up who have the temerity to wish to use a car, tradesman’s van or - heaven forbid - a lorry on the streets of Cambridge.

Lensfield Road with minimal traffic. Picture: Keith Heppell
Lensfield Road with minimal traffic. Picture: Keith Heppell

“The proposal will simply deflect vehicles onto other roads and drive up congestion throughout that part of the city. The GCP’s obsession with trying to clear the streets of Cambridge in order for their love affair with the bus to be fully implemented is bordering on the obscene. The streets of our city were simply not designed to accept the volume of buses they plan to drive into the centre.”

In a letter sent out to interested parties by the GCP, Andi Redhead, part of the GCP’s project team, said: “Over the last few months, we’ve been developing a preliminary design to take to public consultation in the autumn.

“It builds on the two early options that went out to consultation in 2023 and has been informed by feedback received from stakeholders and members of the public. We are also using information from Cambridgeshire County Council as part of the Stage 1 Road Safety Audit and the review of movement survey data we’ve already gathered to ensure the design reflects the needs of people who use the road. We are also looking at ways in which green space could be improved along Hills Road.

“We’ll also be doing strategic traffic modelling to assess the possible impact the core scheme and alternative Lensfield Road junction layout could have on residents and the surrounding road network. This will include the potential rerouting of traffic. We’ll use Cambridgeshire County Council’s model to provide a high-level assessment of the relative impact of the scheme on the local road network.

“As well as developing the scheme design, identifying opportunities to improve green space and undertaking scheme impact modelling, an outline business case is being developed. The outline business case sets out the investment case for the scheme including the need for the improvements, the scheme costs and benefits, value for money and further details on how the scheme will be delivered.”

Paul van de Bulk, GCP Project manager for the Hills Road project, said: “We want to understand the impact our proposals could have before we go out to further public consultation later this year, taking into account that people have told us they’re concerned that restricting some vehicle movements could displace traffic onto other roads.

“Modelling is a standard part of developing the design for each of our projects. The work the project team is doing involves looking at where vehicles would be likely to go if there are changes at the Hills Road/Lensfield Road junction. We want to understand the impact on residents, businesses, students and commuters, so we need to feed the information from the modelling into developing our proposals for this key city centre junction.”

This summer, the GCP plans to a workshop for residents’ associations and stakeholders impacted by the proposed changes to the section of Hills Road from Purbeck Road to the junction of Hills Road and Lensfield Road.

The authority is now asking anyone who represents “a residents’ association, a local business, or school, further or higher education institute in the proposed scheme area” to email them at contactus@greatercambridge.org.uk to ensure an invitation to the workshop.

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